Parents 'smarter' than middle schoolers

By Curt Yeomans


The students at M.D. Roberts Middle School wanted to prove on Tuesday they were smarter than their parents, but in the competition, they didn't get much of a chance.

The event was a school-sponsored game show entitled "Are You Smarter Than Your Middle Schooler." The game was held as part of the school's Curriculum Night.

"We wanted to have a little bit of fun with the children and the parents while also helping them understand what to expect on the CRCTs [Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests] in the spring," said Charmine Johnson, the school's principal. "The questions we used in this competition were very similar to questions on the CRCTs."

Johnson and Monica Kelly, the school's math coach, came up with the game as a way to simulate the kind of experience a child goes through when taking state-mandated tests. The examinations are designed to measure how much a student has learned in class.

"This gives them [the parents] an idea of how challenging the questions are," Johnson said. "It really makes you have to think. You have to try and remember what you learned years ago, when you were in school."

The school held its Curriculum Night this month, rather than the spring, so parents would know what their children have to learn for the CRCTs. Curriculum night was in the spring last year, but administrators felt an earlier date would give parents more time to become familiar with the topics. The theory is parents can now offer more help to their students in preparation for the CRCTs.

Students probably left the session wondering how smart they are, because parents kept getting their questions correct during the game, and the students rarely got an opportunity to display their knowledge of math, science, social studies and language arts as a result.

Leon Burroughs, the father of a M.D. Roberts eighth-grader, was a member of the parent team that missed three questions out of 12. It was Burroughs' responsibility to notify Scharbrenia Lockhart, the school's assistant principal, and the game's proctor, of his team's answers to each question.

"It was an eye-opener, because it put me in the hot seat," Burroughs said. "This let me know how my baby girl feels. It motivates me to get her to study harder."

One of the few opportunities the students had to answer a question came when the parents missed one in the sixth-grade social studies category. The question asked what was used to measure distance on a map. The parents were given four choices. The students got to write down their own answers on individual white boards as the parents considered the choices as a group.

The parents choose "field."

The correct answer was "scale."

Brandon Jackson, 13, an M.D. Roberts seventh-grader, then gave the correct answer, and earned a point for the students.

"It feels good to beat the parents [on that question] because my mom and dad always think they are smarter than me," Jackson said. "This gave me an opportunity to show I really am paying attention in class."