Here's How This School Is Preparing Students for Success at Home and School

Apr 28, 2016 12:00:00 AM

by Christine Alonzo

Long after the last school bell rang, the halls and classrooms of Pascual LeDoux Academy were bustling. More than 80 families in this primarily Latino community had gone back to school to learn about academic goals, upcoming tests and how to help their children do well in school. While parents understand that high expectations set at home are critical, thanks in part to the Colorado Academic Standards, they can rest assured that their children will also be held to high expectations at school—regardless of where they live or how much money they make. The reality is that these families know they have no time to lose. Colorado is expected to have the third highest share of jobs that demand postsecondary training or education among all states by 2020. According to a recent report from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, nearly 60 percent of Hispanic students from the 2014 high school class did not go on to college. For students that do, many arrive in college only to discover they are not academically prepared to succeed. In 2013, 69 percent of incoming Hispanic students needed to take remediation courses at two-year colleges in Colorado, compared to 51 percent of white students. Beyond just being discouraging, the financial burden of having to take classes on things students should have learned in high school can dissuade many from completing their degree.

Meeting Parents Where They Are

That’s why Climb Higher Colorado and the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization (CLLARO) joined with Denver Public Schools to facilitate “Academic Standards” nights to provide parents with information on the tools and resources available to help their children succeed. Sessions like the one at Pascual LeDoux Academy work to meet parents where they are. Dinner and childcare were provided for the two hour event and translators were present so that parents who are more comfortable in Spanish could follow along. For a school like Pascual LeDoux, at which nearly 90 percent of the students are English-language learners, these accommodations made all the difference. Teachers and administrators worked hand in hand with us to put together breakout sessions for parents where they were provided with information about the reading, writing and math skills their kids are learning in the classroom, activities that they could take home to reinforce lessons in school and how the PARCC exam provides a measure of where their child is doing well and where they may need extra help. Parents learned about free resources such as the PARCC practice test that can be taken at home or at the public library (if they do not have access to a computer) which provides a sense of the reading, writing and math topics that will be on the test. We owe it to these parents to provide them with as much information as we can—which includes helping them understand the kind of information provided through end-of-year tests. While some are choosing to opt out of the education process, we know that only opting in ensures that we have data on how students are performing and importantly, how well schools are serving all of our children. [pullquote]The message we had for every parent in the room was that they were not alone in supporting their child’s education. [/pullquote]As one parent who attended a session said, “I now feel empowered to help my student at home because I now know how important these activities are for their future.” Preparing our kids for college and career is a goal that everyone can agree on. But it’s not enough to simply get to college—our students need to be ready to succeed once they get there. Doing that takes high standards, effective tests that measure where they are and a village filled with caring families, educators and community members helping them every step of the way.

Christine Alonzo

Christine Alonzo is the executive director of the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization (CLLARO). Christine is the former president of LULAC Council #3043 in Pueblo Colorado, and the former vice president of the LCLAA Denver Chapter where she served for four years. She previously served as former executive director of the Pueblo Human Relations Commission and executive director for AFSCME in Southern Colorado. Christine was born in Las Vegas New Mexico; she came to Colorado in 1988. She has three children and a 5-year-old granddaughter.

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