At Robbie E. Howard Eighth Grade Center, teachers and parents have come together in an effort to engage families in their child’s academic behavior.

Research has shown that the more educators engage families in the academic lives of their children, the more likely the students will perform at higher levels and Howard teachers and staff want just that.

Over the course of the past few weeks, Howard teachers have been working hard to schedule parent conferences and have made every effort to arrange the parent-teacher conferences when it is most convenient for the parent -– many times these conferences are held late in the evening. New to Howard this year is the weekly advisory class in which about 15 students meet with an assigned teacher. The advisory teacher works with the parents of these 15 students and, in turn, is able to offer more one on one time with the child’s parents.

During the conferences, parents are given a personalized folder with their child’s individual report card, student absence information, monitoring sheets that explain to a parent why their child’s grades may be low in a particular area, basic facts about the Howard Eighth Grade Center and TAKS testing dates for the spring.

Additionally, parents were also praised for the academic successes that their child has had thus far. The folders were a byproduct of Howard counselors and front office staff working late into the evenings and on Saturdays to complete the individual student portfolios.

The new initiative has met much success as Howard has seen more than 200 parents come through the door – a rarity in secondary education as a whole. Every effort is being made to contact all parents and to meet them on their terms. Many teachers have seen the entire family attending the conferences – mom, dad, grandparents and siblings.

Eighth-grade parent Darla Wilson welcomed the opportunity to meet with her child’s teachers.

“We have not had a parent conference since the fifth grade,” Wilson said. “Once students are enrolled in the secondary schools, many times teachers and parents do not meet unless there is a problem. It was so nice to meet with someone about my child’s classes and to understand the expectations for the eighth grade.

“I think this is a great effort,” she said.

Another Howard parent, Sandra Acosta, has also seen the conferences with the advisory teacher as very beneficial.

“The conference definitely gave me an insight on what is going on with my child. As a parent, it is comforting to know that the advisory teacher can be a contact person that I can depend on for information on my child,” Acosta said.

Waxahachie ISD believes that families feel engaged with their child’s school when they find personal meaning and relevance in their child’s educational experiences and also when they receive positive support from school staff on a regular basis. Howard Eighth Grade Center is committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure that their parents are engaged and informed. For more information on Howard Eighth Grade Center or to schedule a parent conference, contact the school at 972-923-4771.