Lead Author of New Book on Reading Awareness Shares Experience with Overcoming New Grades
Learn the new 2015 “Learning Curve” Knowledge Base and What It Means for Early Literacy.
Early Childhood education can be viewed as a moving target in terms of how children are tested and what outcomes are expected. The existing K-3 testing system, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), is one that often generates opinions on whose job it is to increase child achievement and encourage parents to think about ways to achieve this goal.
However, it is much more than that. As a team of researchers and educators explained, this year’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) test was more comprehensive than usual in some ways.
One important approach to overcoming the difficulties presented by the new TIMSS test is for parents and teachers to partner together to see how they can improve how students are doing, according to the lead author.
Written by Tessa Belnap and Ed Kelly from Oklahoma State University and Robin M. Kelley and Meredith W. Fritz from Texas A&M University, the team has written a book, Learning Curve: A Teacher and Parent Guide to Increase Student Success through Enrichment and Manners (ISBN 978-0-100342-06-4, Wills Publishers, 2015), that provides a balanced explanation of both the TIMSS test and its evaluation.
“It is great that there is a lot of enthusiasm about the new TIMSS test, and that people are doing so much to make it a success,” said Belnap. “But a focus on ensuring it is an accurate assessment may be somewhat misplaced. What is most important for children is that they keep learning, and for that to happen, it is crucial for them to feel safe and supported when they are at school. ”
Children are some of the most important, and most vulnerable, people in this country, and it is critical that they are supported when in school, she said. Teachers and parents must look closely at ways to strengthen, not diminish, the benefits to children of learning enrichment, teamwork, and treating others as they expect to be treated. “Schools and schools can offer this for their children and families can empower their children to be partners in their own learning,” Belnap said.
Bringing parents into the picture for the TIMSS exam is important because they are often there in the after-school, weekend, and before-school hours with their children, according to Kelly. This helps students who have a close relationship with their parent, and allows teachers to understand their needs.
The researchers write that in order to support all children, both teachers and parents need to be actively involved, listening to the needs of the child at hand and their child’s own priorities.
Parents also need to play a significant role in helping children develop these skills, they advise. An example would be when a child turns up to a school playground and there are no swings. Parents need to say, “I found some fake ones so you can play on them before the real ones arrive.”
One year out of the four required for children to enter kindergarten in most districts, teachers still score the TOPSY® test at a far lower level than what is expected by the American Statistical Association, so it is important to understand what supports that specific type of test gives and not lose sight of the need to continue to seek out opportunities to improve the quality of our assessment system, Kelly explained.
It is also critical that the current evaluation method is reviewed to see how it affects instruction, he said.
Readings from the SAT test will not be obsolete in the near future, so it is imperative that the evaluation for that test is followed as closely as possible, Belnap said.
Based in Chicago, Kelley has been associated with the education department at Texas A&M University since 1993 and has taught science, math, and language arts. Fritz has been an assistant professor of biology at Texas A&M since 1999 and has taught, supervised, and published research in biology.
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