There is no requirement for any kind of “goal-setting.” However, informally setting a joint goal or two with the family might be a good way to “establish a partnership.” More info below.
There is no requirement or expectation of sharing any assessment data at this conference.
In our current contract (no change from last year), NSEA and the NSD Administration agree:
18.8.2: Elementary parent-teacher conferences shall be held in the afternoons for four half-days of instruction in early October and two half-days of instruction in early February. October conferences shall be offered to the families of all students. The purpose of these conferences is to enhance the teachers’ understanding of the students’ needs, interests, and learning styles and establishing a partnership with parents or guardians. Teachers may elect to use student-led conferences. The February conferences shall be initiated for students selected by the teacher as being most likely to benefit from an additional conference.
NSEA and the District bargaining teams agreed that (1) teacher knowledge about the student (needs, interests, and learning style) and (2) a relationship and partnership with the family and are both essential keys to each student’s success in our classes.
We agreed to replace the old system of conferences because those conferences were organized around different principles: The teacher was the “expert” informing the parent about their child by providing them with data. Information about the child from the parents was not the central purpose of the old conferences. It often did not result in a partnership, and in many cases teachers felt that they had to spend a great deal of time preparing a defendable data “case” to present to the parents, who might dispute any “negative” information about the student.
Thus, conferences take place early in the school year, and they are not about sharing data. They have been uncoupled from the report cards so that the sharing of data is not the central focus. However, to the extent that you have data (and in most cases, elementary teachers will have student work, IRRs, and a math benchmark score), you can use them if you wish. There is no need or requirement to prepare a presentation on data, as it is not the purpose of the conference. Use any data you have as you wish. Having it available so you can discuss it would be prudent.
The purpose of the October conference is to build the relationship, a partnership with the parent to help the student succeed and reach their maximum potential for the school year.
As for “goal-setting,” this is one way to create such a partnership, and it is one option for you to use if you wish. It is not an expectation. Examples? You know what the learning goals are for the year. You might pick one, and make it a goal. It might be “to learn the multiplication table.” If the parent is concerned that the student dislikes school, it might be a goal around liking school more. If the student is having difficulty making friends, perhaps a goal around building friendships. If the student comes unprepared for class, perhaps a goal around limiting TV or computers, and doing homework would be useful. You might think in terms of a joint goal, to create the partnership to help the student.
There is no expectation by the administration or anyone that the goals be written on a form and signed. There is no expectation that the goals be detailed, data-linked, or anything else. There is no expectation for goal setting at all. We suggest asking the parent (or student) how they feel the school year is going so far, and let the conversation develop. You don’t need to come to the conference with a pre-determined goal or goals. Your purpose is to learn about the student, and build a relationship with the parent that will help the student succeed. If the conversation results in a joint goal or two, that will help build this relationship.
If the information in this email conflicts with information that your school administrator has provided you, please let us know.