How to improve school? — The Bump
School-Aged Children

How to improve school?

My neighborhood school.... well, it just isn't good. I'm not sure exactly why. It doesn't have a good reputation and their test scores are very low compared to the state average. I think it might be correlated to SES because I know they have a large percentage of the students on free or reduced lunch. They generally rate poorly on school review scales. I have 2 years before DS starts school and I would really like to do some things to help improve the school. I have no idea what though. Any ideas? I am planning on calling them sometime soon to see if there is a PTO but I don't think there is.

Re: How to improve school?

  • If there is not a PTO then talk to the principal about starting one but make sure it is really to improve the school and not for silly unneeded things because many PTOs focus on the wrong things. Maybe you can also look into reading incentive programs that give something to the kids for reading and offer to coordinate the program for the teachers. See if they would let you come in and volunteer with the Kindergarten or First Grade? Offer to get a background check and give any credentials you have like college or working or volunteering with kids.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • imageLittlejen22:
    If there is not a PTO then talk to the principal about starting one but make sure it is really to improve the school and not for silly unneeded things because many PTOs focus on the wrong things. Maybe you can also look into reading incentive programs that give something to the kids for reading and offer to coordinate the program for the teachers. See if they would let you come in and volunteer with the Kindergarten or First Grade? Offer to get a background check and give any credentials you have like college or working or volunteering with kids.

    Maybe I don't actually know what a PTO does  Embarrassed  I thought they'd do things like fundraising for school items (gym equipment, textbooks, extra curricular activities, etc), spelling bee teams, help with extra programs for the school like fall festivals and such (again, hopefully for fundraising). A reading incentive program sounds awesome! I will definitely bring that up if I join. Hopefully I'll be able to volunteer as well. Thanks!


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  • imagenew+tothis:

    imageLittlejen22:
    If there is not a PTO then talk to the principal about starting one but make sure it is really to improve the school and not for silly unneeded things because many PTOs focus on the wrong things. Maybe you can also look into reading incentive programs that give something to the kids for reading and offer to coordinate the program for the teachers. See if they would let you come in and volunteer with the Kindergarten or First Grade? Offer to get a background check and give any credentials you have like college or working or volunteering with kids.

    Maybe I don't actually know what a PTO does  Embarrassed  I thought they'd do things like fundraising for school items (gym equipment, textbooks, extra curricular activities, etc), spelling bee teams, help with extra programs for the school like fall festivals and such (again, hopefully for fundraising). A reading incentive program sounds awesome! I will definitely bring that up if I join. Hopefully I'll be able to volunteer as well. Thanks!


    Yeah in our area there seems to be a disproportionate focus on fun stuff versus stuff that would really benefit the kids. In most situations the school should at the very minimum provide for the basic minimums and there should be more on top of that but with budget cuts schools have relied more and more on the money to help out and save things that will be lost. Really a Principal should not be the one dictating the PTO but if the school is failing then they might know what could help. Or then again you could argue the Peincipal is failing. Good luck!
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • On one hand, I'm going to give you a cynical answer: there is little that one mom, or even one mom who rallies a team of other enthusiastic parents, can do to raise standardized test scores at a school.  

    I agree that you should absolutely volunteer and get involved in the PTO, because those things will contribute positively to the school.  However, you should not expect those efforts to make a big difference to the school's academic rating in time for your son to start kindergarten.  There are many other factors that influence a school's performance on those tests that are far more powerful than PTO programs.

    However, there's also an optimistic side to my answer.  Just because your home school is in a low SES area and the school has low test scores doesn't mean that your child can't get a great education there.  If the school has an excellent administration and fantastic teachers, your child will have a good experience.  If he's academically advanced, he'll be grouped with others at his level (they'll be there, just not in as high concentration as if you lived in a more affluent area.)  

    If you get in there, and the administration seems to be clueless, and the teachers seem frustrated, discouraged, and burnt out, then you're probably in for a bumpy ride. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • Thanks! I think the low test scores reflect that the school has a lot of ESL students. I know that whatever I do probably won't help the school ratings but I'm hoping it might help the school experience, kwim? I agree that if the staff if burnt out and/or frustrated that it's pretty pointless.

  • KatFCoKatFCo member

    Ask the teachers what you can do to help. If they need funds for better books, activities or even breakfast for the kids, try to organize one. Low SES schools often have limited funds because funding tends to be tied to property taxes.

    They might also benefit from having parent volunteers come in and help read to the kids or be an aide in other ways. Or, maybe some kids could benefit from homework help, so maybe try to start an after school program.

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