Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frostig Center Parent's Guide for Succesful Children

The Frostig Center is a non-profit organization that specializes in working with children who have learning disabilities.  Ms. Bennett Ross, Executive Director of the Center, posted in our Blog that there is a free Parent's Guide available for download at their website. The guide is based on a 20-year research, where the Center traced the lives of individuals with learning disabilities to identify factors that predicted successful life outcomes. The factors discussed in the guide were self-awareness, proactivity, perseverance, goal setting, the presence and use of effective support systems, and emotional coping strategies.  Although the guide focused on children with learning disabilities, these factors apply to all kids and adults. I believe this guide could help all of us become better parents and teachers for our children.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Scottish Rite seminar on children's self-esteem

On February 3rd, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar titled "Fostering strengths and building self-esteem in children with dyslexia and related disorders". The seminar was presented by Dr. Monte Davenport, Diagnostic Services Coordinator at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and was attended by over 50 GCISD parents and administrators. Dr. Davenport discussed the symptoms of low self-esteem and their long term impact on our kids. He also discussed what we as parents can do to break the low-self-esteem cycle in order to help our children succeed. His presentation was based on the study by the Frostig Center titled "Predictors of success in individuals with learning disabilities".

The success attributes discussed were self-awareness, self-acceptance and proactivity. According to Dr. Devenport, the goal of self-awareness is to help our child understand that his difficulties are not who he is as a person. In terms of self-acceptance, the presentation discussed steps that parents and teachers can take to help students change their negative "self-talk". "Self-talk" is what children think of themselves when facing difficult situations. Finally, Dr. Davenport encouraged parents to be proactive by establishing a support network for their children. The support group includes teachers, counselors, tutors and other parents and children with similar experiences.

For more information, you can access the whole presentation with this link.

The Frostig Center study summary can be found in this link.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

GCISD's Advanced Placement (AP) Program

Currently 54% of GCISD graduates attend a 4-year college, and 72% attend either a 2 or 4-year college. One of the keys to continue to improve on these figures is to increase the enrollment in our Advanced Placement (AP) program. This program offers students the opportunity to take college level courses at our high schools, which gives students the chance to earn a higher credit weight per class versus standard courses. Also, students in AP courses can take an end of year course exam, which allows them to earn college credits based on their test scores.

In summary, AP courses give students the experience of a college course while having the support provided in a high school environment. Performance in AP courses is a good barometer to predict future success in college. However, even students that do not pass the end of year AP exams are well served for their future college lives by having the experience of a more rigorous high school coursework.

The following table compares the AP programs of the main suburban districts in North Texas, based on student participation and passing rates. The data was provided by the TEA and College Board websites for the 2007-2008 school year. The AP exam passing criteria is a score of 3 or above.
As the table shows, GCISD has the second highest participation rate in North Texas, and the 6th highest AP exam passing rate. It is expected that a higher level of participation in the AP program will result in a lower passing rate among students. However, top AP programs continue to increase student participation while maintaining or increasing the exam passing rates.

In order to compare the AP programs among school districts, a simple calculation that gives equal weight to participation and passing rates could be used. The AP Index included in the table is based on multiplying the participation and passing rates for each district. Using this figure, GCISD places 4th among AP programs in North Texas.

I would like to encourage all parents to get more information about the pre-AP and AP programs offered at our secondary schools, in order to help us make all students aware of these options. GCISD has a very strong AP program, and all our students should take advantage of this opportunity.