Benchmarking a child's progress is something many parents are worried about, and often, with good reason. Parents have high expectations for schools and students. It is often difficult to understand why or how a child's skills are measured. Curriculum targets are one thing and individualized programs are another. It presents challenges when the two do not often align and strikes fear in the hearts of parents who just want to see opportunities equalized or to see their child understand and apply concepts without the nervousness associated with watered down curriculum expectations. Sometimes it is important to know what each benchmark or curriculum target measures and how it fits into the bigger picture for instruction or assessment. How do these standards align with the state mandated assessments?
So what, then, should a parent look for to define progress? Specific feedback that targets the acquisition of fundamental skills. Be wary of statements that reference how well behaved or friendly a child is in relation to their academic skills. Ask to see examples of completed work to assess the rigor or the strategy being taught. Be open to constructive feedback and be willing to conference with the teachers. Conference regularly with school staff and work alongside your child at home to see whether skills are generalizing or your child really understands the concepts being presented in class.