New Report Shows High-poverty Schools Have Fewer In-field Teachers

The Education TrustThe Education Trust, a nonprofit group working to close the achievement gap, published a study yesterday that reports that 9 years after a federal law was passed to ensure that low-income students were being assigned to strong teachers, students in high-poverty schools are still disproportionately taught by out-of-field and inexperienced teachers. According to the report, Not Prepared for Class, “Staffing schools in a way that ensures that all kids have access to strong teachers requires states and school districts to mount strategies that address multiple problems at once.”

The study’s recommendation’s include:

  • Collect data on teacher quality and equality, and get it out in public.
  • Adopt a policy prohibiting disproportionate assignment of high-quality or low-quality teachers.
  • Use the state’s authority to intervene in low-performing schools.
  • Provide big incentives for strong teachers to stay in or move to high-poverty and high-minority schools.
  • Measure and hold accountable teacher preparation programs for producing high-quality teachers for high poverty and high-minority schools.
  • Develop rigorous evaluation systems to measure teacher effectiveness.

New Study Shows Achievement Gap Persists

A study released yesterday from the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization representing 66 of the nation’s large urban public school districts,  reports that the achievement gap in education may be wider than has been acknowledged. “A Call for Change: The Social and Educational Factors Contributing to the Outcomes of Black Males in Urban Schools” (pdf) looked at the differences between black and white students’ academic and social achievement and concludes that young black males in America are in a state of crisis, performing lower than their peers on almost every indicator. The study examined African-American males’  readiness to learn, National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, college and career preparedness, school experience, and post-secondary experience. Findings include:

·Black children were twice as likely to live in a household where no parent had full-time or year-round employment in 2008. And in 2007, one out of every three black children lived in poverty compared with one out of every 10 white children.

· On the 2009 fourth grade NAEP reading assessment, only 12% of black male students nationally and 11% of those living in large central cities performed at or above proficient levels, compared with 38% of white males nationwide. The average African-American fourth and eighth grade male who is not poor does no better in reading and math on NAEP than white males who are poor.

· Black males were nearly twice as likely to drop out of high school as white males. Black male students nationally scored an average 104 points lower than white males on the SAT college entrance examination in reading.

· Black students were less likely to participate in academic clubs, more likely to be suspended from school, and more likely to be retained in grade than their white peers.

· The unemployment rate among black males ages 20 and over (17.3%) was twice as high as the unemployment rate among white males of the same age (8.6%) earlier this year. In 2008, black males ages 18 and over accounted for 5% of the college population, while black males accounted for 36%of the nation’s prison population.

The Council would like the White House to convene a conference where a comprehensive plan of action could be established.

For more information:

Massachusetts Among Top States Distributing Education Funding Fairly, Study Says

To determine if school funding reaches the students who need it the most, a new study from the Education Law Center, “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” ranked all 50 states on their education finance systems and school funding fairness. The study examined  four separate but interrelated “fairness indicators”–funding level, funding distribution, state fiscal effort, and public school coverage.

Scoring high in all four indicators, Massachusetts received a grade of B. The study reports that Massachusetts has a mean actual state and local revenue per pupil of $14,355, which is higher than the national average. Five other states also ranked highly across all categories: Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wyoming.

For more information:

Registration Now Open for City Connects Conference on Optimized Student Support

Registration is now open for City Connects’ first-ever conference, Optimized Student Support: Best Practices for Schools & Community Agencies, held at Boston College on Friday, November 5.

With the support of the New Balance Foundation, the conference will provide a forum for presentations, discussions, questions, and networking as we address critical ways to optimize support for students and ensure all children come to school ready to learn and thrive.

Recent dialogue has acknowledged the importance of this core function of schools and has raised some challenging questions. Can schools provide quality instruction and at the same time offer comprehensive student support? How can we best address students’ strengths as well as needs? What characterizes effective partnerships with community agencies? How can we ensure breadth across academic, social-emotional, health, and family domains?

We believe that the promising and exciting work of recent years points the way not only to optimizing student support in schools and districts, but to innovative ways of demonstrating that it is essential to student achievement and thriving. We look forward to sharing evidence-based best practices among educators, administrators, researchers, community agency leaders, and student support professionals.

Registration is free but space is limited.

Register Now!

City Connects Highly Rated Among i3 Proposals

The U.S. Department of Education announced the applicants for the “Investing in Innovation,” or i3, grants who achieved high ratings but were not funded. We were pleased to learn that City Connects was the next-highest-rated proposal (after the awardees) in our category of validation grants for growing programs with evidence of success–see a list of proposals and their scores here. Of the 1,700 applicants, 49 were awarded grants, 15 of those in the validation category.

In an announcement, the Department of Education said it is planning to convene a summit for the promising applicants who were highly rated but not funded “in order to continue to support innovation and evidence based practice . . . and highlight these high quality programs at a forum at which potential funding partners may support efforts that the department is unable to directly support at this time.”

The administration has requested an additional $500 million in funding to continue the i3 program in FY 2011.

For more information:

  • Visit the data.ed.gov i3 site to learn more about the  i3 proposals
  • See a summary of the City Connects i3 proposal here
  • See the 49 funded projects receiving i3 grants here
  • Follow the U.S. Department of Education on Twitter @USEDgov

Eliot School on the Today Show

The pre-k program at Boston’s Eliot K-8 School, a City Connects school, was featured on the Today Show this morning during their special Education Nation coverage. Principal Traci Walker Griffith invited Matt Lauer into the school to see how preparing children for the routines and rituals of being a student sets them up for success in kindergarten. Watch the clip here.

For more information:

Meta-analysis Shows Giving Children Books Improves Reading

In a meta-analysis of 11,000 reports and 108 studies, a new report commissioned by Reading is Fundamental concludes that children’s book lending and ownership programs lead to positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes. The study, Children’s Access to Print Materials and Education-Related Outcomes,  conducted by Learning Point Associates, found that access to print materials:

  • Improves children’s reading performance: Kindergarten students showed the biggest increase in reading performance.
  • Are instrumental in helping children learn the basics of reading: Providing children with reading materials allowed them to develop basic reading skills such as letter and word identification, phonemic awareness, and completion of sentences.
  • Causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time: Giving children print materials leads them to read more frequently and for greater amounts of time.
  • Produces improved attitudes toward reading and learning: When children have greater access to books and other print materials–through either borrowing books or receiving books to own-they develop more positive attitudes toward reading and learning.

They meta-analysis also found positive relationships between access to books and motivation to and interest in reading; writing performance; language development; and academic performance in subjects other than reading after performance.

For more information:

  • Read the EdWeek Inside School Research blog coverage

Boston Public Schools “Acceleration Agenda Dashboard” Unveiled

Superintendent Johnson
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson

In a move to make more data available about the progress of  Boston Public Schools, the district has unveiled an”Acceleration Agenda Dashboard.” It includes information about the district’s strategies, as well as its progress toward four target goals:

  • Strengthen teaching and school leadership
  • Replicate success and turn around low-performing schools
  • Redesign district services for effectiveness, efficiency, and equity
  • Deepen partnerships with parents, students, and the community

An example of information available on the dashboard: the goal “Reading to learn in grade 3” is measured by the number of third-graders proficient or advanced in the MCAS English Language Arts statewide test. Currently, the dashboard shows that 37% of students achieve this goal, which is shy of the 59% target. One goal on the dashboard that shows success is “Academic growth for students with disabilities.” The number of special education students demonstrating high or very high growth on the MCAS Math exam is 36%, in excess of the 32% target.

The district says that the site will be updated as new data become available, eventually drilling down to provide individual school-level data.

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