Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap
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Video: An Education in Equality

Filmed over 13 years, this short film presents a coming-of-age story of an African-American boy who attends an elite Manhattan prep school.
Caroline Weber's insight:

I thought this was a great video, definitely worth watching. It follows Idris as he grew up in Brooklyn attending the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan. His parents are both very well educated and have high-earning jobs, and both place heavy emphasis on the importance of education and working hard to make a good living. They wanted to give their son the best life possible, and they thought part of doing so would be to enroll him in one of the best schools in the country. 

It's clear that Idris' family has a lot of money--both parents have highly respected jobs, they live in a beautiful home in Brooklyn, and they can afford to send their son to the Dalton School. From the time he started at the Dalton School, Idris was aware that being African American made him different in his school environment, simply because most of the other students were white. Other students asked him about his family income levels, which I thought was interesting--it proves that kids really do take those things into account when determing if someone is "different" or not. Another thing Idris said he encountered was being teased by the other African American kids on his basketball team for "talking so white." This proves that there are clear stigmas and expectations when it comes to race and academic achievement. 

This video had some great commentary on race, but I think it also further underlined the assumption that you need money to be academically successful as a minority. I would be interested to know more about Idris' father's education--his father mentioned he grew up in poverty but attended Stanford. I think that story would provide another perspective entirely. 

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Straight Outta China: Learning English Through Slang Is In Demand

Straight Outta China: Learning English Through Slang Is In Demand | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
Some California institutions are helping people learn English as a second language by teaching hip-hop and slang terms.
Caroline Weber's insight:

I chose to include this article on this board because most often, students who are at the lower end of the achievement gap are in that position because their language skills are not on the same level as their classmates. Additionally, statistics show that minority or immigrant families are also more likely to have lower incomes. 

In my placement classroom, there are several students who do not speak English at home, and sometimes struggle to always speak English in the classroom. I can see their reading comprehension skills are significantly lower than their those of their peers, and while I'm not qualified to say whether or not this is because they don't understand English well enough or not, I thought this article was definitely applicable to some of the things I've seen. 

The article talks about how a teacher encorporates rap and hip-hop songs into her lessons so that non-native speakers lear colloquial expressions as well as proper English. This is an important part of adopting the culture of America, which may help students better in the classroom environment if they feel included. I think this is a good way for teachers to try introduce American culture without making students reject their own culture in any way. 

I also think relating to students on a slang/music/casual level is important in establishing connections with student. It shows that the teacher is not an alient/unrelatable figure--it levels the playing field a little bit, and I think this is a great technique that I will try to encorporate in my classroom. 

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New Jersey students among the best in nation, according to 2013 report card

New Jersey students among the best in nation, according to 2013 report card | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, called the Nation's Report Card, measures fourth and eighth graders mathematics and reading.
Caroline Weber's insight:

I don't think test scores are definitive proof of academic success, but it's good to see that the average test scores are increasing. 

However, the most interesting point of this article is that there are significant differences in test scores between white, black, and Hispanic students. I couldn't believe that the difference on average was 20 points--I would have expected (or hoped) for a lower number. 

To me, it is more important to work on closing the achievement gap than raising the average test scores. Does improvement in education really mean anything if it only affects a group of students? 

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Exclusive - Malala Yousafzai Extended Interview Pt. 1

Malala Yousafzai shares details of her run-in with the Taliban.
Caroline Weber's insight:

I think Malala could become a really important figure for students. Her story could be inspirational for a diverse classroom because her struggles are something we cannot relate to in America. I think hearing her interview might help all students realize the importance of education, and inspire them to take control of their educational future. 

A problem students who face adversity or hardship in getting a good education have is that they don't have role models to see how to succeed. Malala is the perfect example of going after an education that she wants even though it's not easy. Even though in America nobody is going to try to kill you if you pursue an education, students from low income families who find it hard to succeed due to lack of resources, or students who are held to different expectations because of their race, or students who come from families who didn't engage them in learning when they were young so they enter school behind--they can all look to Malala to see that education is something worth fighting for. 

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Dylan Garity - "Rigged Game" (NPS 2013)

Like Dylan on faceboook: http://www.facebook.com/dylangarity Dylan Garity, performing at the 2013 National Poetry Slam for Minneapolis's SlamMN! TEXT OF POEM...
Caroline Weber's insight:

This video was too good not to post. Though not directly related to socioeconomic status, english as second language students are more likely to be of lower economic status than their peers. ESOL is a form of specialized education that is a pressing issue in many school districts, especially in the College Park community. I agree with so much of what this poet says. Here are some of the lines I thought were most powerful: 

 

"Like trying to heal a burn victim by drowning them"--Such a great comparison. It is important for students to learn English, but shouldn't they learn their own language first? Sometimes they are not able to understand English if they don't even have a basis to translate. 

