Educators exasperated by the need for greater parent involvement have persuaded Tennessee lawmakers to sign off on a novel bit of arm-twisting: asking parents to grade themselves on report cards.
Another Tennessee measure signed into law recently will create parent contracts that give them step-by-step guidelines for pitching in. The report card bill—which would initially apply to two struggling schools—passed the legislature, and Republican Gov. William Haslam has said he is likely to sign it.
Only a few states have passed laws that put helping with homework or attending teacher conferences into writing.
Under Tennessee’s contract legislation, parents in each school district are asked to sign a document agreeing to review homework and attend school functions or teacher conferences, among other things. Since it’s voluntary, there is no penalty for failing to uphold the contract but advocates say simply providing a roadmap for involvement is an important step.
A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2012 edition of Education Week as Tenn. Signs Off On Parent Report Card