I-TEAM: How to improve your kids’ performance in school

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Our I-TEAM continues to investigate the Richmond County School System, a district with failing marks when compared to others across the state.

We analyzed local data to identify our best and worst-performing schools over the last year.

The majority of the students are Black in Richmond County. Half of the student body lives in poverty.

Historically, low-income students don’t perform as well as high-income students, and we found the income achievement gap has only widened over the past few decades.

But there’s a way for parents and caregivers to try to close that gap.

To address these deficiencies, the district has a strategic plan with five outlined goals. The first two are student achievement and success.

The second is parent, family, and community engagement.

The two goals go hand in hand.

Research shows that low-income students are just as successful as high-income students when a parent becomes engaged in their child’s education.

Monique Braswell’s home is as full as her heart.

Monique raised three other children before Nasire and his sister Shakari came into her life.

Over the years, she’s learned to navigate the school system responsible for her babies’ education.

Nasire is autistic. Monique knows her son’s success in school depends on her.

“I think we expect the school to do everything when they should be doing 50 percent and we as parents should be doing 50 percent.”

The income achievement gap among minorities has exponentially widened over the past few decades, but research shows parental involvement can bridge that gap.

A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found: “although there was an achievement gap in the average literacy performance between children of more and less educated mothers if families involvement levels were low, this gap was nonexistent if family involvement levels were high.”

Liz: “Who is the biggest advocate for your child?”

Monique: “You, you the parent. If I just send my kid to school and ask no questions then I am going to get what I am going to get.”

Her questions led to her daughter getting the accommodations she needed once she began the response to the intervention or RTI process.

Monique: “My child’s RTI process started last year, and we are still in it. And the reason for that is that it isn’t on the school part of that is on me. I didn’t go back and say okay what are we doing here this process has been taking too long but I didn’t follow it personally so on me so now we are following it and we are on track to where she has a 504 at this moment which will cover her in any areas until we come back to the table for the last portion of the RTI.”

She is a regular at the table for both of her children. Her daughter is in the RTI process and her son with an IEP or individualized educational program is given to students with special needs.

Monique: “For me when I am sitting down at the table making sure the school understands everything about my child or the IEP won’t work.”

Family engagement equals student success no matter the alphabet soup the caregivers have to navigate within the school system- RTI, IEP or BIP, behavioral intervention plan.

The I-TEAM also found the nonprofit group Waterford found children with families engaged in their education are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, graduate and attend post-secondary education, develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom and have better social skills and classroom behavior.

“In order for your child to be educated the way they need to be educated then you and the teacher need to work hand in hand,” explains Monique.

Parental engagement is a challenge when you are working two jobs to pay the bills and moving from home to home every few months…. which is why the federal government gives money to title one school districts like Richmond County to invest not only in their students but the parents, too.

Meanwhile, three Board of Education members face challengers in Richmond County.

Early voting began this week. News 12 has interviewed the candidates and all next week, you will hear from them about important issues like parental engagement, crime in our schools and student achievement, homelessness, and special needs.