 

"The winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules"--The author says that he was lucky enough to never have to be a part of this system, and he's right. Almost everyone who is making the decisions about education right now has never had to deal with the hardships of specialized education, because unfortunately, a lot who have don't make it that far. We need more people advocating for those who aren't privileged to have an easy education career. 

 

"Like feeding caviar to your dog, they wont know how to appreciate it"--Some education law makers say we shouldn't give money to urban schools because it won't do any good anyway. What kind of twisted logic is this? If we don't support them, things will only get worse. 

 

"If the parents wont take care of their children why should we?" --Again, unfortunately education law makers feel that it is not their responsibility to raise the students, only to ensure they get an appropriate education. Which leads to the next point... 

 

"Since when does being a teacher mean swearing to not help?" --Teachers need to take a stand together to advocate for struggling students. I think it's safe to say that people who get involved with teaching do so because they care. They want to make a difference in students' lives, and some current ESOL programs are preventing them from doing just that. 

 

Such a powerful poem and an even more powerful message.

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Guest Essay: Improve city education to bridge poverty gap

Guest Essay: Improve city education to bridge poverty gap | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
Local economist says improving education is best way to bridge poverty gap
Caroline Weber's insight:

This article provides good support as to why college education is essential to closing the economic gap. It may seem fiscally irresponsible to devote a lot of money to education when there are fundamental economic issues, but it's important to realize that economic issues are in part caused by lack of educational funding. It is all a vicious cycle, and the education portion of the cycle needs support in order for the entire cycle to see progress. 

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A Classic High Achiever, Minus Money for a College Consultant

A Classic High Achiever, Minus Money for a College Consultant | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
For two friends from Jackson, Miss., both low-income students, freshman year at an Ivy meant never letting doubt win out.
Caroline Weber's insight:
I think it's wrong that engrained deep within our education system (especially in secondary eduction) are certain expectations about money and status. Travis Reginal felt like he wouldn't fit in with the people at Harvard and sometimes questioned whether he belonged there, and I think this is unfortunate because he worked so hard to get there, he should feel proud of his achievements without having to worry about what his classmates are thinking about his background. Another issue he brings up is that low income students aren't given the opportunity to go to elite colleges, and this is because elite colleges cost so much money. I also this think part of the education system needs to change, as higher education should be available to all those who seek it. 
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Six Ways to Address Cultural Diversity in the Classroom Effectively | eHow

Six Ways to Address Cultural Diversity in the Classroom Effectively | eHow | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
Teachers must address cultural diversity in U.S. classrooms now more than before. There are a number of programs aimed to increase multicultural diversity among classroom teachers.
Caroline Weber's insight:

With economic and achievement diversity is likely to come cultural diversity as well. Yet, even if it didn't (if there was a culturally uniform classroom with varying acadmic abilities and income levels), teaching cultural diversity awareness can serve as a good way to unify students (if they are tolerant of differences in this aspect, they will be more inclined to see past other differences they may have). 

This article mentions a few methods teachers can use to address cultural diversity in the classroom. Creating an inclusive and comfortable learning environment is essential. The article says that many different cultures should be represented around the room (possibly through decorations) and teachers should be careful to pronounce names of different origins correctly. These same concepts can be applied to address academic and economic diversity as well: teachers should be careful to make sure all assignments are fair (don't require access to resources that cost extra money, read stories that represent different styles of living, etc). The article also encourages cooperative learning and community partnerships that foster a sense of unity among students and the rest of the school. This concept is especially important, and also applies to other types of diversity as well. If students trust one another and feel supported, the differences between them can be something they acknowledge, but don't hold significant or negative meanings. 

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Watch: TED Talks Education

Caroline Weber's insight:

The first speaker on this TED Talks episode, Rita Pierson, is an experienced educator of students from diverse backgrounds, often from low socioeconomic statuses. One of the first things she says is that we all know why students don't learn: poverty, lack of resources, low attendance, etc. What she recommends, though, for increased learning is human connection. A lot of the other articles I've read mention how parent engagement with their children is crucial, especially in low income families, but Pierson specifically points out the role of teachers in establishing positive relationships with their students. "Kids won't learn from someone they don't like." It seems like an obvious point: we need better teachers. Teachers need to encourage their students, make them believe they have the capability to succeed, in order to see real progress in education. 

