Achievement gap an ‘indicator that right strategies are not being used’ | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg

The results of the Smarter Balanced assessments, the centerpiece of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, were released Sept. 9 and showed the vast achievement gaps that decades of education reforms have failed to close. In a series of interviews, EdSource executive director Louis Freedberg interviewed several leading experts about the continuing gap – and what additional reforms are needed to narrow or close it. Part Three of the series features Michael Fullan, professor emeritus of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Fullan is working closely with several California school districts and the California Department of Education to implement what he calls the “right drivers for whole system reform.” He has written elsewhere that California “needs to go slow, to go fast” and has “three years to get it right.”

via Fullan: Achievement gap an ‘indicator that right strategies are not being used’ | EdSource.

Congress Urged to Expand Opportunities for African-American Boys – Education Week

By guest blogger Gina Cairney

Tracy Martin, the father of the African-American teenager who was shot and killed last year in an incident that renewed national debates over race relations, urged members of Congress to improve the educational opportunities of black boys.

Nationwide, statistics show that African-American boys tend to have poorer educational outcomes than their white peers. An Education Week report found such students are disproportionately affected by school discipline policies, effectively funneling them into “school-to-prison pipelines.”

via Congress Urged to Expand Opportunities for African-American Boys – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.

EdSource Today: Disparities in education can crush aspirations in heart of Silicon Valley


Sunnyvale, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is home to such high-tech fixtures as Yahoo!, Juniper Networks, AMD and Applied Micro, plus aerospace/defense operations of Lockheed Martin and Honeywell. Yet few Latinos who grow up in their shadow are qualified to work for those companies.

The disconnect between aspirations and reality starts early. Only 10 percent of Latinos, who comprise 42 percent of students in Sunnyvale Elementary District, are proficient in algebra by the end of 8th grade, a key measure of getting students on track for a career in science, engineering and math.

via Disparities in education can crush aspirations in heart of Silicon Valley – by John Fensterwald.

Education Week: Fixing the ‘Opportunity Gap’ to Close the Achievement Gap

What would it really take to close the achievement gap?

The answer, according to a cadre of education scholars who have just published a new book, is to fix the “opportunity gap” that exists between children born into middle class and affluent families and those who are not.

Thirty years after the release of the seminal A Nation at Risk report ushered in an era of academic standards and standardized tests to measure how students were mastering those, “Closing the Opportunity Gap,” argues that until federal and state governments, as well as local school districts, devote as much time and attention to making investments in broad access to quality preschool, health care, good teachers, and rich curricula as they have to driving up test scores and graduation rates, the academic gaps between upper and middle-class kids and their low-income peers will never disappear.

via Fixing the ‘Opportunity Gap’ to Close the Achievement Gap.

The Reporter: Bay Area school districts, including Vacaville Unified, failing with minorities

By Theresa Harrington/ Contra Costa Times

An educational advocacy group released its third annual District Report Cards earlier this week, showing that half of the largest Bay Area unified districts improved in their efforts to educate low-income students and those who are black or Latino.

But still far too many districts are failing — or getting average and below-average marks, including Vacaville Unified School District and two other Solano County districts — to adequately prepare those students for graduation and for college, according to the Oakland-based Education Trust-West.

via Bay Area school districts, including Vacaville Unified, failing ….

Education Week: Federal Commission Urges Bold Steps to Boost Education Equity

A federally appointed education-equity commission is proposing a five-pronged agenda for states and the federal government to help the 22 percent of children living in poverty and eliminate what the commission calls a “staggering” achievement gap.

Three years in the making, the new report released today stems from a 2010 congressional directive to the U.S. Department of Education, which created the Equity and Excellence Commission. The report, called “For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence”, makes recommendations in a number of areas:

via Federal Commission Urges Bold Steps to Boost Education Equity.

Dan Walters: High school grad rates tell a tale

Let’s assume, for sake of argument or column-writing, that the fundamental task of any public school system is to maximize the number of students who graduate from high school and are ready to either enter the workforce or further their educations.

Thanks to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education, which for the first time provides state-by-state comparisons of graduation rates on common criteria, we now know where California ranks – and it isn’t very high.

Read more here:

via Dan Walters: High school grad rates tell a tale.

Education Week: New Graduation Rate Data Show Large Achievement Gaps

The U.S. Department of Education today released four-year high school graduation rates for the 2010-11 school year that, for the first time, reflect a common method of calculation for all states.

