How parents can help close the achievement gap

Educator encourages close collaboration between home and school


By Dr. Levette Evans Thomas, Ed.D

Contributing Writer


I believe as an educator I can effectively contribute to closing the achievement gap. It is important for parents to believe they can be passionate about helping their children achieve academic and social success to close the achievement gap in a school community of high expectations.

We are to value each child in our community. Every child can learn. I am passionate and I love teaching. Parents, become passionate and love your job as your child’s primary and most valued teacher.

The opening of the No Child left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001) states: “The purpose of this title is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach a minimum proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and academic assessments. These requirements mean they must consider many layers of complexities when teaching reading. Implementation is key.”

front_doinghomework2Knowledgeable, well-prepared teachers who adjust their instruction for the learner’s need is important. I adjust the learning all year to accommodate the needs of the students I teach. Parents can adjust their instruction at home to meet the needs of their children.

Reading is a critical skill to ensure academic success across subject areas. Students who struggle to read are diagnosed often as learning disabled and subsequently placed in special education programs. In the inner-city elementary school context, students’ inability to read is associated highly with low intelligence, and that may not always be the case with all inner-city students who are unable to read.

I am a strong reading teacher, and I believe my ability to use various instructional methods, to create documents and use assessments to chart students’ progress will effectively close the achievement gap across content areas. If a student is unable to read the subject matter, they will be hindered in their achievement. Success in the reading program is key to success across content areas.

 Dr. Levette Evans Thomas Photo courtesy of   Dr. Levette Evans Thomas
Dr. Levette Evans Thomas
Photo courtesy of
Dr. Levette Evans Thomas

Reading is not a one-size-fits-all. Parents and teachers must do whatever it takes to reach the student. It may take more than one method of instruction to reach a student. Let’s use various methods to teach students who need extra attention to learn how to read at grade level.

I create formative assessments to guide the instruction, and I use curriculum-based measures to track students’ fluency. I look at summative data to inform me of the long-term goal for students learning to read. I also believe in sharing data with students and parents in the form of feedback as much as possible.

Research-based and effective instruction that students can maintain engagement in will improve reading skills. We need to foster good readers who have better comprehension across subject areas. Students and teachers can work together to look at their school data in real time and monitor progress closely.

Parents can create assessments at home. High expectations and the gradual release of responsibility to students to chart their progress and enjoy their successes will encourage and maintain honest, transparent communication.

Closing the achievement gap is my goal as an educator. Let’s work together as a home-school connection to foster a learning environment that will help your child succeed. I am writing to parents as a bridge to connect with you so that I can offer ideas to work with your child to improve reading and writing skills.


Activity for home:

Word power! Time to read and write.

This is an assignment to do at home for elementary students. You may adjust the level of expectation depending on the skill level of your child.

• Purpose: student will write to describe something or someone after reading a nonfiction magazine or book about their favorite animal or pet. It is a good idea to pick up books from the library if you can.

• Materials: pencil, paper, picture of animals or pets, a book on the subject

• Directions: Pick a picture of your pet or any animal you chose. Write a letter or a paragraph to a friend or relative about your pet. Tell about the pet (use descriptive adjectives). Tell the pet’s name. Tell as many things as you can about your pet.

• Helpful hint: You may want to make some notes or lists about the animal before you begin writing.

Reflection: Read the letter aloud to someone in the family Enjoy!


Dr. Levette Evans Thomas Ed.D welcomes reader responses to