Primary Educators League

Assisting parents in the eternal vigil of protecting the freedom and holiness of their families.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Out of Harms Way" Assessment: Grades 5-8

The "safe environments" programs have kicked off in full force during the month of March as the parish schools need to complete the four lessons before the school year ends. This e-mail is concerning the “Out of Harms Way” program for our 5th – 8th graders.

We have confirmed that the 5th – 8th graders must take this assessment (click here to launch the PDF of the assessment). (Remember that a 5th grader is usually 10 years old). It will be given prior to the first lesson as well as after the fourth lesson. The same assessment is given to all grades (5-8). They will then be able to track the improvement based upon how each child answers the pre/post assessment.

All across the Twin Cities, parents received, or are soon likely to receive, a parents pack of information concerning the upcoming “safe environment” program for their 5th-8th graders. From what we've seen, there's very little information about the specific lessons that will be taught in the classroom for the “Out of Harms Way" program. We have not seen or heard that any parish mailed out copies of the assessment for the parents to review prior to their child being exposed to it. If your parish is hosting a curriculum night for the “safe environments” programs, we highly encourage you to attend and participate. If you can’t make it, schedule an appointment with the school/parish administration to review the materials.

Many who are on our e-mail list probably don't have their children at one of the parishes using this material. However, roughly 60-70% of the parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are using the "Out of Harms Way" program and their children will need to take this pre/post assessment. We encourage you to pass this on to people at other parishes.

Given that some parishes have started their “safe environments” programs, your child may have already been exposed to the “Out of Harms Way” assessment by the time you receive this e-mail. If you have an issue with this assessment, we would encourage you to call your school administration, school board members, pastor, and parish council members to discuss this matter.

It is unclear as to how this information might be reported. Having assessments are standard practice in education, but given the sensitive nature of this material, and the circumstances surrounding why the Church is pursuing this path, is this really the rightful position of the Church to step in and assess our children about these issues without the parents giving their blessing?

Here are some questions that you may want to have answered before your child takes the assessment:

1) Will parents receive copies of their child's pre/post assessment results after the completion of the program for each year?

2) Does the school/parish keep copies and a record of each child's assessment for each year?

3) If the school/parish keep copies or a record of each child's pre/post assessment, who has access to that information? What is the guaranty of confidentiality and privacy? (After all, this isn’t just another math test).

4) Do the results get sent back to the archdiocese and/or to the KidWISE Institute?

5) Is the school, parish, and/or archdiocese keeping a "safe environments" file on each student in the school for the duration of their attendance in that Catholic school?

The parishes and schools are diligently keeping track of each child who is in attendance for each lesson and which ones that are not in attendance. Additionally, they are keeping track of the reasons why your child is not attending...i.e. did he/she just happen to be sick that day, or did the parents opt him/her out. It seems like the Church doesn't pay nearly this kind of attention to those who receive the sacraments of First Confession, First Communion or Confirmation.

Please contact us if you run in to any challenges in discussing this information with your school and parish leadership. It is likely you will need to go beyond the level of your child's teacher and principal to make any headway. You may want to discuss this with your pastor and school board members to see if they agree as to whether or not they believe this assessment is appropriate for 5th – 8th graders in Catholic school.

Please consider joining our e-mail list at www.primaryeducators.org. We don't send out a lot of e-mails, but if you want to stay informed please join the list. The issue with the "safe environments" does not appear to be going away any time soon.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Science hunter said...

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007 11:45:00 AM  

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