This semester, I was in the low-level fourth grade class. All of these students were at significantly lower achieving levels than their peers, and they knew it. There were many times I saw some of the students shut down the moment they didn't understand what the teacher was saying. I saw them refuse to even try because they thought they would fail, because they have been told they would fail or that they weren't good enough. Pierson gives an anecdote about a student who only got 2 out of 20 questions on a quiz right, and instead of writing -18 at the top, she wrote +2. The student said, "Is this an F?!" and Pierson responded, "Well, yes." And the student said, "Why did you write +2?" and she said, "You're on the road. You got two right, that's better than none right. You will improve next time." I know it sounds cheesey, and some people may not agree to celebrate such minor successes, but I agree with Pierson's philosophy. Students from low income families who have never experienced academic success need to know they can succeed, need to know they have a support system, before they can believe in themselves. Once they believe in themselves, that's when real change can be made. 

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'Crucial first eight years': Study finds most poor children lag on cognitive skills by age 8

'Crucial first eight years': Study finds most poor children lag on cognitive skills by age 8 | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
By Daniella Silva, NBC NewsOnly 19 percent of low-income third graders have
Caroline Weber's insight:

In addition to the academic difficulties low-income and non-white students face, this article points out the finding that a very low percentage of these students have "age-appropriate cognitive skills" as well. The article emphasizes the importance of early-childhood education, but recognizes the difficulties low-income families face in providing an adequate nurturing environment due to strain and stress associated with low-income. 

Something I found interesting was that the report discussed in this article suggests better communication between early-education programs and elementary schools. These seems like such an obvious solution that it's understandable that this has been overlooked. The report also suggests full-day pre-k programs with experienced teachers to help low-income children, and this too sounds like a great idea. Especially if families are working long hours, a pre-k program that lasts all day would be beneficial to both the family and the student. 

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Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
A Stanford psychologist found that affluent children had learned 30 percent more words from 18 months to 2 years of age than children from low-income homes.
Caroline Weber's insight:

Check out this scoop on my Parental Involvement board for my complete reaction. This article is applicable to many topics, and it was too great not to share more than once! 

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Caroline Weber's curator insight, October 22, 2013 10:03 AM

This article reinforces all that I've been reading about the importance of early childhood education and parent involvement in academics. This article takes a little bit of a different perspective than a few others I've read about kindergarten readiness. While they do emphasize the importance of pre-school education, they point to parents engaging in conversation with their children as the most crucial part of language and vocabulary development. It makes sense that the more children are exposed to words, the easier time they will have recognizing those words later on. Unfortunately, though, this heavy exposure is something that children of middle and upper class families seem to be experiencing. It's perplexing as to why socioeconomic status would have an impact even in an area that has nothing to do with money. Hopefully parents of low income families start to realize that there are (free!) steps they can take to increase the chances of their children's success in the classroom. 

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Closing achievement gap requires new thinking

Closing achievement gap requires new thinking | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
For nearly 50 years, the federal government has tried — but largely failed — to find the right formula to close the achievement gap between the highest-performing students in America’s public school classrooms and those who get left behind.
Caroline Weber's insight:

This article makes some great points. I agree that the growth model encourages thought that "skin color, language, or socioeconomic status dictate" what students can achieve. 

However, we've seen that No Child Left Behind and it's goal to equalize education does not work. As nice of an idea as equality in education sounds, equity in education seems like a better approach, because (let's face it) all students are not coming from equal home lives. 

The article proposes that a key component to education reform is a model that regonizes ecological factors. Students are obviously the focus of education, but they shouldn't be the only focus. Teachers need to not just be held responsible for student education, but they also need to present a united front of higher expectations for their students. The article almost mentions professional development that allows educators to collaborate to enhance learning environments, and I think this too is important. 

Yet one of the most important factors I see in educational success that the article doesn't mention specifically is family support. Along with professional collaboration, parents and community members should be actively involved in collaborative efforts so that high expectations enforced by educators are carried into home life as well. Family is the most influential force in a child's life, so extension of education in the home needs to occur for students to be successful. 

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Editorial: Say yes to education, Pittsburgh

Editorial: Say yes to education, Pittsburgh | Socioeconomic Status and the Achievement Gap | Scoop.it
Sending driven high school students to college is a conceptually lauded issue among many demographics. The various methods used to send these bright kids to post-secondary institutions, however, have met with less overarching agreement.
Caroline Weber's insight:

I"ve never head of programs like Say Yes Syracuse and the Pittsburgh Promise before, but I think they're incredible steps in the right direction. For many low income students, college is never an option because of the cost. Having the assurance that there is money available to fund their post-secondary education could probably encourage students to work hard during their earlier education years. It would be great to see programs like this implemented in cities across the country some day. 

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