Parenting Tip: What's the Score in School?
Berlak, 2001, Race and the Achievement Gap, p. 7 By my daughter’s second year in public school I was stunned to realize that my creative, smart and caring nine year old would not be asked to be a part of the accelerated programs. I read to her in utero. I even put headphones with classical baby tunes to my stomach. I read to her nightly before she entered school (and after). We visited museums and concerts. How could this be? I did all the right things. My daughter attended an all Black private school. She left there in first grade scoring in the 98th percentile in reading. However, the public school she attended did not recognize her high test scores. I naively assumed that they, the professionals, would soon recognize her strength in reading. I rested confidently in the assumption that it would just be a matter of time before I received a letter requesting her placement in accelerated classes. Unfortunately, this did not happen. I did not know I could ask why she had not been placed when she transferred to public school. I didn’t realize I could ask these questions until I became a teacher. My daughter began school each year equipped with the requested amount of pencils, papers, rulers, notebooks and whatever else was required. At the time I was a single mother, and my parents helped me track down storybooks and math practice books to help foster what appeared to be her dwindling confidence in her performance in school. My daughter turned in her homework every day and after working all day as a full time bank teller I went over colors and shapes. I carefully monitored the TV programs she watched. For the most part she brought home A’s and B’s, but her standardized reading test scores were no longer stellar. They became mediocre. I didn’t realize until I became a teacher that mediocre standardized test scores trump A’s and B’s on unit tests. Now, after parenting two more children, being a teacher and learning more about the field of education, I realize the following:
- There were children I taught who were just as smart as the children who were placed in the ‘accelerated’ classes. However, their standardized test scores kept them out of these classes
- A child needs to have above average test scores and in some cases stellar interviews and teacher recommendations to be moved into the accelerated classes and programs
- I have to be an advocate for my child in school, by asking questions about available programs