Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to Close The Achievement Gap?

Continued from here
"Eliminating the gap will require at least 3 things:

  1. Change status quo public education work, retention, compensation, assignment, etc rules so they meet the needs of the kids. Not the wants of the Teachers.
  2. Change policies so incapable and/or negligent parents do not have more children than they can personally afford. Enable society to be able to enforce this if needed.
  3. Change policies so that US has a stronger Parenting and Early Childhood Education program for questionable / young Parents. " G2A

"John, in some sense you are correct that there is no silver bullet, because to repair a failing public school is going to require a combination of things to be done, successfully, over a number of years. On the other hand, we have close to that silver bullet in school choice.

As for "eliminating the gap" I think that is impossible, especially approached as you suggest. It is like attempting to turn the car by standing outside and pushing on the front wheels, rather than turning the steering wheel. Far easier to change those things we do control, like the public schools' funding and policies, then those things we do not, like social breakdown regardless of cause (and I will blame government for that, just not now).

We can and absolutely must REDUCE the gap, however. You have suggested that private schools do better because they have entrance requirements, and because they can expel difficult or troublesome students. So how is that different than having a school with rigorous testing followed by remedial effort like the RIF program? What about a school having a rigorous curriculum and high expectations, with talented teachers in every room, paid on the basis of student improvement? Why shouldn't a school have a strong and effective discipline policy, including, as many districts now do, a separate building (ours has bars on the windows) for those who need the extra discipline, short of the last-resort of expulsion? There are public schools everywhere doing one or more of these things to a greater or lesser degree. It would take a concerted effort and several years to turn that train around, but we never do. " Jerry

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

"- Change status quo public education work, retention, compensation, assignment, etc rules so they meet the needs of the kids. Not the wants of the Teachers."

Don't high performing schools have the same rules as low performing schools?

- Change policies so incapable and/or negligent parents do not have more children than they can personally afford. Enable society to be able to enforce this if needed.

How can not having a child result in that child being taught better or learning more? Do we really think the decision to have a child is, or should be, based on education statistics?

- Change policies so that US has a stronger Parenting and Early Childhood Education program for questionable / young Parents. " G2A

I think we should teach better too.

--Hiram

John said...

I number the ideas to save comment space..

1. Yes they often do. That is why the experienced expensive Teachers are free to migrate to them. Also, the high performing schools typically have kids who have Parents that compensate for the shortcomings of any of the Teachers in the school, or they lobby to remove the Teacher or get their child out of their class.

2. Yes. Incapable or irresponsible own 70% of the problem.

Anonymous said...

That is why the experienced expensive Teachers are free to migrate to them.

Why teachers move from school to school is something that's talked about, but not really known. There was an article in the Pioneer Press the other day that said that said that the tougher schools have younger teachers. My guess is that if they are true, it's because those jobs are seen as less desirable and therefore easier to get for entry level teachers. But I don't really know. My belief is that we can manipulate the system in varieties of ways, incentives and that sort of thing, but the fact is, those stratagies won't ultimately improve matters, because they address issues that aren't the problem. But hey, I don't know.

As for question 2, Schools take kids as they find them. Population policies are not their concern. Your superintendent of schools has no business at all telling you whether you should have kids or not.

--Hiram

John said...

1. The Union backed policy of paying based on degrees/years, and not based on position difficulty/performance, combined with their giving tenured Teachers the first shot at new district positions pretty much dooms the students in challenging schools.

Now if the district could keep the money with kids and let class size float, this problem might disappear. The challenged school would have more money and lower cost employees, so they could have really low class sizes. Whereas the easier school would have less money, higher cost employees, so they would have really large class sizes. Unfortunately class size targets are typically district wide.

2. I never said I limited my ideas to just those that occur in the schools.

Anonymous said...

Union or not, teachers will always want to teach at better schools.

John said...

That is way too simplistic. It implies that Teachers are not normal humans.

There are many factors that influence where one chooses to work.

Laurie said...

at my school about half the staff has put in several years teaching at one of the worst schools in the state. I think most could find jobs less demanding jobs elsewhere for higher pay. I personally enjoy the challenge (even though it is currently wearing me out)

John said...

My thought is that if the education system was straightened out so that jobs at the more challenging schools paid the highest, and even more to Teachers who really made a difference with the kids there... Many incredible Teachers who want to make a big difference in the lives of unlucky students and earn a good living would be lined up out the door...

jerrye92002 said...

"Incapable or irresponsible own 70% of the problem."

That is a completely unscientific and circular argument. You are arguing that, since some demographics of kids have disproportionately bad academic outcomes, that it is the demographic itself responsible, and that people within that demographic are "incapable or irresponsible."

Let me give you one equally or more likely: Schools in which the majority of kids are failing to achieve at grade level are incapable or irresponsible. I think that is certainly the more reasonable and direct statement of the problem, and more amenable to solution. Notice I don't blame all teachers for this failure, and not even most. It is the system that needs changing, starting with the notion that all teachers are equally dedicated and capable and should be paid exactly the same.

