There are many specific ways that a district can gain the support of parents and guardians, and keep them informed. Here are a few suggestions.
Form a Community Advisory Group
The group should be composed of knowledgeable and strong advocates for the program. The committee should consist of parents and guardians, teachers, university people (if there is a university in the area), business people (particularly those who appreciate the need for critical thinking) and administrators. This group will play a crucial role in the early stages of implementation and less of a role later as the success of CMP speaks for itself.
Present Information to the Community
As implementation matures, a district might create a pamphlet for parents and guardians, including the results of district evaluation studies that show how well CMP students did on state tests.
Conduct Parent Workshops
These can be helpful at the beginning of the school year, and at different stages of the implementation during the year. Topics to be discussed might include: overarching goals, evidence of effectiveness of CMP, specific mathematical information, the instructional model, mathematical expectations for students by the end of the year and the end of the program, the use of calculators, and transitioning to high school. An effective strategy for conducting these workshops is to engage parents and guardians in a Problem from one of the student Units, so they can experience firsthand how understanding and skill are developed in CMP. These workshops might be tailored to fit specific concerns such as use of calculators and other technology, and how these affect learning or the particular mathematical goals of a Unit that is about to start.
Send an Introductory Letter
An introductory letter complements the Parent Workshops outlined above. A sample letter is included in the Parent Guide for CMP.
Send a Parent/Guardian Letter
As students begin a new Unit, the teacher can send a letter to parents and guardians stating the goals of the Unit and suggesting questions that parents and guardians can ask their children. The Parent Guide for CMP contains a sample letter for each Unit.
Send Home Parent/Guardian Handbooks
A district can create and send home handbooks addressing the mathematics in Units and suggesting ways that parents and guardians can help their children.
Send Home Newsletters
A newsletter is an excellent way to highlight the mathematics students are studying. A newsletter might include student work, stories about student insights, summaries of rich class discussions, or other evidence of achievement. If your district already has a community newsletter, then it may be possible to include news from the mathematics classroom in the newsletter.
CMP provides a parent Web site offering both background information and specific mathematical help to parents seeking to assist their students with homework. See Families Math in the Unit.
Conduct a tutoring lab after school to reassure parents that additional help is available to students for homework. In one CMP district, a mathematics lab is held two days a week after school. Students sign up with their mathematics teacher to attend and must bring with them work to do, such as homework, redoing a past assignment, organizing their notebooks, working on vocabulary lists or projects, or studying for a test or quiz. Copies of Units, teacher support, and other materials and tools typically found in the classroom are available in the lab.
Printed Teacher's Guides
Make copies of the printed Teacher's Guides, with answers removed and make them available in the school library for students to check out.