By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR
(Cross-posted from the Alliance for Excellence in Education High School Soup blog,)
It’s the time of year that millions of students look forward to: donning caps and gowns and walking in their high school graduation ceremonies, cheered on by friends and families. One of our community’s proudest accomplishments in the last decade is that so many more of these students are Latino. However, a diploma does not guarantee that they are ready for college or a career. That is why closing the educational gap between Latino students and their fellow classmates continues to be the top educational priority for the NCLR.
This ambitious goal is why we have been supporters of the Common Core State Standards since their inception. With the adoption of common standards in the vast majority of states, schools will finally be held accountable for how well they are teaching Latino students. This is no small feat. Historically, low standards and expectations for certain students have translated into massive achievement gaps. The era of neglecting and expecting less from some students should—and needs to—end.
Now that the standards have been adopted, we have to focus on making sure that these standards are implemented in the most effective way possible. States need to provide the resources and training necessary to make these standards work. However, having common standards does not mean that they’ll all be applied in the same ways. Each state has to make sure that the standards are implemented consistently with its particular needs. This will take the support of the same public-private coalition that proposed and developed college and career ready standards in the first place. One way this coalition can help is by ensuring that parents are part of the process. Experience and research tell us that parents can be the most effective factor in how a child learns. This is why, long before common standards, NCLR began an effort to educate and train parents to become stronger participants in their children’s schools and to play bigger roles in their children’s education overall.
It is vital that those of us who support college and career ready standards do a better job of informing all parents—not just Latinos—about what the standards are and, just as importantly, what they are not. In addition to clearing up misconceptions surrounding the standards, we want to thoughtfully address the concerns that parents may have.
We can meet this goal by encouraging parents to become more involved in the process. We need to give parents information about how to engage with their schools and policymakers about the implementation process. In our work, NCLR has created a tool kit to help Latino parents ask important questions about how the standards will affect their children’s schools. And for some parents, knowing how English language learners are being considered could lead them to becoming advocates for valuable and much-needed teacher development.
We believe in the Common Core State Standards. Making the standards a success for all students will take the same level of effort that brought these standards to life in the first place.