Middle School Parents Need Statistics Degree To Understand Student Info

The father of two Metro Schools students and twins due in December walked up to me with these words: “Ms. Vesia, you know anything about these progress reports?” Ms. Vesia has not seen a progress in many years. Ms. Vesia is thrilled about this fact and all too eager to relay the message.

But not even my smugness could deter the guy from walking to his truck and returning with a one-pager that was sent home with his middle schooler with MAP and Progress Report located at the top of the paper. Next would be a series of questions laced with cheap words:

“What the hell is RIT?”

“TF with this graph having a scale of 150 – 250?”

“Lexile range? Really?”

The profanity-laced questions were, of course, spewed by yours truly and before I could get out another question, an elementary school mom remarked, “you need a college degree to understand that thing!” I couldn’t admit at that moment that I own a couple of those things yet still struggled to translate the data into anything meaningful or true. I’ve never been one to attract attention to myself — especially when there’s a strong possibility of looking like an idiot.

On Thursday, September 5, Metro Schools announced changes would be made to the middle school progress report. Unfortunately, these reports did not go home on Friday, September 6 as promised and on SATURDAY, September 7 the district announced that middle school progress reports would be delayed “until the end of September due to a technical issue as we work to improve our communication tools for student learning.”

Why on earth are middle school progress reports pushed back an entire three weeks? Why are y’all telling people on the weekend? But there is some good news here, according to the district’s website, parents are able to access student assignment grades through the parent portal.

Wait.

“We understand the portal’s information may be confusing at this time. We are working to streamline the information.”

Lord.

Life is hard and I know running an urban district smoothly is next to impossible what with thousands of variables at play including 86,000 children and their families representing an infinite swath of interests and needs. However, promises to families must be kept. I mean, a progress report shouldn’t be all that difficult to produce unless 1) teachers were not properly trained or 2) the “technical issue” is so outrageous the district is working on a viable excuse rather than a resolution. Be mad if you want, I’m just speaking from experience.

Meet the new board, same as the old one

Speaking of experience (I’m terrible with transitions), I failed to mention that while I was busy Tuesday night using a magic MAP decoder ring with a group of parents, the new and improved school board in its official debut were busy performing business as usual.

Act I: election of officers mired in controversy and bitterness replete with eye rolls.

Act II: A letter read by school board member Jill Speering berating — no BLASTING — Sharon Gentry in a failed attempt to dissuade members from voting her as the next chair.

Act III: Proposed agenda items about sexual harassment and audits somehow failed to make it to the light of day.

But the preceding theatrics takes a back seat to new board member Fran Bush calling for the director’s resignation on the board floor. Yikes! You can’t undo that one.

For a thorough rundown of the night’s activities, check out TC Weber’s blistering account at his blog Dad Gone Wild. To give you an idea of what to expect, the first word of the 2,000+ word blast fest is Psychopaths. Enjoy.

What the MAP is this?

Now back to the “what the hell?” report. Very smart people have assured me of the value of MAP assessment data to teachers and families. They say MAP is closely aligned to the national assessment NAEP, so if a student performs well on MAP then she likely does similarly well on NAEP. I love and appreciate that the district is trying to do the right things by kids, but, once again, let’s make good on promises to parents and bring them to the adult table for a conversation and not relegate them to the kids’ table because we believe they won’t understand grown folk talk.

Furthermore, please don’t send home hieroglyphics masquerading as a performance report and then feel some kind of way when parents are too damn intimidated to visit the school. I’m so afraid that father will reach out to his son’s school to ask about the hieroglyphics and be made to feel stupid. That his lack of understanding of something statisticians spend years in college acquiring the skills and knowledge to produce is somehow his problem.

Our focus is in dire need of calibration. The kids, man. And a little respect for parents would be greatly appreciated.

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