Maryland PTA Helps Parents Interpret Results of New PARCC Assessments

parccThis past spring, millions of students across the country took the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics for the first time. Parents are now receiving their children’s scores from the tests.

Since these are new tests and assess skills like critical-thinking and problem-solving, the score reports may look different from reports provided to families from previous tests. As part of its ongoing commitment to help families navigate the changes taking place in classrooms, Maryland PTA collaborated with the Maryland State Department of Education to conduct webinars and in-person programs for parents across the state to answer their questions on the new assessments, help them interpret their children’s scores on the tests and empower them with tools and resources to support their children’s success. The information sessions also were designed to help parents work together with their children’s teachers and administrators to fill gaps in learning as determined from the PARCC results to ensure children graduate prepared for college and careers.

The PARCC tests measure the extent to which students are learning the knowledge and skills they need to progress in their K-12 education and beyond. The new score reports are designed to be actionable and be tools for parents to understand where their child is doing well and where there may be a need for additional support. This information, along with grades, teacher feedback and scores on other tests, will help give parents a more complete picture of how well their child is performing academically.

As part of the information sessions, Maryland PTA utilized and features a search engine where parents can find tools and resources—in English and Spanish—specific to their child’s needs­. includes a Score Report Guide to help parents identify the key factors that determine their child’s performance on the PARCC test, as well as his/her academic gaps and strengths in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Once parents pinpoint their child’s strengths or needs, they can connect to resources, tools and activities that support their child’s achievement.

We know every parent wants the best for their children and wants to support their learning in the most effective ways. Maryland PTA will continue to deliver regularly-updated, timely information to help parents feel confident and informed.

Parents can visit to learn more about the PARCC results and to receive regular updates with tools, tips and resources.

Elizabeth Ysla Leight is the president at Maryland PTA.

PTA – The “P” is for Passion

montana PTAWhat is passion? The dictionary says it is “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling.” Another definition that I tend to like more says, “Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it.”

Now, what does passion mean to you?

We are all busy and have mastered the art of doing enough to get by. For instance, I throw a frozen pizza in the oven and call it “dinner,” instead of making the dough fresh, tossing that homemade dough in the air, crushing homegrown tomatoes into a rich pizza sauce; arranging the ingredients on the pizza in a way that will allow each hungry diner a perfect bite—why? Because I don’t have a passion for it.

So why do we do the things we do?

  • Sense of duty
  • Social obligation
  • Money or status
  • For fun or enjoyment

We take on tasks, jobs and projects for these reasons all the time. Sure we will probably fulfill our obligations, but we may dread doing it again—and probably won’t do it again—because we aren’t doing it for the right reason—PASSION.

Years ago when I joined PTA, we were 6 million members strong, but now membership has been steadily declining. I wonder why this is. Moms and dads still are concerned about their children’s education. We know how vital it is to engage with our children’s teachers. Surely we want to be involved in decisions that will not just impact our own children, but the lives of children long into the future.

For years, I had to explain why I was so heavily involved with PTA. The answer was always easy, because PTA gave me so much more than I ever gave PTA. My parents were not involved in my school activities, which made me decide I wanted more for my own kids. PTA taught me lessons that I may have never learned anywhere else. It made me a much stronger mother, a more confident leader and without being too melodramatic—a better person.

When I first joined PTA, I quickly found out that I wholeheartedly believed in its principles and understood why people cared so deeply about it. I still believe in PTA today. I believe that we must continue to fight and advocate for children, because if we don’t, who will?

I was really moved by a workshop that Sherry—our Montana PTA president—presented, called the “History of PTA.” She shared the obstacles that early members encountered; blizzards with 10 feet high snow drifts, traveling across the country by train to go to meetings. They were fighting for such important causes: child labor, vaccinations for children, feeding them hot and healthy lunches while they were at school, the list goes on and on. So many of these things we take for granted, because these strong industrious women had a notion (or you could say a passion) that we could do better for our children.

I am so thankful for the time that I spent knee deep in the trenches for PTA. I look around at my PTA family, my friends, friends that I have made because of PTA. And I am most grateful to be a part of the past of Montana PTA, and I implore all of you to be the brightest future!

Around my 40th Birthday I began a quest to live a bigger, better life, and with that idea I came up with a personal mantra that I think is relevant here today: “Status quo has to go.” We can no longer accept that someone else will step up; we must be the ones. We cannot accept our little comfort zones we have made for ourselves, we must break out. Please think BIG for yourselves and for PTA. Don’t limit yourselves. Your potential is beyond measure.

Thank you all for coming and Happy Birthday Montana PTA!

Danielle Kopp is a member of Montana PTA. She gave this speech at the 2015 Montana PTA Convention.