New White Papers on “Achievable and Affordable” Education

The Campaign for Educational Equity, based at Columbia University’s Teachers College, issued five very interesting white papers about student support and the roots of the achievement gap. The papers will be discussed at a forum today, called “Achievable and Affordable: Providing Comprehensive Educational Opportunity to Low-Income Students.”

The authors make the case that comprehensively supporting students living in poverty is the key to preventing the achievement gap from emerging in the first place, a belief central to our work at City Connects. The papers include:

  1. A Legal Framework, by Michael A. Rebell
  2. How Much Does it Cost?, by Richard Rothstein, Tamara Wilder, and Whitney Allgood
  3. How Much Does New York City Now Spend on Children’s Services?, by Clive Belfield and Emma Garcia
  4. What Are the Social and Economic Returns?, by Clive Belfield, Fiona Hollands, and Henry Levin
  5. A Proposal for Essential Standards and Resources, by Michael A. Rebell and Jessica Wolff

All of the papers address student support from a unique vantage point, but in the first paper, Michael Rebell, executive director for the Campaign and a professor at Teachers College, sums it all up:

“Providing all underprivileged students with access to the in- and out-of-school resources necessary for school success—what we call ‘comprehensive educational opportunity’—is vital to children’s welfare as well as to our nation’s civic health and future global economic competitiveness.”

For more information:

Out-of-School Factors In the News

Central to our philosophy at City Connects is that the out-of-school factors affecting students have a great impact on their ability to learn and thrive in school. (You can read about how we address out-of-school factors for children here.)

Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute has written beautifully on the subject, most recently in an issue brief, “How to Fix our Schools.” In the brief, Rothstein reiterates research that demonstrates only one-third of the achievement gap in schools is due to quality of instruction.

“Decades of social science research have demonstrated that differences in the quality of schools can explain about one-third of the variation in student achievement. But the other two-thirds is attributable to non-school factors,” he wrote.

Two great articles published recently advocated for addressing out-of-school factors. Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville and Jeffrey R. Henig, professor of political science and education at Columbia University, jointly authored a commentary, “Why Attention Will Return to Non-School Factors,” in Education Week. Reville and Henig wrote:

“Our vision of the future of education reform is simple: American schools won’t achieve their goal of ‘all students at proficiency’ unless they attend to nonschool factors.”

They propose a multi-tiered solution comprising data that links student outcomes to services, quantifiable indicators of success that are measured long-term, and benchmarks that can provide feedback on student progress. Reville wrote an accompanying blog post, “Closing the Poverty Gap: The Way Forward for Education Reform,” about the relationship between poverty and student achievement in Massachusetts.

In the New York Times, Lisa Belkin considers attempts to increase parental engagement in schools in her article, “Whose Failing Grade Is It?“. Belkin introduces several pieces of state legislation aimed at mandating parents’ involvement in their children’s schools as a means to improve student performance. Belkin quotes Diane Ravitch, an education historian, who argues that parent education should be targeted to parents when their children are born up to age five. Ravitch goes on to say:

“…We need to acknowledge that the root problem is poverty.”

These two pieces call attention to the impact out-of-school factors can have on children–something we believe in strongly at City Connects. Our systematic approach to supporting students strengths and needs has proven effective; you can read about our results here.