John said...

You know my view...

Parents are responsible for having or not having children. If they choose to have children they are responsible for raising their kids well, not the State.

Of course if you want to give the State the responsibility for raising the children instead of the Parents, then your argument makes sense.

The reality is that poor people are poor for many reasons: divorce, addictions, low level of education, personal attitudes/beliefs, bad choices, even bad luck/health, etc. All of these can also create irreversible harm to their children during the first 5 to 10 years of the child's life.

SA Poverty and Brain Development
PBS Brain Development

Now there are responsible and capable poor people who are parents, who can compensate for the stress related impact, however unfortunately I think they are in the minority. Most Parents tend to raise their children based on how they themselves were raised. "I mean it worked for me..." Look at our poster boy for not falling far from the tree, Adrian Peterson...

jerrye92002 said...

But once again you want to argue that demography is destiny, and that the schools can do absolutely nothing to educate these "unlucky kids." If you really meant that, we would simply close all the public schools in poor neighborhoods and simply give the parents a check for the $250,000 we would otherwise spend NOT educating these kids. Or give them a check for $125,000 (the state average) and give the rest back to the taxpayers.

John said...

No I think we need to train the trainer. Lots of required parent education and early childhood education for families that are trapped in generational poverty.

We as a community need to say if you are not willing and able to be an educated and responsible parent, society will find someone else to raise the child(ren). Being a Parent and raising children is a privilege and not a right.

Where as you keep wanting to believe that these single parent poor households are full of highly responsible hard working disciplined educated people. When the reality is that many of them are not, and that is why they are poor single parent households...

jerrye92002 said...

" Being a Parent and raising children is a privilege and not a right." Ah, the start of our great new eugenics program! We are already aborting a majority of black children in this country, we should be well on our way!

Let's try a little thought experiment. Let me go into a poor black neighborhood, because Black Lives Matter. I am now going to wave my magic wand and raise every family there out of poverty. (Sorry, there isn't anything I can do about them being black.) Now, how much better have the schools suddenly become? Are the results of this magic as good as the results obtained in turnaround schools or voucher schools or reconstituted schools?

John said...

Please note that the solution I support is based in a neighborhood with mostly poor Black families. How again did you make a leap to race?

Since poverty in and of itself is not the problem, waving the lottery wand will do little good for the children. (ie or welfare would have been more of a success) The question is how do we help questionable Parents to become excellent Parents? And remove children from Parents who will not participate?

By the way, if with your wand we took the whole student body and their family's from the Wayzata school district and placed them in the Minneapolis school buildings with the Minneapolis staff... I am certain their test results would remain high, the schools would be cleaner, the libraries would be fuller and the technology would be modernized.

That is the power of engaged capable Parents, wealth, volunteers, etc.

John said...

By the way, you keep saying the following with NO proof or concrete examples... Therefore it is only an opinion / Conservative talking point to us other commenters.

"as good as the results obtained in turnaround schools or voucher schools or reconstituted schools"

jerrye92002 said...

OK, see: http://hechingerreport.org/are-turnaround-districts-the-answer-for-americas-worst-schools/ The money quote: “We see the impact of poverty on kids and families there every single day, and there’s no question this makes living and learning more difficult,” wrote Barbic. But, he added, “The ‘poverty trumps education’ argument sells our educators, and more importantly, our kids way too short.”

And http://www.edchoice.org/new-estimates-of-statewide-school-vouchers-competitive-effects-on-public-schools/
"... 21 studies on the competitive effects of school vouchers specifically. Twenty of those studies found neutral to positive results and one found exclusively null results, but none found negative effects on public schools."

So let's take your "magic" example. Of course students who are bound to succeed regardless will succeed regardless. They are "lucky kids" by your definition. The question has always been about the "gap" and its causes. We have long experience of the reverse, of taking kids out of the inner city schools and putting them in better settings, and they succeed better-- not as well as the "natives," but better. So why not make the inner city schools perform as well? It obviously can be done.


John said...

Thank you. I will read them tomorrow.
HR Turn Around Schools

EC Vouchers

John said...

"So why not make the inner city schools perform as well?"

Based on some research I did several years ago, I think there is a tipping point at around 30%.

Assuming 1000 kids in a school for simple math:

10% poverty: There are 900 good students and their Parents to volunteer, provide good peer pressure to 100 at risk students who may otherwise cause issues. (or 3 out of class of 30)

30% poverty: There are 700 good students and their Parents to volunteer, provide good peer pressure to 300 at risk students who may otherwise cause issues. (or 9 out of class of 30)

50% poverty: There are 500 good students and their Parents to volunteer, provide good peer pressure to 500 at risk students who may otherwise cause issues. (or 15 out of class of 30)

As I often say there are some great, capable and responsible Parents who are poor, and that is the good side of vouchers, magnets, open enrollment, Charters, etc. Unfortunately there are more in the poverty group who are irresponsible or incapable Parents, and they simply overwhelm the life raft.