The state-by-state data show graduation rates that range from 59 percent in the District of Columbia to 88 percent in Iowa. The new method requires states to track individual students and report how many first-time 9th graders graduate with a standard diploma within four years.

via New Graduation Rate Data Show Large Achievement Gaps.

NPR Topics: What’s Driving Dropout Rate For Black, Latino Men?


Switching gears now, it’s Hispanic Heritage Month. That’s the time of year when we talk about the contributions and, sometimes, challenges facing people of Latino heritage in this country.

And, today, we want to point out a story that has both in the area of education. A new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education says that only 58 percent of Latino male ninth graders graduate high school in four years. Only 52 percent of black males graduate in that length of time and that’s compared to 78 percent of white non-Latino ninth graders.

So that’s the challenge. The opportunity is that a number of organizations and individuals are trying to turn that situation around. I’m joined now by John H. Jackson. He is the president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Also with us is Pilar Montoya. She is the CEO of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, which is also called SHPE, and she’s looking at ways to get Latino students more involved in the so-called stem fields, which is science, technology, engineering and math.

via What’s Driving Dropout Rate For Black, Latino Men?.

SCOE’s Facebook Wall: Solano County students improve in 2012 STAR Test

Solano County Office of Education’s Facebook Wall
FAIRFIELD – Solano County students continue to demonstrate strong gains in English-language arts and mathematics, according to the results of California’s 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test results. Approximately 48,400 Solano County students participated in the 2012 STAR program. The results were released to the public by the California Department of Education on August 31.

The STAR tests were administered in the spring of 2012 to all California public school students in grades 2 through 11. The tests were developed specifically to assess students’ knowledge of the California content standards. The State Board of Education adopted these standards, which specify what all children in California are expected to know and be able to do in each grade or course. Scores are used for calculating each school’s Academic Performance Index (API) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

via Solano County students improve in 2012 STAR Test results

Achievement gap cont….

EdSource Today: Test scores rise, but achievement gaps persist

By Susan Frey]

Student performance on California’s achievement tests in almost every subject at almost every grade level by every ethnicity — despite recent cutbacks to education funding, according to 2012 STAR (Standardized Testings and Reporting)  results released by the California Department of Education today.

But a substantial achievement gap persists between low-income and higher-income students, and between African American and Latino students and their white and Asian peers.

Overall, 57 percent of the 4.7 million students tested proficient or advanced in English and 51 percent scored at least proficient in math — a substantial improvement since 2003, when the tests were first based on state standards and included in a school’s Academic Performance Index (API). In 2003, 35 percent tested proficient or better in both English and math.

via Test scores rise, but achievement gaps persist – by Susan Frey.

California Watch: K–12: Cost of living can affect student achievement, study says

Bernice Yeung

Poor children living in higher-cost areas like the urban centers of California are more likely to struggle academically than their counterparts in lower-cost areas, according to research published today.

Based on a sample of more than 17,000 first-graders, the study by researchers from UCLA and the nonprofit Child Trends “provides important empirical evidence … that geographic variations in cost of living indeed matters for children’s well-being,” the article states.

Although there is a substantive body of research examining the relationship between family income and child development and educational outcomes, this is among the first studies to look at the effects of cost of living on academic achievement.

via Cost of living can affect student achievement, study says.

EdSource Today: A dozen-plus bills would reduce barriers to success for boys of color

By Kathryn Baron

The chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Boys and Men of Color is confident that the bulk of legislation supported by the panel this session will become law.  Oakland Democrat Sandré Swanson wrapped up the committee’s first two years yesterday, presiding over a hearing in the Capitol that laid out current and future proposals for creating a path to success for African American, Latino and Native American boys.

Of about 19 bills supported by or introduced by members of the Select Committee, Swanson told EdSource Today he expects as many as 14 will make it to Gov. Brown’s desk (click here for bill info).  More than half of those address the disproportionately harsh discipline meted out to Black and Latino boys.  Recent studies found that although African American boys make up just 8 percent of the state’s public school students, they account for 19 percent of all suspensions.  Most of the offenses have nothing to do with violence or bringing weapons to campus; according to the committee’s draft action plan, the transgressions are more than likely to fall into the “willful defiance” category, which includes rude behavior such as talking back to a teacher.

via A dozen-plus bills would reduce barriers to success for boys of color – by Kathryn Baron.

