Parents study system

GLOVERSVILLE – Parents of elementary school children had questions Monday about how to help their children succeed as well as what the district is doing to help with the transition to the new Common Core educational standards.

About 50 people attended the nearly three-hour session at Gloversville Middle School about the state Education Department’s new Common Core learning standards.

District Superintendent Michael Vanyo, Assistant Superintendent Frank Pickus and elementary school principals answered questions during the program.

The event began with an explanation of Common Core and how it came about, followed by Pickus showing parents how to navigate and find information on the Engage NY website.

He showed the website has dozens of videos to show parents how lessons are being taught in the classroom and what parents can do to help their children with the homework being brought home.

Vanyo said the district has a parent room in every building for those who don’t have Internet access at home.

Following the presentation by Pickus, parents were led to the cafeteria, where about 20 teachers for each grade level were waiting at tables to answer questions about how Common Core is being used in the classroom.

Many of the teachers said the biggest question being asked by parents is how to help their children when the parents don’t understand what is being asked.

Fourth-grade Boulevard Elementary School teacher Catherine Stearns showed some parents how Common Core is being used in reading assignments.

In the auditorium, school administrators fielded questions about the new standards.

One parent, Lisa Robare, asked why the district no longer has AIS math for students in the elementary school.

Pickus said the district eliminated the AIS math program at the elementary level several years ago due to budgetary restraints, but the schools still offer tutoring after school. Vanyo also said the new eSpark program on the iPads is available to work on each student’s weakness as well.

Another parent was concerned the new standards may hurt efforts to improve the graduation rate.

School administrators said it is their job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“Change is never easy for anybody, and this is the first year of this, so my hope is every year this will get better,” Vanyo said.

The district offers tips regarding for parents dealing with the new system. Among them: Read what the child is reading and ask each other questions; communicate with the child’s teacher to work on weaknesses.

The district will hold a similar event for parents of children at the middle and high schools on Dec. 9 at the middle school.