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Oakland’s scores improve, achievement gap grows

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 9:10 am in achievement gap, students, test scores.

Update: Here is another district spreadsheet that shows the average racial/ethnic results across all grade levels.

OUSD’s test scores improved this year, after flattening out in 2007. But there is still plenty of room for improvement. Only about one-third of the kids tested scored at proficient levels or better in math, reading and science. (You can find the results here.)

Also, despite modest gains in the average scores of most ethnic groups, a striking racial achievement gap remains. It shows up in an area that the school district has zeroed in on during the last four or five years: Third-grade reading.

The disparity in the English language arts scores of white third-graders and their non-white peers has actually grown during the last five years, despite the district’s efforts to narrow the gap.

If you look at the percentages of those who scored at “proficient” or “advanced” levels in reading — one of the measures used to determine progress in the No Child Left Behind Act — the data is stark: White and black third-graders are 56 percentage points apart (79 percent/23 percent). For white and Latino students, the difference is 63 percentage points (79 percent/16 percent).

I made a spreadsheet and crude chart of this data, using the results from 2003, 2007 and 2008. You can find it here.

The economic achievement gap in third-grade reading scores was much smaller — 20 percentage points. It actually narrowed in the last year, but mostly because the scores of children who don’t come from low-income backgrounds dropped by 11 points.

One bright spot is the improvement by English learners. The percentage of English learners who tested at the proficient level or higher more than doubled in the last year, to 13 percent.

I plan to update this later in the day with more charts and analysis, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you notice anything in the sea of numbers, tell us about it.

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  • Nextset

    These scores are nothing new. Are we to blame the students for their failures or are we to blame the teachers? Mind you, the students went to the same schools and presumably had access to the same teachers and the same books.

    POr are we to blame neither students or teachers and chalk it all up to genetics? Or is there something else going on here?

    One position I am taking, this is not caused by the teachers. And I’m not fond of the OUSD teachers either.

    If the students in question don’t particularly want to learn or aren’t suitable for academics for some reason, what are we going to do about it? NCLB says we are to fire the administrators and possibly close the schools and replace the staff – transfer the kids elsewhere as if that will change something. I suppose one good thing about NCLB is that it is set up to force change from the status quo.

    NCLB makes it a sure thing that nobody is going to want the black students in their schools much longer, they will be the death of the schools if NCLB isn’t changed. The only way to survive under NCLB is to not have the minority students enroll in your school. And maybe that’s what Arnold and Co really have in mind by increasing the higher math requirements (ghetto repellant?) – getting rid of the black students entirely, followed by most of the Mexican students.

    Well I suppose change will come. Watch for an announcement that “New” schools are on the way that will have “New” programs with “New” teachers.

    Brave New World.

  • Catherine

    According to our school records, we have narrowed our achievement gap. We have a strong PTA and honestly 20% of our PTA money goes to “closing the gap” and it gets harder every year because as we try to close the gap, teachers are spending more time with the 4 or so students that need the extra help and very little time with the 6 or so students per class that score 98% or better.

    As a result, the top students are leaving the school for private school, which means the space is filled with students who did not have access to the resources, consequently the PTA must spend more resources on tutoring the kids who are behind . . .

    All of that said, it is very good to see that the gap is narrowing.

  • Nancy (Fancy)

    Lack of academic language proficiency is the problem. According to neuro-linguistics, there is a critical period between birth and sometimes 5 years old, where babies, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are exposed to their native tongue. To acquire proficiency in a 2nd language as well, it is even more important to have modeling of academic language by the home teachers. Without this, it is unrealistically possible to believe that anyone will acquire academic proficiency, and then only within 6 – 8 years of immersion and daily home practice, obviously many students, if any, will end up proficient sometime in High School, and by then they are behind in the basics like Reading/LA, Math, and Science which the tests are geared toward. It is not more money that is needed to “close the achievement gap” nor is it the fault of the District, the Principal, the Teacher etc etc…Parents need to take responsibility for ensuring their student closes the achievement gap. Additionally, we have to ask ourselves, how does a student show up for school past pre-K and perhaps Kindergarten age unable to understand English? And, then why does it then become the responsiblity of the District, School , Principal, and Teacher for the failure to score on the tests and to close the achievement gap? Many of these students and families lack the motivation to want to become academically proficient, another aspect of the way people are. Furthermore, not all students will grow up and go to college. Many do basic jobs that don’t require academic English proficiency, and even if a student and family does buy-in to such a goal, what are the rewards? A less than living wage for one. This issue is just part of a larger societal dilemma. The mother-tongue method must be supported by the parents and home environment first, and only then will their students meet the academic challenges to succeed. Let’s take a real look at the Elephant in the living room.

  • Cranky Teacher

    There’s a celebrated LA teacher who I think is a pyscho, but he does have a catchphrase which I think is apt here:

    There are no shortcuts.