The Educated Guess: Select committee: Time running short to end racial disparity

By Kathryn Baron

California’s economic prosperity may lie in a dozen recommendations for helping African American, Latino, and Southeast Asian boys succeed in school. The state Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color is releasing those proposals today in Sacramento along with testimony from an all-star panel of education, health, and workforce experts.

Committee members spent the last year and a half holding hearings across the state to gather personal stories, research, and examples of successful reforms. What they learned filled 19 bills that are currently before the Legislature. Nearly half those bills address the disproportionately high rates of school suspensions and expulsions meted out to boys of color.

The panel notes that although more than 70 percent of Californians under 25 aren’t white, they continue to face extensive economic, educational, and health barriers that prevent them, and eventually the state, from thriving.

via Select committee: Time running short to end racial disparitie – by Kathryn Baron.

EdSource Today: Educational differences run deep by race, ethnicity, and income in new report

By Kathryn Baron

California’s poor showing in a national study of children’s well-being came despite increases in academic achievement. California students improved on all four indicators in education, according to the 23rd annual Kids Count report released last week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Between 2005-07 and 2008-10, more children enrolled in preschool, more fourth and eighth grade students were proficient in reading and math respectively, and more high school students graduated on time. The increases ranged from four to six percent. But it wasn’t enough to lift the state above an education ranking of 43 out of the 50 states.

California fared little better in its overall score, coming in at 41 based on its performance in all four categories scored by Kids Count. In addition to education, the report examined economic well-being, health, and family and community.

The four categories are generally intertwined, so new research indicating that family income has trumped race and ethnicity as a potential cause of the education achievement gap may be part of the reason California did so poorly. Nationwide, the gap between socioeconomic level and academic achievement is “nearly twice as large as the Black/white achievement gap,” wrote Stanford education professor Sean Reardon in his study The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor. “That’s the opposite of what it was 50 years ago.”

via Educational differences run deep by race, ethnicity, and income in new report – by Kathryn Baron.

EdSource Today: California nearly last in children’s well-being

By Kathryn Baron

California is doing slightly better by its kids but still has a long way to go, ranking 41st out of 50 states in the overall well-being of children. The 2012 Kids Count report, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, measures how well children are faring on 16 different indicators in education, economic well-being, health, and family and community.

California showed improvements in 10 of the 16 categories, including education. The brightest spot is health, where it ranked 23rd, primarily due to good prenatal care and increasing numbers of children with health insurance. But despite some improvements in other categories, the state was near the bottom everywhere else, ranking 42nd in family and community, 43rd in education, and 45th in economic well-being.

“This report shows California is continuing to sell children short,” said Ted Lempert, President of the Oakland-based Children Now, in a written statement.

via California nearly last in children’s well-being – by Kathryn Baron.

EdSource Today: A mind is still a terrible thing to waste

By Michele Siqueiros and Arun Ramanathan

What if we told you that no matter how hard you tried, you only had a 5 percent chance of succeeding? What if it was your first day of kindergarten and we told you those were your odds of getting a college degree at a California university?

We don’t tell our kindergarteners that. In fact, we tell them the opposite. “You can be anything you want in life if you work hard enough.” But in California that’s just not the case for the nearly 4 million students who are Latino or African American. They have a 1 in 20 chance of graduating from a California public university. California’s prosperity is dependent on us changing these odds.

According to a recent report from the California Competes Council, California will need 5½ million new college degrees and technical certificates by the year 2025. We simply cannot meet these needs without improving results for our Latino and African American students, who are the vast majority of our student population.

via A mind is still a terrible thing to waste – by Michele Siqueiros and Arun Ramanathan.

Edutopia: Closing the Achievement Gap One Student at a Time

Poverty is a huge factor affecting the performance of our elementary students. Schools, districts and states with a high percentage of low-income families can reasonably cite poverty as one explanation for lower test scores or poor performance in other measures of student achievement.

My concern, however, is always for the individual children in my classroom. At that level, should poverty be any excuse for poor student performance?

In my opinion, absolutely not! Every one of our students can make significant yearly academic progress no matter what the quality of their home life.

I believe a lot in the promise of public education. Our schools are supported by taxes, and every family pays those taxes. In exchange, we promise (or should promise) that we will do our utmost to provide an excellent education for every student who walks through our doors.

via Closing the Achievement Gap One Student at a Time.