Closing the achievement gap

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JIM CURRAN
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Closing the achievement gap

Post by JIM CURRAN » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:28 am

According to a report in this mornings Times ,”Class and Classrooms”, half of all the children who qualify for free school meals are in a quarter of British schools. Barnardo’s have proposed a system of “banding” which means that every school will have to take an equal number of these children. The Times dismisses this suggestion on the grounds that, “Quite apart from the fact that the benefits of a social mix are far less great for poorer children than its advocates suggest, this is too bureaucratic an approach.”

The research does not support this comment. The benefits for disadvantaged children who attend “middle- class” schools is huge and not just confined to academic achievement. Poorer children make an network of acquaintances and these acquaintances provide valuable contacts in the world of work after school.

“More recent data from
the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress suggests:
Low-income students attending more affluent schools scored almost two years ahead of
low-income students in high-poverty schools. Indeed, low-income students given a
chance to attend more affluent schools performed more than half a year better, on
average, than middle-income students who attend high-poverty schools (Kahlenberg,
2009a, p. 1).
Summarizing these results suggests that high-poverty schools produce worse outcomes for both
low and middle-income students. Moreover, when low-income students attend middle-income
schools their performance, relative to their low-income peers in high-poverty schools, improves
dramatically. More than forty years of research has resulted in the same conclusion that the
overall socioeconomic status of a school affects the achievement of all its students."

kenm
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by kenm » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:38 pm

I don't know whether it is possible to do research to demonstrate the desirability of the sort of mix of pupils that your post describes. It would have to determine some sort of weighted (see below) total of the added value for all pupils going through the school systems to be compared, which seems to me to be very difficult. However, the partial assessments that you report are clearly not it, and any action taken on their sole basis to implement a more "egalitarian" system would be at high risk of causing unanticipated and undesirable consequences, whether or not the anticipated ones were achieved.

Weighting of added values is needed to take account of the greater effect that the most able pupils are likely to have on the future of the country.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

JAC
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JAC » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:39 am

Banding used to exist, I am sure, many years ago in the early days of secondary comprehensive schools. I can't remember how many bands there were but it was to ensure a satisfatory ability mix. (I did not know that banding had ceased.) But wouldn't you think that there would be some data that could now be looked at to see what effects banding had on achievement before going down the same road again. Of course there have been so many other changes in schools in the last 20 + years that it may be nigh on impossible to tease out the effects of this particular variable.

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JIM CURRAN » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:52 am

Research by the Sutton Trust shows that the top 200 academically performing comprehensive schools in England admit on average 6 percent of the children on the free schools meals register . Grammar schools in Northern Ireland admit between 3 and 6 percent of free school meals pupils.
Research by Barnardos shows that a half of all the children on free school meals are being educated in a quarter of our schools. There is a huge problem of social segregation here. We know from the research of James Coleman ( 1966 ) that high density poverty defeats good educational programmes. Just ask any teacher who has had the experience of teaching in one of these high poverty schools.

This is not to say that you won’t find good high poverty schools. They do exist but they are few and far between and depend on a mix of unique variables. Research by Professor Richard Kalenberg of the Century Foundation shows that a middle class school is 24 times more likely to be in the top quarter of schools than a school that serves a high poverty population.

There is more and more research available now to show that social segregation in schools can and does have a very positive effect on all the students.

Kenm and Jac you may be interested in this short article by Richard Kalenberg of the Century Foundation, “ Economic School Integration an Update”

http://www.tcf.org/Publications/Educati ... ration.pdf

chew8
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by chew8 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:10 am

While all this may be true, Jim, is tackling it really part of the RRF's mission?

I see the RRF's mission as being to close the achievement gap as far as possible by ensuring that all children get the best possible literacy teaching - particularly the sort of first-time teaching that will virtually eliminate the need for later intervention.

