EPISD school switches to student-led, parent-teacher conferences

Burges High changes approach to parent teacher conferences

EL PASO, Texas - Schools in El Paso Independent School District are getting ready for parent-teacher conferences, but some schools are taking a new approach to the meetings. 

Burges High School is now including students in the conferences, and lessening the role of the teachers. 

An ABC-7 viewer named Jen emailed saying that she was displeased with the new format, and that she was under the impression teachers would not be communicating with her about her child's success.  

Principal Randall Woods said the reasoning behind the change is to get students more engaged, and that teachers will be with parents and students every step of the way. 

"Let's get the kids more involved, let's get them presenting, let's get them talking to parents and their peers about where they stand in the class," said Woods. 
"We want them to be able to clearly articulate what's going on in class."

Joseph Manzano, a junior at Burges High School, said he's doing well in school and liked being able to communicate his performance in his own way. 

"They gave us a paper saying that you say your grade in the class, what you're doing good in, what you're doing bad in and how you can improve," said Manzano. 
"I would do it again, it felt like I was in control." 

The goal is for students to talk about their progress with parents to hold them more accountable for their success. 

Manzano's uncle, Richard Andrews, said he liked being able to hear from his nephew and his teachers. 

"I just wanted to at least speak with the teachers he's having issues with as far as his grades not being at par just to see if it's something that he's missing, or something that we're needing to do to make sure that we can go ahead and average them out to be a little bit better than what they are," said Andrews.

He went a step further and made sure his nephew was being set up for success beyond the classroom. 

"I went ahead and talked to his guidance counselor," said Andrews."He only has a couple more years left to see where we need to go ahead and guide him to be on a better track if he is wanting to go to college." 

Schools in the Socorro and Ysleta independent school districts have implemented student-led conferences as well. 

SISD spokesman Daniel Escobar said a number of schools in the district regularly hold them as a way to engagement both parents and students. 

"It allows the student to take ownership of what they're doing, and of course teacher is there," said Escobar. 
"Teachers have students verbalize success, challenges and goals." 

An EPISD student handbook from 2015-2016 laid out how and when parents can expect and update on their student's success. 

According to the guidelines, every nine-week grading period a progress report is handed out to students, and if their performance is below a 70 on the grading scale. 

If a student doesn't improve their grade, the handbooks states "The parent will be requested to schedule a conference with the teacher."


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