Parents offer variety of opinions at school achievement meetings

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Put a group of parents in a room, and you will get a plethora of ideas on how to improve student achievement.

That’s exactly what happened when nine parents primarily from Conifer and Evergreen schools attended a 90-minute forum Saturday morning at EHS conducted by Jeffco Public Schools. It was one of several meetings at which the district is gathering information about how parents think students can be better served.

The discussions are part of the district’s community engagement meetings, held several times a year. Past meetings have been much more heavily attended because the topic was what items to cut from the district budget.

At Saturday’s meeting, none of the ideas brought up by the group was new, and school board member Laura Boggs said the ideas from all of the meetings will be compiled and brought to the school board. The list also will be posted on the district’s website. Boggs, who represents the mountain area of the district, hosted the meeting.

“I think the ideas from parents set a deeper level of goals for the district to make sure that ‘all’ means ‘all,’ ” Boggs said, referring to ensuring that all students are given the appropriate instruction so they succeed.

District Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said in a video shown at the beginning of the meeting that student achievement needs to be defined as more than simply test scores. Schools also should teach students to be creative, problem-solvers, empathetic and caring, she said.

Boggs also suggested that more parents should find out about district-wide opportunities to get involved in their kids’ education.

The parents formed two groups to discuss four topics that were on the agenda at all the district meetings: what schools of the future should look like; evidence parents need to determine whether schools are doing their job; what it takes to ensure all students are successful; and issues the school board should be considering.

The spokeswomen for both groups agreed that their 40-minute discussions hit on many topics. They listed their issues, which were recorded, to the group with little discussion.

The parents suggested better science and math education, especially in elementary schools, and the necessary training so teachers could excel at providing that instruction. They wanted students to learn state-of-the-art technology and teachers to use technology more effectively to teach.

They wanted teaching to be more activity-centered and to include interactive learning, rather than students doing worksheets to master a skill.

They asked that the district move away from testing to determine success and look for other ways to measure it. As an example, they suggested that the district survey businesses that hire students and graduates to assess their readiness for the workforce.

They said they wanted the school board to be looking at improving school buildings to make them safer and more secure, and that the district should be a leader in addressing state mandates that don’t come with funding.

They suggested that best practices for teaching a subject should be shared with all schools in the district and that teachers should work more collaboratively.

They also wanted the board to institute a merit-pay program for teachers so good teachers are rewarded, to provide teachers more feedback, and to create a way to energize teachers by creating competition among them.

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.