Peter Bergman of Columbia University has designed a program dubbed Project Lift that will be used in Grand Rapids, Michigan’s public schools to enable the district to regularly text parents information about their children.
Project Lift – Linking Information and Families Together – will assess whether providing direct updates and educational enhancements to parents will help them be more supportive of their children’s school success and will result in achievement gains. Parents who have voluntarily registered have students at one of the three pilot schools. Monica Scott, writing for MLive Media Group, shares a quote from the program’s designer:
“We have evidence that suggests something as simple and affordable as regular text messages can help a parent know when to step in, ask about a school assignment, and help encourage student success,” said Bergman, a national expert in the economics of education.
“All the parents I’ve worked with care deeply about their children’s achievement in school, but many are lacking actionable information in real time. New technologies make it easier than ever to share this information.”
Five community organizations are partnering with the pilot program to assist parents by meeting with families individually to help them understand how to use the information that is sent to them, how to read a report card, and how to collaborate with teachers. Because of programs like Parent University, parents have expressed a desire to have more access to their children’s performance and progress and more information about activities and events.
“All teens need accountability to achieve their full potential. When we share valuable information with parents, that’s good communication. When parents hold their teens accountable, that’s good parenting, and one of the best ways to show you love your kids.”
About 1,200 parents and students have signed up for the pilot program which is part of Believe 2 Become, which is “a community initiative working to increase the academic achievement of students in four Grand Rapids geographically-designated ‘hope zones,’” Grand Rapids Public Schools said.
A new Apple application is also becoming very popular with the education and parent communities. Remind is an app that targets communication among teachers, students, and parents. Having been downloaded by about 1 million teachers and 17 million parents and students, it is at the top of the App Store chart.
CEO Brett Kopf said teachers can create take-home quizzes, track attendance, or survey students and other teachers, which will make parent emails and paper handouts ancient history. All the features on the app were requested by teachers. Parents who have packed schedules or crazy shifts at work, can now be virtually present in spite of scheduling hitches.
Jeff Knutson of Graphite gives some tips about tech tools that boost teacher-parent communication. Google Sites and Weebly are easy to use, are engaging and can be extremely informative, he writes. A class blog is also great for classroom updates and for student blogging projects, with WordPress, Blogger, and Edublogs as popular options.