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Posts tagged ‘Achievement Gap’

Education Commissioner Discusses the Changing Needs of Students Today and More

“The needs of students today are much greater than they were 20 years ago,” said Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona during an interview on WNPR’s Where We Live Program this morning. “I don’t think that we’ve done enough to make sure that we’re providing teachers with support and professional learning to meet the demands of the students today.”

From the achievement gap to minority teacher recruitment to social and emotional learning, Cardona spoke on a number of topics. Listen to the complete interview here.

On the changing needs of students today, Cardona said, “Unfortunately, many times when we’re cutting back, and we’re cutting out reading supports, or we’re cutting out social-emotional supports, that’s what the kids need the most. We need to be looking at the staffing that we have and where we’re putting our resources to provide supports, not only for the students in the classroom, but for the teachers that have the difficult job of raising the bar, despite having needier students at times.” Read more

Novel Approach for Closing Achievement Gap Focus of New Study

Students in classroom.While ethnic studies courses have received negative attention in recent years in places such as Arizona, where a Mexican American studies course was banned in 2010, a new study on these classes has come out with a significant finding: they can help improve struggling students’ attendance rates and grades.

Researchers looked at outcomes for students taking ethnic studies classes at several San Francisco high schools and compared them to outcomes for similar students not enrolled in the classes. They found a 21 percentage point increase in attendance and a 1.4 point increase in GPA for ninth-graders assigned to take the course. The effects were especially notable for male and Hispanic students.

“What’s so unique about this program is the degree to which it helped the students who took it,” said Emily Penner, co-author of the paper and a post-doctoral researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. “Schools have tried a number of approaches to support struggling students, and few have been this effective. It’s a novel approach that suggests that making school relevant and engaging to struggling students can really pay off.”

The study’s authors think the ethnic studies classes were likely successful in boosting students’ academic performance because they affirmed students’ identities and validated hardships students had experienced as members of minority groups.

The authors write that their findings indicate that “culturally relevant pedagogy can be extraordinarily effective in supporting the academic progression of struggling students.”

Perspectives on Connecticut’s Achievement Gap: Stratford Teacher Gives Students Tools to Face Life’s Challenges

Connecticut’s 2011 Teacher of the Year Kristen Record says that the achievement gap is her reality every day.

“I live the achievement gap. It’s my reality, every day.”

That’s what Kristen Record, Connecticut’s 2011 Teacher of the Year, told a crowd of 100 people at the Hartford Public Library today, where she was one of the keynote speakers at the CT Mirror Forum “Perspectives on Connecticut’s Achievement Gap.”

Record, who teaches physics at Bunnell High School in Stratford, says she doesn’t only teach “good students, but all levels of students—from students from affluent two-parent households to students from homes with single parents who work two jobs to make ends meet.”

Stratford is diverse and teaching is challenging

“I’m not perfect, but I do my best and make a difference in the lives of my students,” she says.

But there are many aspects of students’ lives that impact their learning that she and other teachers just can’t control, including absenteeism.

“Anyone who tells you that a student’s grade is an indication of the effectiveness of a teacher does not understand the complex realities of public education,” says Record.

Watch an excerpt of Record’s speech.

She says teachers understand the work they do is important and that it can have a profound effect on children’s lives.

“I know I make a difference, and it’s a difference that matters,” says Record. “A lot of teachers in Stratford make this same kind of difference.”

Record points to several programs that are helping to close the achievement gap in Stratford, including two CEA and Stratford partnership programs: Power Hour and Real Dads Forever. Both programs are geared toward getting parents more involved in their children’s education.

“Parents play a crucial role in closing the achievement gap and initiatives like Power Hour and Real Dads Forever, help to foster collaboration between schools and families,” says Record.

The physics teacher believes students learn from their relationships, and that the relationship between a student and teacher must go beyond the content of the classroom lesson of the day.

“No matter where kids come from, they want to be successful at something.  Our role as teachers is to help them figure out what that something is,” says Record.