Jenny C.

kenm
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by kenm » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:52 am

JIM CURRAN wrote:Kenm and Jac you may be interested in this short article by Richard Kalenberg of the Century Foundation, “ Economic School Integration an Update”

http://www.tcf.org/Publications/Educati ... ration.pdf
Yes, Kalenberg reports an attempt to consider negative impacts of social integration as well as positive ones, which is a step in the right direction, but not a very large one.
For a given low income student, this meant the difference between attending a school with a 45% middle class student body and one with 85% middle class classmates on average meant “a 20 to 32 percentage point improvement in that low-income pupil’s test scores.” Rusk found that middle class children saw a decline in test scores as the percentage of low income classmates increased, but that the rate of decline “was less than half the rate of improvement for low income pupils.”
A difficult ethical problem to balance these.
Moreover, using census data, he found that this decline in majority middle class schools may very well have been a result not of classmate influences but of the fact that “middle class” students in economically mixed schools were not as well off as “middle class” students in affluent schools.
Science starts when measurement starts, so this is a bit woolly. Also, it raises the question (not answered, AFAICS) of what happens to the "middle class" students displaced by low-income ones. Do some of them transfer to private schools? and what effect does that have overall?.

I suppose the principal source of my unease concerning studies of this sort is that there is no consideration of the medium- and long-term social effects of the changes examined and proposed. I grant that there is benefit to society in having a well-educated electorate, but it also needs its leaders to be well-educated. Moreover, the state of the world is such that it needs massive innovation to cope with the problems that over-population and industrialisation have caused and will exacerbate in the future. Fairness implies equalisation of opportunity, at the least, but obtaining this by reducing the educational opportunities of the most able students threatens the survival of civilisation.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:12 am

School lotteries fail to help poorer pupils

Middle-class families still dominate best schools despite attempts to close class gap


"Currently a pupil eligible for free school meals is 30% more likely to attend a school with exam results – well below the national average than an otherwise identical child from a better-off family."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... -help-poor

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:49 am

Social class affects white pupils' exam results more than those of ethnic minorities – study

Poverty affects grades less among non-white children with social divide noticeable from primary school




"Professor Steve Strand, who will present the findings to the British Educational Research Association's conference today, said the effects of poverty are "much less pronounced for most minority ethnic groups".

"Those from low socio-economic backgrounds seem to be much more resilient to the impact of disadvantage than their white British peers," he said.

However, he added that well-off white children may do particularly well because their parents might be "a bit more savvy about ensuring that they go to schools with similar pupils".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... ent-school

kenm
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by kenm » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:31 am

JIM CURRAN wrote:School lotteries fail to help poorer pupils

Middle-class families still dominate best schools despite attempts to close class gap
Your first post in this thread suggests that these schools achieve their better results in part because of the presence of the middle class pupils.
"Currently a pupil eligible for free school meals is 30% more likely to attend a school with exam results – well below the national average than an otherwise identical child from a better-off family."
What on earth does the phrase in (my) italics mean.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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Susan Godsland
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:31 pm

An American perspective:

Opinion: Finally, some straight talk on the achievement gap
by Michael J. Petrilli

Let's start rooting for all groups of students to do better

http://www.edexcellence.net/gadfly/inde ... on=N#a6384

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:12 pm

A real education

It's been three years of confusion and distress, but Andrew Penman has finally found a secondary school for his son. Why is it so hard, he asks

Even Dave Hill, Merton's head of education, was understanding. He said he hoped improving performances by their comprehensives would encourage future parents to stay in the borough, but in the meantime didn't blame anyone for avoiding the worst schools.

"If you live in any area and you've got a school that's not scoring around 60% I don't know if I'd really want to send my kid to that school," he said. "I think people have a right to choose something else. We've had schools down in Mitcham scoring 18%, 15% – it's just not acceptable. Why would you want your bright kid with all your family support to go to a school where clearly that school's not going to be able to improve their chances? You'd be mad to.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... -education

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:08 pm

It’s not so much the achievement gap that worries me, it’s the fact that so few bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds ever reach their true potential. I agree with Jenny that one vital essential is that these children and all children learn to decode to a level of automaticity in the first few years at school.
Recently Michael Gove made use of research which showed that bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds who were in the top quarter for their age at 22 months were overtaken at age 6 or 7 by more advantaged children who were in the bottom quarter at 22 months.

