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.

California Watch: For blacks and Latinos, few Calif. high schools offer path to college

Joanna Lin

California high schools that serve largely Latino or African American students are failing them as pathways to college, according to a new report by a statewide education policy, research and advocacy organization.

Just 10 percent of high schools that serve primarily Latino students have above-average graduation and college-going rates for Latinos. The same is true for African Americans at 24 percent of high schools serving the largest proportions of African American students, the Education Trust–West found. Many students in both populations are low-income.

The college-going rate among Latino and African American students who graduated high school in 2010 lagged behind that of white and Asian students by 20 and more than 30 percentage points, respectively. The estimate, released last week, found 45 percent of Latinos and 46 percent of African Americans in the class of 2010 enrolled in college.

via For blacks and Latinos, few Calif. high schools offer path to college.

NPR News: Small Change In Reading To Preschoolers Can Help Disadvantaged Kids Catch Up

On a recent Monday morning in Washington, D.C., a group of 3-year-old preschoolers bumbled their way into a circle, more or less, on the rug of their classroom. It was time to read.

The children sat cross-legged as their teacher, Mary-Lynn Goldstein, held high a book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. There was a short conversation about pigeons, then, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, cows; and then Goldstein began to read. She read as most teachers read, occasionally stopping to ask a question, point out a picture or make a comment about the story.

In other words, it was a familiar scene — a scene that, on that very day, likely took place in every preschool classroom in the country. Preschool teachers do this, and have been doing it for decades.

“The thought was you read to children — that will make a big difference in how well they read later on when they’re in school,” says Anita McGinty, an education researcher who works at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. “That’s still probably the biggest message out there: Read to young children.”

via Small Change In Reading To Preschoolers Can Help Disadvantaged Kids Catch Up.

CA Dept of Education: NAEP Science Test Results

SACRAMENTO—While California eighth grade students showed little progress overall on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science test, the state’s Latino students made significant gains, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

“We’ve got a long way to go, and clearly we need to do more to support students and school science programs,” Torlakson said. “But given the enormous challenges facing our schools, it’s noteworthy that we are continuing to see signs of progress in science—a field that is crucial to the future of our students and our state.”

via NAEP Science Test Results.

Daily Republic: Vacaville High to celebrate success of second-language students

VACAVILLE — Vacaville High School plans to celebrate the work of second-language students from 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 10 in the Little Theater.

The ceremony will honor students, teachers and staff for working to close the achievement gap for second-language students. More than 40 students will receive awards. Food will be available, and dancers will perform as well.

via Vacaville High to celebrate success of second-language students.

Public Policy Institute of California: Preschool and School Readiness: Experiences of Children with Non-English-Speaking Parents

How can preschool help children become better prepared for kindergarten? This report examines the relationship of childcare experiences and kindergarten academic skills of four-year-old children. It finds that children attending center-based care significantly improve their early reading skills — including noticeable gains among those whose parents do not speak English.

via PUBLICATION: Preschool and School Readiness: Experiences of Children with Non-English-Speaking Parents.

Vallejo Times-Herald Letters: Time to get serious about the issues facing our Vallejo schools

Donna Lawson, Vallejo


The March 11 Times-Herald editorial (“Good time to ‘get on board’: Invite criticism”) was quite insightful. Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Ramona Bishop seems to unfairly target and blame teachers who speak out about student disruptions in the classroom and violence on school campuses.

via Time to get serious about the issues facing our Vallejo schools.

California Progress Report: Zoning The Poor Out of Good Schools

By Peter Schrag

Most of us have long known that in places like Oakland and Berkeley, and probably in a lot of other cities as well, the easiest way to predict a school’s test scores is by the altitude of the building.

The higher up the school, the more likely it will be in an affluent neighborhood. The schools in the flats, where the poor people live would almost inevitably have lower scores.

via Zoning The Poor Out of Good Schools.

The Educated Guess: Kindergarten for all comes of age in CA

By Kathryn Baron

For being so young, kindergarteners have incited more than their share of quarrels in California. State lawmakers and governors argued for a decade about how old kindergarten students should be, before voting in 2010 to raise the age to five. At the same time, they created Transitional Kindergarten (TK) for those who miss the new cutoff. Gov. Brown is currently trying to repeal the TK component.

via Kindergarten for all comes of age in CA – by Kathryn Baron.

The Educated Guess: STEMing the minority gap

By John Fensterwald – Educated Guess

The gap starts early in elementary school, widens in middle school, and continues, through filters and barriers, on a trajectory of low achievement and missed opportunities. By the end of college, the number of Latinos and African Americans who graduate with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math is a trickle: an estimated 1,688 from the University of California and California State University in 2008.

via STEMing the minority gap – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.

The Reporter: Jay Speck – Education: Trapped in the past

By Jay Speck

I recently participated in the Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., where community members, legislators, parents, educators and business leaders from across the country gathered to develop and share strategies to address the staggering high school dropout problem.

via Education: Trapped in the past.

CA Dept of Education: California Distinguished Schools for 2012

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 387 exemplary California public elementary schools were named 2012 California Distinguished Schools for their innovative education programs that encourage students to learn and help close the achievement gap.

via California Distinguished Schools for 2012.

Vallejo Times-Herald: VUSD ‘Gap’ event participants thanked

Bob Russell,

Principal, Solano Middle School

In response to the “Closing the gap” article, (Feb. 2) featuring efforts to close the student achievement gap at our school, I want to thank the event’s participants and planners:

Dr. Ramona Bishop for both presenting a stirring achievement gap message, and then remaining for a full two hours to conclude the event with us; Assistant Superintendent Mel Jordan for his presentation, along with Vice Principal Fetters, regarding, “De-Escalation Techniques”; Christal Watts, president of the Vallejo City Unified School District teachers union, for her presentation of the achievement gap from the perspective of district teachers; Mark Deweerdt, staff consultant for Vallejo, California Teacher’s Association for his presentation encouraging unity between the district, sites and the community as we work togehter to close the gap.

via ‘Gap’ event participants thanked.

Vallejo Times-Herald: Vallejo schools focus on achievement gap

By Lanz Christian Bañes / Times-Herald

If the teachers and staff at Solano Middle School have their way, all their students will soar.

“We not only want to reduce the achievement gap — we want to eliminate it,” Principal Bob Russell said Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month, during a meeting with his school staff.

via Vallejo schools focus on achievement gap.

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