Archive for the ‘
education achievement gap ’ Category
As a first generation Cambodian American student, I had a difficult time believing that I was capable of handling advanced placement (AP) courses in high school. I was overwhelmed with feelings of fear and self-doubt: “Should I sign up for an AP class? Do I belong there? Will I be able to handle the work? What happens to me if I fail?”
During my junior year, my guidance counselor noticed that I was getting good grades in my other classes and wondered why I wasn’t challenging myself with more rigorous coursework. She encouraged me to put aside my fear of failure and enroll in my first advanced placement course, AP Government. This course not only inspired my later work in policy, it also served as a gateway to other AP courses that boosted my confidence, pushed my critical thinking, and prepared me for college-level work.
Education research affirms my experience. Two landmark studies conducted by researchers at the University of Texas found that “students who took one or more AP tests and courses had higher college GPAs, earned more credit hours, and were more likely to graduate in four years or fewer.”[i]
In Federal Way Public Schools (Washington’s eighth largest school district), Superintendent Rob Neu and Assistant Superintendent Josh Garcia took this research to the next level by implementing Academic Acceleration in 2010, an advanced placement policy that works by automatically enrolling students in grades 6-12 into advanced classes when they score proficient or better on the state exams. For example, if students meet the standard for math, they are automatically enrolled in an advanced math course that their high school offers. (more…)
Kelly Smith holds a Master of Public Administration from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of Oregon. She joined ECONorthwest in 2008. She specializes in human services and social policy, applying policy research and analysis, program evaluation, performance measurement, economic analysis and other methods to topics in education, workforce development, poverty, child support, and criminal justice.
As graduation day nears for the class of 2013—congratulations and best wishes for a bright future, graduates! —Let’s pause to think about the three in 10 students who won’t be graduating with their class. Considering the limited economic prospects for high school dropouts, not to mention the costs to society associated with students who drop out of high school, this is rightly considered a national crisis.
As it stands, only 67.7 percent of Oregon’s class of 2007-08 graduated with their class and received a regular diploma; another 4.7 percent graduated within the following year. This leaves 27.6 percent without their high school diploma (as reported by the Oregon Department of Education). Graduation rates are even lower for many demographic and socioeconomic subgroups.
This post originally appeared on Huff Post’s IMPACT blog and can be read in its entirety here.
The recent passing of Margaret Thatcher signals the true end of an era — Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan all were powerful leaders in the 1980s. While Reagan is now known largely for his international agenda, his domestic policies remain a part of our national fabric.
The end of April will mark the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking “A Nation at Risk” education report issued during the Reagan Administration. No matter how one feels about Reagan’s viewpoints, there is no doubt the report’s stark introductory language is memorable:
“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”
Thirty years on we are still struggling with those words and how we are failing students especially those who live in low-income neighborhoods.
The 1983 report kicked off a national education reform effort that picked up steam in many states. Massachusetts and Maryland in particular made great strides and now are considered to be the states with the highest education standards in the country.
Meanwhile, I must admit my state of Oregon has many great features but a strong K-12 reform agenda has not been one of them. On state report cards, we get an A for being bike friendly and an A+ for hazelnut production. But Education Week gives us a C on its report card and ranks us 43rd in the nation for education based on numerous factors including how we treat teachers. We received a D in the subcategories of accountability for quality and incentives and allocations.
Lori Lynass Ed.D. has served in the role as Executive Director for NW PBIS Network for the past three years. Prior to that she was a Research Scientist for the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Dr. Lynass has worked directly with over 300 schools on their implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Married to a teacher and the mother of school age children, she truly believes that all children deserve an excellent education.
Incorporating policy efforts and evidence-based practices from the fields of education and mental health, the PBIS model has emerged as a three-tiered framework of support focused on prevention and early intervention strategies that promote positive school climates and provide needed non-cognitive skills to students. The premise of PBIS is that measures are put in place proactively so that problem behaviors are less likely to occur and academic engaged time increases. PBIS emphasizes the prevention of problem behaviors and promotion of a positive school culture at the first tier and offers group and individualized intervention services for students who continue to struggle with problem behaviors at the second and third tiers. (more…)
For the past few months, in the right hand sidebar we have asked our readers to answer a very important, but challenging, question: If you had to focus Oregon’s investment in public education on one effort, what would it be?