Lewis Terman carried out similar research in the United States in the 1920’s.
Terman selected a group of extremely bright and gifted children from the Elementary schools of California. All these children had IQ’s between 140 – 200. Terman tracked these children through into adulthood. He divided them into 3 groups based on their achievements. The A’s were the high achievers, the B group were doing “satisfactory” but the C group which comprised 150 of the 750 students were a big disappointment to Terman, many were either unemployed or working in menial jobs. The C group had obtained between them a grand total of 8 graduate degrees. Terman ran through every conceivable explanation . He looked at their physical and mental health, their masculinity – femininity scores, their hobbies and vocational interests. He compared the ages when they started walking and talking and their precise IQ scores in elementary and high school. In the end, only one thing mattered : family background. ( page 111 Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell )

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palisadesk
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by palisadesk » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:52 pm

The most interesting thing about Terman's study is that none of his "Termites" ended up becoming a star. The achievements and accomplishments of his pool of "geniuses" was no greater than that of a similar sample of white, mostly middle-class, non-high-IQ Californians. While the "Termites" had successful lives, on the whole, none were superstars, and the actual scholarly output and professional contributions of the scientists he listed were below average in quantity. There were no Nobel winners, discoverers of new treatments, inventors of new technology. Just bright white kids grown up.

It takes much more (and less) than IQ to make a "genius." Personal qualities of perseverance, curiosity, imagination, self-discipline, ability to defer gratification and much more, go into making those true geniuses. Richard Feynmann, the Nobel-prize-winning physicist, famously had an IQ of only 124. Watson or Crick (I forget which) also scored low, around 110, on an IQ test as a young person. The list is endless. Family factors are indeed important, but not easily controlled or even identified. Would Mozart have become a child prodigy if born to deaf parents, in a home without musical exposure? Would he have become a genius at something else? These questions are rhetorical, because they cannot be answered, but they show that home influences, genetics, and outside environment are all important factors.

As for children in low-income families achieving in accordance with their potential, a lot of that can be societal. Both the UK and the U.S. have a relatively high level of social class stratification, according to UNESCO data. Children from low-income families are relatively likely to remain at a similar social class level to the one in which they are raised.

But not all countries have this pattern. Canada does not. Not only are low-income children able to climb the social class ladder relatively easily, high-income children can go down the ladder. There is a lot of intergenerational flux in socio-economic terms. SES at birth is far from destiny. Low-income students are more likely to attend and complete university than "middle class" native born children. For whatever reason, social mobility is real and opportunity is available.

Public education is doubtless a factor, but so are other social supports for families. Locally, we have parenting centres for families of children located in neighbourhood schools, where moms (or dads) can learn how to encourage children's language, exploratory play, and motor skill development. Early Learning Centres all over the province offer programs for families; rec centres have Baby Swim and Toddler Gyms, community agencies support families with children with speech delays or disabilities. Mixed rent-geared-to-income housing has replaced the "council flats" model. Much needs to be done, but a commitment to quality family life and community support is there.

We are now introducing all-day Kindergarten for all children (2 years of K, starting the year the child turns 4), which will be a play-based program. No reading instruction until Grade 1, as now. It's starts this month and will be phased in to all schools by 2015. My school will be one of the pilot schools that have all-day K starting now. We shall see how it goes.

Levelling the playing field requires a multi-faceted approach. Supporting families and parents outside of school is necessary. So is abandoning the notion that SES is destiny. If it is, it is due to "local circumstances," because SES is not destiny everywhere. It is not here.

Susan S.

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:43 pm

Thanks Susan.

“In the United States and the United Kingdom at least 40 percent of the economic advantage high- income parents have over low -income parents is passed on to the next generation. The Nordic countries and Canada seem to be the most mobile societies , with less than 20 percent of an income advantage being passed on between parent and child. The experience in the United States and the United Kingdom also illustrates that the degree of generational income mobility is not immutable. Progressive educational policies have increased mobility across the generations in the United States during the post-war period , while changes to the schooling system in the United Kingdom dating back to the 1980’s have had the opposite effect.”
( page 9 Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe, M. Corak 2004 )

JAC
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Re: Closing the achievement gap

Post by JAC » Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:06 am

In Australia the intergenerational income mobility has not changed over the years.
( from Andrew Leigh. http://people.anu.edu.au/andrew.leigh/p ... tralia.pdf)

What has made Canada so different?

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