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Check progress at conferences

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The school year is well under way, and students will soon be faced with their first round of grades and their parents the first conferences of the year with teachers.

Albuquerque Public Schools middle school conferences are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.. Elementary conferences will be on Nov. 25 and 26.

Conferences might be the first contact, other than registration, that families have with the school, said Vicki Price, a counselor at Desert Ridge Middle School. Even if that’s not the case, conferences are important.

“I know a lot of parents feel they talk to their kids a lot and know this stuff, but this is a formal format,” she said. “It’s good for your kids. …It’s good even for the most involved parent.”

APS middle and high schools are expected to conduct student-led conferences, Price said, and that means students do most of the talking. They create portfolios of their work with help from their teacher.

“They show parents what they have been doing,” she said. “It’s a way to communicate how they are doing to their parents.”

Lynne M. Antoun, a counselor at Eubank Academy of Literacy and Fine Arts, said at the elementary level, the teacher and parent are more involved in running the conference, because the child is younger.

She advised parents to sign and return their conference slips as soon as possible so they have a time that works for them. She said that would also be when a parent could request more conference time if there are any issues they want to discuss.

Elementary parents can expect to find out how their child is doing in comparison to grade-level expectations. Antoun said parents should be aware that performance is measured by numbers, not letter grades or the old-fashioned plus or minus signs.

Students can be rated on a scale of 1 to 4 in each area. A “1″ indicates the student is performing below grade level and a “4″ indicates he or she is exceeding grade-level standards.

Parents should not be afraid to talk about sensitive topics with the teacher, Antoun said.

“If anything changes in the home that could impact learning, the teacher needs to know about that,” Antoun said. “Be honest about it. They may direct the parent somewhere for support and/or maybe to outside resources.”

Antoun said while conferences are important, the best approach is to stay in contact with the teacher all year.

“Don’t wait for conferences if you have concerns,” she said. “Keep an open line of communication. Be able to listen to the teacher’s point of view and be open to what they are saying.”

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