The “achievement gap” has been a popular term in educational reform discussions, but some schools are finding ways to achieve. Although the odds are against them with high enrollments of low income minority students, the schools in the article below are finding that sitting back and looking at what their students are struggling with and then collaborating to remedy it has a large impact on student success. One school noticed their students struggling with vocabulary and word recognition while reading. Most of their parents were immigrants and the language spoke at home was one other than English. The lack of fluency and background knowledge lead to a disconnect in the classroom. So the staff got together and devised a plan to have every teacher in every classroom, regardless of subject taught, find ways to implement new words and ways of practicing these new words for absorption into the curriculum. Then they debriefed about the results and set new goals for further observations.
Collaborative efforts in American schools are rare. Each teacher is typically left to fend for themselves when figuring out how to help their students master the material they teach. Yet it’s these kinds of efforts that seem to be what sets the disadvantaged schools beating the odds in the article below apart. It really should be no surprise that collaboration may be the key to improving America’s public education system since the 21st century skills experts feel are the most important for preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s global marketplace are skills that transfer across the disciplines. For example, one must be able to problem solve no matter the subject matter and creative thinking helps both in art class and with science experiments.
Important questions to consider:
How can school districts across the nation create a culture of collaboration and support?
What type of curriculum will teach students 21st century skills within all the core subjects?
How can teachers build their teamwork and leadership skills through working with each other?
Monday, December 28, 2009
U.S. News and World Report
Many Schools Find Ways to Close the Achievement Gap
From New York to Arkansas to California, many schools have found ways to help disadvantaged students learn better
By Karin Chenoweth
For years, Americans have been pounded by bad news about public education: Students can’t do math as well as Japanese and South Korean kids, high school graduation rates are below those of most other developed countries, and many of the kids who do graduate need remedial courses before they’re ready for credit-bearing classes in college.
The news is even worse for low-income and minority children, whose academic performance generally lags so far behind that of middle-class white students that the “achievement gap” is a staple of every school reform discussion.
So what about the schools where low-income students and students of color do as well as their more privileged peers?
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