Tracey Makaris keeps pretty good tabs on what’s happening in her children’s classrooms. She is after all, the president of the Garfield Elementary Parent-Teacher Association. But even with her enthusiasm, she said, it can be tough to know whether her kids-or their teachers-are falling behind.
Superintendent Lou Cavallo says he would like to keep parents in the loop as much as possible, and to that end is working on a guide that Makaris and other parents may find helpful. Labeling it as a “curriculum map,” Cavallo said this plan spells out for parents and teachers alike what students ought to have learned by the end of every grading period at every grade level.
The proposal will likely be presented to the school board at its Feb. 14 meeting and, if adopted, will be made available through brochures and the district’s website.
“This really makes it very simple for parents to know and understand [what their child is studying],” Cavallo said. “They will know what they can do to help their son or daughter learn.”
The map will cover only the reading and language curriculums this year, but in each of the coming years educators will tackle other core subjects, such as math and science. In part, the guidelines are designed to help parents monitor their own child’s progress, said Cavallo, but there are benefits to teachers and students as well. By laying out a district-wide standard, students in each school will be moving at the same pace and covering the same material, which creates uniformity. Principals and department heads can better gauge student performance, and when performance gaps occur this will make it easier to target specific lessons within the overall curriculum.
“It gives [teachers] a basis for discussing instructional practices,” Cavallo said.
Bonnie Doolin, a past PTA president who’s still active in the group, said it gets tougher to stay in tune with a child’s classroom as the student gets older. Having a step-by-step guide to their education, she said, would certainly help.
“I feel like parents are left so in the dark sometimes with their kids’ education,” Doolin said.