33 readers gave us their answers:
- Closing the achievement gap (30%, 10 Votes)
- Broader school choices (charters, magnets, focus schools) (18%, 6 Votes)
- Professional development (15%, 5 Votes)
- Early childhood programs (15%, 5 Votes)
- Parental support programs in struggling communities (15%, 5 Votes)
- Mentoring new teachers (6%, 2 Votes)
- Higher education (1%, 0 Votes)
According to the poll, focusing on closing the achievement gap in Oregon is what many of you think is most important. The recent release of the data surrounding Oregon high school graduation rates showed only 67 percent of students graduate in 4 years. These results also showed that the achievement gap is narrowing. The 4-year graduation rates for Native American, African American and Hispanic students all increased this year. This is a step in the right direction. Read more.
It’s kind of a gloomy time in Oregon right now. The weather is cold, rainy, and windy. Families are facing economic hardships while social services continue to be reduced. The racial achievement gap is a daunting and complicated problem. Schools are asked to achieve more with fewer resources. Hiring freezes are happening in state and local agencies.
We, as educators, social workers, and others who work on behalf of children and families, are very good at pointing out the problems. This isn’t surprising, as it is often our job to do this – to advocate, so that those in power are encouraged to make better decisions for our community. As programs and services are cut, and then cut again, and our jobs are on the line (or altogether eliminated), it’s hard to feel optimistic.
T.J. Chandler is the founder of EdZapp, Oregon’s statewide online employment application, and is now the Regional Director of Operations for Netchemia, LLC working with K-12 teacher and administrator evaluations. T.J. was formerly the Director of Business Applications for the New York City Board of Education, and has worked with over one hundred school districts across the country on operational and human capital issues. T.J. holds degrees from Willamette University and Princeton University.
As some celebrate the 10th anniversary of NCLB and others curse it, I ask, “What have we learned from it?” In particular, I am intrigued by certain parallels between evaluating “student achievement” and “teacher performance.”
Like the discussions 10-15 years ago about students “falling behind” and “dropping out,” policy-makers realize that there is a problem with teacher effectiveness and attrition. The tough part for both problems, of course, is specifying–in meaningful and legally-defensible terms–which individuals are having trouble, and even more importantly how to help them improve.
The recent release of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides results that should give all Oregonians cause for great concern. Most NAEP measures for Oregon students are disheartening. Oregon is now one of five states where the overall achievement gap widened between 2003 and 2011. Additionally, low-income students in Oregon rank among the lowest performing in the nation and have lost ground since 2003. This information invites questions that should be in the forefront of Oregon’s attempt to restructure educational delivery. What will it take to declare a statewide breakdown? What is Oregon’s commitment to close the achievement gap?
NAEP Report Overview
Also known as the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP is the only tool we have to assess which states appear to be making progress in academic achievement. While we recognize the limits of NAEP, simultaneously the results should not be ignored. One advantage of this national assessment is the opportunity to assess progress over time. Another dimension of interest is the opportunity to disaggregate results and examine how different student subgroups fare compared to others across the country.
David Mandell has been with the Children’s Institute since 2006. He leads the Institute’s major research projects and is integral in developing the organization’s policy agenda and strategies. Prior to joining the Children’s Institute staff, David was a visiting assistant professor at Reed College and adjunct faculty at Portland State University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. David recently served on the Governor’s Early Learning Design team.
On October 17th, Oregon submitted its application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant.
I had the opportunity to work on Oregon’s application, and witness the dedication that went into it. We had just eight weeks to put together a 300+ page comprehensive plan for Oregon’s early learning system.
If Oregon wins the grant, the benefit for the state will be significant. The grant, a collaborative project of the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to spur states to build comprehensive early care and education systems that promote the school readiness of all children (with a focus on those with high needs). Thirty seven states applied for the small handful of awards. The winning states will be announced before the end of the year and, if chosen, Oregon will receive $50 million over three years.
The collaboration that went into this effort exemplified what we want to see happen in Oregon’s government. Folks from education, health, human services and employment worked together to plan for:
- Common early learning standards that will support the school readiness of all children.
- An integrated data system that will track children’s progress and support quality improvements for programs.
- Early childhood professional development system that will build the skilled and knowledgeable workforce that is needed to deliver results for children. (more…)
This week, the 2011 NAEP scores were released. The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the only assessment of student learning that is given to students across the nation- making it a significant tool for comparisons across states. A representative sample of 4th and 8th graders take the exam in reading and math every two years.
On the whole compared to 2009, the new data showed small improvements in math and relatively flat scores in reading. In Oregon, scores held steady compared to 2009 with no significant improvements or declines.
State Superintendent Susan Castillo said of the results, “While we didn’t see drastic changes from the previous NAEP results, we are not seeing the improvements in student performance that we know Oregon needs in order to compete nationally and internationally.”
Indeed, looking further back to 2003 some states have made substantial progress, particularly for their low income students, while Oregon has not. (more…)