    Basically, what he means is that if kids are way behind when they hit school, or a particular grade, there is no magic pill which can catch them up overnight.

    They can catch up significantly if:

    – In their community (school, friends, family) it is cool to learn.
    – They have adults or peers that will CONSISTENTLY support them.
    – They avail themselves of the many extracurricular, tutorial or remedial opportunities around.
    – They see the benefits of their extra work, both for the present and the future.

    These are not easy criteria to meet.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Following your logic they would learn if we put guns to their heads, paid them enough, promised them sex or otherwise just provided adequate motivation to the poor performers. I believe that is the popular wisdom which is the main reason the government blames the teachers and/or the school administrators for the gap. Thus the penalty provisions in NCLB which are predicated on racial political correctness.

    Sorry, we already know with certainty that it’s not the money or the motivation that separates the performing students from those who can’t read, can’t count and can’t function in an academic setting. Poverty is not the causation of inability to read, to learn or to behave. It never has been.

    The problem lies elsewhere.

    And I don’t want the teachers to be whipped over this although I think the teaching could be changed to obtain better results. Will that erase the gap? Never. Can the gap be narrowed? I believe so, to a point.

    Part of this problem is what people want. If some students decide not to take algebra among other things, it’s pointless to insist they have to. Running a healthy and productive school system can be done with a lot of choice in the schools. Those who choose an academic track should pay the price and attend such a campus. Those who don’t shouldn’t be in the neighborhood, and reasonable opportunities and options should be and must be found for them – a la the rest of the developed world.

    We are the only industrial nation with this one-size-fits-all school system, it has never worked and should be abandoned in favor of a more European system.

  • AC Mom

    Nextset:

    I agree that “the problem lies elsewhere”. Education is an example of the tail trying to wag the dog. While there are certainly many exceptions to this rule, generally speaking one can predict a child’s educational outcomes/attainment by looking at the parent’s own educational level or by their level of interest and participation in their child’s cognitive development. Furthermore, our failure to consider that young people need to be provided with vocational as well as college preparation options is ridiculous.

    The one area that I disagree with you on is your response to Cranky Teacher about his description of an LA teacher. There are several examples of such schools that follow this philosophy and have produced notable results. However, if you look at the statements at their core, they describe not some sort of educational Gulag, but rather qualities that are present in many middle class communities/homes. We are in a neighborhood where such an elementary school exists, but for Middle School, etc. we are in a quandry.

  • Nextset

    AC Mom: Can you elaborate on your 2nd paragraph? I don’t follow the reference. The LA Teacher says that “There Are No Shortcuts”. My point is that the children are what they want to be and the teachers can lead them to water but not make them drink. I don’t believe the teachers and maybe the schools can be faulted because the underperforming kids hate reading, education, self improvement and have deportment issues. There is probably little wrong with the school especially if other groups in the same school have normal performance levels. The inability of a given school with a performing ethnic group, say the whites or asians, to get performance out of other groups, say the blacks or hispanics may be the fault of the non-performers, not the teachers.

    And it may be that the school & it’s Educrats refuse to acknowledge that in such a circumstance the underperformers have made a lifestyle choice to be what the are – and should be re-routed into programs that they can work well in. Or maybe it’s not a choice after all.

    Can we import Irish Nuns and slap the nonperformers around a bit until they learn how to read, write and count, which is what I grew up with? No. But the current method of dealing with the ghetto is just unrealistic – especially that part about increasing the higher math requirements. Do we have any illusions about what Arnold’s new math requirements will do for LA Unified? It will surely increase the dropout rate.

    I would like for all this to go away and everybody to be equal but I have to live in the real world. So what does everybody think we should do as a society to address the “Gap” issue with our public schools?

    I typed “problem” then re-worded it to read “issue”. Calling “the Gap” a problem implies that it can be changed. Calling it an issue connotes that it is something that has to be lived with (at least for our lifespans).

  • AC Mom

    Nextset:

    I thought that you were discrediting the underlying philosophy posed by Cranky Teacher in post #4, that there are indeed no shortcuts, and a school can be established on those principles and be successful. I also believe that the values that he stated should be adopted in one’s home and community, independent of the public school system. I realize that the odds of a values shift actually happening on a large scale are slight, but a shift is surely needed. A major problem is, and I believe that you would agree with me on this, is that too many poor families fail to embrace education as a priority and as a result we see poor results year after year.

    I don’t think that Cranky Teacher or anyone on this board would argue in favor of the “discipline practices of the “old school” parochial model that you refer to. For a bunch of reasons that are obvious to everyone, that would simply not work. Times have changed.

    I am glad that you posted the question about what we should do about closing the gap, and I am stumped. If families choose to not to spend resources (and I don’t just mean money, time too) on education, then what can a school alone do? The one suggestion that I have won’t narrow the achievement gap, but I still think is worthwhile is vocational education.

