Opening Doors
Tips for hosting a PARCC family night in Elementary School
Consider hosting a movie night for the students in the
cafeteria or other room at the same time, so parents don’t
need to get a babysitter. Local teenagers can keep an eye
on the children and earn community service hours.
These tests will help us ensure that all students, regardless
of income or family background, have equal access to a
world-class education that will prepare them for success in
college and careers.
Create a parking lot for questions or have information
booths to answer families’ questions. Make sure to remind
families that they will get additional information through
follow up communications from the school in a newsletter,
email or flier.
Offer translation and interpretation services for families.
Consider asking students’ family members to be volunteer
These tests will help students achieve, which will lead to a
better-educated workforce, stronger communities and a
more competitive United States.
Create family packets or resource stations and include a
place to take notes. Consider lending pencils or pens to
those who forgot their own.
Incorporate key information throughout the evening.
New standards create the need for new assessments.
These tests not only evaluate students’ progress, but also
show teachers and parents where a student needs help so
they are able to personalize instruction to meet individual
student needs.
These tests serve as an educational GPS system, assessing
where a student currently is and determining the best route
to get to where they need to be by graduation so they are
career and college ready.
The new standards will improve student achievement over
time as teachers and students get used to the new standards
and tests. Reports of fewer students meeting grade-level
expectations don’t necessarily mean that schools are
performing worse or that students are learning less.
Make families feel welcome!
Just like you do with your students, greet families at the
door and direct them to the right place.
Begin with a welcome and overview.
Explain the shift to new standards and PARCC using a
PowerPoint or video.
Address anxieties that come with change but set a positive
tone throughout the night. Focus on how these changes
will benefit students.
Encourage families to write down their questions to ask
during small group sessions, at the information booths or
to record in the parking lot.
Tips for hosting a PARCC family night in Elementary School
After the overview, consider moving families to classrooms
for smaller group presentations.
Smaller groups can help families feel more comfortable
asking questions and can give them an opportunity to learn
more information about how they can help their individual
Offer continued support beyond the family night event.
Provide resources and information about who parents should
contact if they have questions.
Offer to host an “Understanding the Score Report” night in
late spring. More resources, including a video, will be
available later this year.
Check with your local or state PTA and other PARCC
partners to see if they have webinars or other parent
information nights to share with attendees.
Examples of small group sessions include:
• Family members become the students. Demonstrate how
new standards are implemented in the classroom by
delivering a lesson to the parents and family members.
Consider grouping attendees by subject or grade and starting
with a grade specific video. Ask family members to share
how they solve problems or reason through the lesson just
like you do with your students!
• Homework help role playing. Ask for parent and student
volunteers to role play working through a challenging
homework assignment. Remind families that they do not
have to be an expert in a subject to help with homework.
Families should stay positive and value productive struggle
as natural and necessary to learning.
• Student-led sessions: Have students show families how they
would complete a short assignment or PARCC practice test
item. Moderate the session and remain available as a resource
to the students.
• Take the test sessions: Offer parents and families the
opportunity to take a PARCC practice test using the same
format (tablet, desktop or pencil and paper) as their student.
If your school is using the computer-based assessment, show
families the technology tutorial and explain how your school
is incorporating technology into the classroom. If your school
is using the paper-based assessment, share your school or
district’s plan to shift to computer-based testing.
• Score report review: Show families a sample score report
and provide a walk through on what kind of information will
be displayed on different parts of the report. Discuss what
information is useful to have about their students and why.
Consider showing them ways in which you will use this
information to help their students in the classroom. Provide
sample questions that family members can ask teachers about
their student’s progress. (We will have more information on
this topic coming soon.)