CCER asked Connecticut districts and schools to showcase the creative and informative ways they have been communicating about Common Core with parents. We received many excellent submissions and are pleased to announce 3 winners: Branford Public Schools, Vernon Public Schools, and Hanover Elementary School in Meriden. Winners will be given a $1,000 grant to further innovation in their school or district.
Each of our winners used multiple avenues to educate parents. They held events at schools, sent newsletters home, involved the local media, and made information available at school offices.
Branford Public Schools (BPS) walked parents through specific examples comparing the old academic standards to the Common Core State Standards in order to educate parents on the rigor of the new standards. The district made presentation to parents at each grade level about the new standards and their impact on that grade. At BPS Board of Education meetings, students made presentations (which were then televised) about how their classroom experiences have evolved as a result Common Core. Students report that class discussions had shifted from being about personal experiences to being more fact-based, and they felt they were thinking more critically using curriculum design to align with the Common Core standards. Branford also used an article in the local newspaper to describe the transition to Common Core and this year’s field test of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Hanover Elementary School in Meriden shows a true understanding of its parents’ needs through its publication of Common Core information to parents in both English and Spanish. Flyers for events, audio recordings, and presentations have all been distributed in both languages to make sure that all parents in their largely Hispanic community are able to understand the impact of the transition to Common Core. Hanover also took the extra step of surveying parents to examine the success of Common Core communications. It can now use data compiled from parents and teachers to make data-driven decisions about how to improve communications about future education initiatives.
Vernon Public Schools (VPS) presented on the Common Core State Standards to varied audiences through Board of Education meetings, town hall events, and back to school nights. VPS documented these meetings, held question and answer sessions, and released full transcripts of these meetings to all parents in the district. Like Branford, Vernon also used an article in the local newspaper to reach an even wider audience.
Other notable applicants used both traditional and non-traditional methods for communicating with parents. One school took the extra step of creating curriculum binders for each grade level, which described the alignment of the curriculum to Common Core and were made available in school offices. Another school communicated about Common Core using a Pinterest board that linked to free resources explaining the Common Core and providing exercises that could be studied at home.
Congratulations to our winning schools and districts!
CCER invites you to reach out and tell us how you are communicating to your parents about the Common Core State Standards.