, Port Arthur, Texas

October 7, 2013

First grading period ends; parents should discuss grades with students

Mark Porterie
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Last Friday ended the first six-week grading period.  On October 11, Secondary instructors will hand out the first report card for the 2013-2014 school year to students.  

This will be the time for parents to sit and discuss grades with their children and, with that knowledge, either give kudos for a job well done or start to create an intervention plan.  

Report cards will not be given out to students in the elementary grades PreK-5 until Parent Teacher conferences, which have been scheduled for Wednesday, October 16 thru Friday, October 18.  This will be an opportunity for parents to sit and discuss their child’s progress.  There are five questions that parents should consider discussing with their child’s teacher: What skills and knowledge will my child be expected to master this year?

  This is the time to get a quick overview of the state curriculum, TEKS, and how your child’s teacher is going to deliver the curriculum.  How will my child be evaluated?  Parents need to know the expectations that teachers have for their class.  Not just grades, but behavior, attendance, and communication skills within the classroom.  All of these things are evaluated by the teacher.  What can I do to stay more involved in my child’s academic progress?  The main thing that we ask parents to do is to support the schools in their efforts.  We do not expect parents to specifically teach a subject at home; we just want parents to support the school by ensuring their child comes to school every day ready to learn.  That means ready with the tools in hand, pencil, paper, completed homework, and, most of all, mentally and emotionally ready to learn.  How do you accommodate differences in learning?  As parents we know where our children are in need of a little more assistance.  Communicate with the teacher your concerns and get clarity as to how the needs of your child will be met.  How are older students prepared for further learning after high school?  We cannot wait until our students are promoted to middle school to start the conversation about what they want to do with their lives.  Students have to be encouraged to think about a wide variety of career interests.  We speak of a vast amount of career options that our students have and we must ensure that they are exposed to these options.  

The elementary years are critical to the success of a child’s future.  Parents and teachers are encouraged to develop a partnership that students understand is in their best interest.  Students should be clear that the parent/guardian and the school are working together on their behalf.  There should be a seamless connection that students understand cannot be divided or penetrated.  

I want to congratulate the students, parents/guardians and employees of the Port Arthur Independent School District for a terrific first six weeks of school.  During our Student Advisory Council meeting, our secondary students expressed their approval on the direction in which their schools are moving.  Students communicated their appreciation of teachers having high expectations for their classes and pushing them toward excellence.  Students were proud to communicate their grades to a crowd of more than 75 people in the room.  Our students presented themselves respectfully and with the determination that they desire to be successful AND will be successful.  

That is why it is so important for the home and school to continue to work together and be on the same page when it comes to the children of Port Arthur.  We are convinced that our children want to be children.  They want structure and limitations.  Children deserve to be protected from adult issues.  They should feel safe in their homes and in their schools.  Children should not have to fend for themselves.  As adults, we should always be willing to care for our children no matter what circumstances we face.   As a parent, I feel that it is our responsibility to ensure that our children have every opportunity to surpass us in what we have accomplished.  One of the greatest accomplishments a parent can achieve is to raise their children to be successful, self-sufficient adults.  

I am confident that the Port Arthur community will rise to the challenge to ensure that every child in our community is cared for mentally, physically, emotionally, and in every other way possible. It is what we have done in the past and what we are going to do in the future.

Mark Porterie is superintendent of schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District.