If impoverished people did not come with a whole bunch of related issues, I am sure more expensive suburbs would be happy to build more low income housing. Unfortunately various social and behavioral issues seem to come along for the ride.

John said...

By the way, at 10% with only 3 students who may be at a significantly different preparedness level from the class. It is easier for the Teacher and their support systems to help those 3 children catch up.

At 50%, with 15 students struggling and little Parental support. The task is much more difficult.

jerrye92002 said...

Now it is you just making stuff up. I will certainly agree that you have qualitatively defined the problem correctly, but treating any group of students and/or parents in this quantitative way is not only a disservice to the real people involved and ignorant of the many many factors that make such blanket assessments unhelpful, but it continues to block any reasonable opportunity for a solution.

I have seen firsthand what happens when kids are plucked out of failing schools and placed into more successful ones. The longer they have been exposed to the failing methods (and yes, environment) of the poor school, the harder it is for them to succeed in the new environment.

"Unfortunately there are more in the poverty group who are irresponsible or incapable Parents, and they simply overwhelm the life raft."

I am sorry, but I simply refuse to believe that of my fellow human beings. I believe that most people in poverty would choose something better for their children IF GIVEN THE CHOICE. For 90% of them, the public school system monopoly offers no such choice. I believe that this hopelessness finds its way to the children, reflects back on the teachers, and the whole thing spirals downward, rather than upward as it ought. Education was supposed to be the way out of poverty, of breaking the generational cycle, but instead we find it only being reinforced, not by its victims, but by its perpetrators in government.

Just once I would like to see a public school held responsible directly for improving academic results, given a free hand and the resources to make it happen, rather than having a dozen know-nothing politicians pushing on irrelevant strings of supposed causation.

John said...

So you are unwilling to believe that many of the low income single Parent households are led by low academic irresponsible people who make poor Parents. That does seem irrational since a smart responsible Parents would likely be married and have a solid job.

Now I am quite certain that many Parents would jump at something better for their kids if it did not require more from themselves. (ie effort, money, change, learning, etc) However the reality is that many of the best optional schools do require more from the Parent(s). (ie signed performance contracts) And this is something that many of poor parent are unable or unwilling to give.

"I am sorry, but I simply refuse to believe that of my fellow human beings."

Now you are willing to easily believe that the adults in the Mpls public schools system are 100% responsible for failing the unlucky kids, yet you are unwilling to believe that the Parent(s) are 70% responsible for failing their unlucky kids. What is up with this double standard?

I'll even go 60% Parents and 40% School...

jerrye92002 said...

"That does seem irrational since a smart responsible Parents would likely be married and have a solid job."

I see. So a woman whose husband is killed in action and cannot find a job compatible with caring for her two-year-old twins is irresponsible and the kids do not deserve the best education that we can offer them because of this? They must be trapped forever in schools that have no incentive to do better?

Now I am quite certain that many Parents would jump at something better for their kids if it did not require more from themselves."

Of course they would, wouldn't you? Why don't we offer it to them before declaring they are irresponsible?

"And this is something that many of poor parent are unable or unwilling to give."

And there you go making assumptions again. How do you KNOW that "many" cannot if you never give them the opportunity? Don't tell me about the choices offered to the few. Explain to me why we haven't offered better choices, including improvements to the local public schools, to everybody?

"I'll even go 60% Parents and 40% School..."

I'll buy that, for now. So what are we going to do to fix the 40% that we do control, through government funding, regulation and operation, and quit fixating on the 60% of the problem that we do not control?

John said...

Killed in Action... Really... I bet that accounts for a substantial percentage of the single parent homes in America... NOT.

In my district our school demographics vary widely. We have elementary schools in East Plymouth (20% poverty) and schools in Robbinsdale/Brooklyn Park (90+% poverty) The irony is that we have 2 excellent magnet schools with district wide free busing who have lower poverty rates than even any other school. The district even makes efforts to market them to the poorer households, yet they seem unable or unwilling to just sign up for the lotteries...

John said...

I agree that we should fix the public school system. (ie Stop tenure, steps, lanes, etc Start pay based on position challenge, effectiveness, etc. Start job security based on effectiveness.)

At the same time we need to help unlucky kids. by helping their parents learn, improve and execute. Parenting is hard even for mature financially secure educated adults with 2 parents in the house, imagine being a young poor uneducated single parent... Especially some immature girl who thinks kids are better than a puppy for securing love and companionship from a man or that cute baby.

And if they can't or won't, society should do something. Not just ignore the poor parenting and blame the schools.

jerrye92002 said...

Again, I like "all of the above," but like the debate on immigration, you have to start by attacking the government failures that we all know are the biggest political hurdles. I like your list of school reforms (good but insufficient), and I would like to "believe three impossible things before breakfast." Get them done (like building the border fence) and only then can we look at the more "comprehensive" solution.