by James Campbell for The Baltimore Sun
When David Andrews was asked to testify in Annapolis earlier this year, the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education told assembled legislators that providing quality early learning opportunities to low-income children is critically important and playing catch up is a losing game.
For poor children, catching up is indeed a losing proposition. Stubbornly high poverty rates and increasing income inequality have turned upside-down the long-held belief of education being a pathway to the middle class.
The truth is, as evidenced in at least two national studies published this year, if you’re born poor, chances are you will stay poor. In its report to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Commission on Equity and Excellence said, “10 million students in American’s poorest communities are having their lives unjustly and irredeemably blighted by a system that consigns them to lowest performing teachers, the most run-down facilities, and academic expectations and opportunities considerably lower than what we expect of other students.”
CHICAGO–Mesha Exum wonders how her life would have turned out without a stroke of good luck 11 years ago.
She was 16 with an infant son then, and she thought she would have to drop out of high school after finding baby Adonis wet, screaming and unattended at the end of his first day of day care. But a few months later, thanks to a referral from a childbirth support program she’d participated in, Exum landed a coveted spot for her son at Educare, an extended-day, year-round preschool that accepts children as young as six weeks and keeps them until kindergarten.
In retrospect, it was like winning the early childhood education lottery.
As President Obama pushes for a major national investment in the littlest learners, a glimpse into the power of preschool sits less than a five-minute drive from his Hyde Park home.
Nationwide, 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year. All too often, no one notices or even cares if these kids don’t show up.
Our research at Johns Hopkins University shows that chronic absence is a strong predictor of who will eventually drop out of school. And the problem starts early. One study estimated that one in 10 of the nation’s kindergarten and first-grade students were chronically absent.
These early absences can leave children lagging in basic reading and math skills and can establish an entrenched pattern of chronic absenteeism as students move into middle and high school. Chronically absent students also are more likely to wind up in the juvenile-justice system.
The good news is that mayors, school districts and communities have a relatively low-cost way to raise academic achievement, increase graduation rates, reduce juvenile-justice costs and build better pathways out of poverty – that is, to work together to get their students to attend school every day.
Schools that have succeeded in increasing attendance engage their communities and school leaders. For example, a successful three-year campaign in New York City, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, engaged the village of schools, city agencies, public-private partnerships and community partners. The Seattle Diplomas Now program uses weekly early-warning indicator meetings to design whole-school prevention efforts and target chronically absent students with tailored support from teachers, City Year AmeriCorps members and a wide range of social services organized by Communities In Schools.
President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have talked the talked about the importance of teachers, but when it comes to providing kids with equitable access to great teachers, they haven’t exactly walked the walk. Here is a post on the issue by Tara Kini, senior staff attorney at Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy. She is also a member of the Coalition for Teaching Quality, a group of about 90 civil rights, disability, parent, student, community and education organizations dedicated to ensuring that truly highly qualified teachers are in all classrooms.
Scores in math, reading and science posted by 15-year-olds in the United States were flat while their counterparts elsewhere — particularly in Shanghai, Singapore and other Asian provinces or countries — soared ahead, according to results of a well-regarded international exam released Tuesday.
While U.S. teenagers scored slightly above average in reading, their scores were average in science and below average in math, compared to 64 other countries and economies that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which was administered last fall. That pattern has not changed much since PISA was first administered in 2000.
The transfer of top elementary teachers to low-achieving schools can help boost students’ performance, but there’s a catch: getting them to agree to move.
A new study , seven years in the making, finds that elementary teachers identified as effective who transferred to low-achieving schools under a bonus-pay program helped their new students learn more, on average, than teachers in a control group did. They also stayed in the schools at least as long as other new hires.
From the Washington Post:
A program called Success for All, born in Baltimore 26 years ago to improve elementary schools, has set a record for most glowing reports from tough researchers.
But the latest study showing how well it works also hints at why it has not become more popular: It uses ability grouping and scripted lessons, both disliked by many teachers For more information, click here
Mentors, wake-up calls to students, incentives and weekly “student success” meetings led by principals helped New York City significantly cut chronic absenteeism in schools, according to a new report by the Everyone Graduates Center at The Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
The report, “Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism,” examines the impact of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s task force on truancy, chronic absenteeism and school engagement, a program that spanned 2010 to 2013 and reached more than 60,000 student. Click here for report.
So the U.S. Department of Education released summary data last week on the School Improvement Grant or SIG program. In a nutshell, the data showed that after $3 billion in stimulus funding, plus more than $1 billion in regular congressional appropriations, roughly two-thirds of SIG schools that were in the program for two years showed some improvement. But another third of SIG schools stagnated—or even slid backward.
There are big differences of opinion over whether that constitutes “incremental progress” (U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s view) or whether that’s a total disaster for the already controversial, much maligned SIG program.
But almost everyone agrees that the data left out a lot of things that could prove pivotal when trying to make claims about the efficacy of the program:
A public school teacher in Delaware wrote the following moving piece but asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation. It explains what is happening to many teachers who are being given scripted lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards by their principals and district superintendents. Note that this teacher is not opposed to standards. It’s an important point, as critics of the Common Core’s implementation in many school districts have been accused of being opposed to standards and wanting to keep the “status quo.”