The campaign is called “Is My Child Ready?” and is led by Houston A+ Challenge, Neighborhood Centers, Families Empowered and the city of Houston. Its goal is to motivate parents to talk to their kids about how they did on the STAAR test — the standardized test all Texas students need to take – and to keep parents involved in their kids’ performance long term.
STAAR, or State Of Texas Assessments Of Academic Readiness, replaced the so-called TAKS test last year and is considered more rigorous than its predecessor.
Scott Van Beck is with Houston A+ Challenge, a nonprofit committed to preparing students for college.
“There’s nothing more important in a child’s life than to know where they fall on a performance chart, if you will. Whether it’s good news, whether it’s bad news, I think the worst news is not knowing, or maybe not knowing where that child is and where that child needs to go.”
The campaign will use text messaging, e-mail, public information sessions as well as billboards and posters throughout the Houston area to reach as many parents as possible.
Claudia Vasquez is with Neighborhood Centers, whose self-declared mission is to bring education and resources to emerging neighborhoods. She says parental involvement is critical for students’ success.
“There is nothing out there that research indicates that is much more important. You hear the one, two, three stories of those kids who just did not have it and they are shining and just did outstanding in Ivy League. Well, those are great but those are exceptions. Our kids need parent involvement.”
It’s especially “hard-to-reach” parents that the campaign targets — those who work several jobs or don’t speak English, Vasquez says.
“Our hope is to really arm those hard-to-reach parents that don’t have an idea on how to get involved in the school. Not that they don’t want to but they just don’t know how to make that beginning.”
While the campaign aims to help students get ready for college, which Van Beck says is increasingly expected by employers in the 21st century, he realizes some might not be made for higher education.
“What we want to do is really get kids prepared for, what we used to call when I was in the school district, grade 13. Whether that’s college, whether that’s a career, these kids just need to be ready to go and there’s a lot of research right now that tells us that there are kids that are being passed through the system that aren’t ready to go.”