  • Nextset

    AC: I don’t believe the public schools should be run thinking that the families are going to do very much with their kids. The public schools, at least in the urban areas, exist to serve the proletariat and the underclass. The professional class never enroll children in the public middle/high schools (such as LA Unified).

    Whatever our plan is to reduce the gap should be predicated on school on student without factoring in the “parent(s)” since underclass parents are a liability and will be for the forseeable future.

    Can the gap be eliminated? No it can’t. Can the students be trained for a honest living, Yes.

  • Catherine

    My daughter just had a sleepover. At breakfast we had our normal conversations about the upcoming expectations of school, what subjects both girls are interested in, what kinds of projects they hope to do at school.

    Then we realized as our daughter’s friend struggled with this information that these types are conversations are not what happens at mealtime at her house. As she struggled to think about and express her hopes for the upcoming year, she really struggled with her ideas, formulating the words to express them and whether she even had expectations of the learning that would happen.

    This is a girl whose parents live in the same house, love her, want her to do well in school, help her choose her classes, etc.

    Our daughter is ahead in many ways, learns actively and easily, tests well, expresses her ideas at home and to others.

    What would happen if teachers actually said to parents, you can help your child by . . . . asking open ended questions that require consideration and planning such as “Why did you choose this particular elective?” “What do you think will be covered in global studies?”

    I believe this short term memorization and regurgitation for the test is not helping – and it does not show what our children are capable of learning.

    How do we get parent to talk with and listen to our children, not just give them top down instructions?

  • Nextset

    Many parents, perhaps most parents in some districts – are not in the business of planning their children’s careers either academic or vocational. If that is going to get done at all it had better be done by the schools.

    This is a foreign concept to white liberals because they live in a fantasy land where they believe all people are just like them – and if other people aren’t like them they have to be evil or broken somehow.

    The parents of the children in Los Angeles Unified – a good example to talk about – aren in the business of survival for the most part and aren’t into helping Juanita and Jose with their algebra homework. That’s what they have the schools for.

    The public schools – especially the public schools that serve the proletariat – need to stop making excuses and get down to working with their students on all facets of education and careers with little or no expectations of family participation. It’s noce if the parents have something to contribute but that’s optional. The public schools should be able to educate/train/place the students into the economy – that is their job to do so. And that means they schools need to get real on assessing the students, providing relevant programming and helping the students make the teansition into adulthood.

    I’d suggest they start with obedience training. OUSD needs to have a good helping of that also.

  • Anti Elitist

    I am deeply disturbed by the way in which many of these posts are blaming oppressed people for behaving oppressed. What makes you the authority on what “ghetto” parents want for their children? How on earth do you know whether underprivileged students have somehow chosen their circumstances? Have you considered that maybe they’ve just chosen to survive their circumstances? Do you even know a single person who has grown up in poverty and violence? How dare you comment on their priorities!

    The next time you brag about your over-privileged student’s academic abilities, ask yourself this: How would your same children behave in school if you had to be at work before they woke up and no one was able to be there to ask them deep questions in academic language (let alone feed them)? How well would they read if your whole paycheck went to pay the rent and keep the lights on, leaving nothing for books and supplies? How enthusiastic would your kids be about homework if their only babysitter had to be the TV (better than the lonely silence where every dispute and gun shot can be heard)? How motivated would they appear to a middle class teacher if they were traumatized night after night by the violence in their neighborhood? If they ate packaged junk food for breakfast, lunch and dinner because you didn’t have the resources to cook for them, and because Kraft told you it was healthy? If you never talked about college because no one ever talked to you about college? If they had no help on their homework because even if you could somehow find the energy after a ten hour physical labor shift and a two hour bus ride, you still couldn’t help because you didn’t know how? How would your kids perform under these typical “ghetto” circumstances? And how would you feel if elitist parents who’ve never spent a single night in such circumstances judged your priorities and values, or your child’s motivation?

  • Nextset

    Anti: You think the poor performers are “oppressed”. I say they are not. Whatever their problems are, oppression sure isn’t one of them. “Racism” is never the problem either.

    As far as your deep disturbance – Well I’m sure. Cling to any doctrine you want. I say poverty has nothing to do with performance but is only a reflection with that is wrong with them.

    And many poor performers are quite well fed, actually.

    I will give you that true proverty and true deprivation is on the way. Which is one reason we need to clean up our public school systems now and start to produce educated students (of all races) so they will have a better chance to survive in this Brave New World.

    We probably disagree on what is to be done to reform the schools. Ironclad discipline, segregation of the schools by aptitude and performance, world-class vocational education as well as academic programs tied to achievement not age, starting by age 12 – you know the sort of things that are common in Europe.

    I sure don’t care about their homes and their parents. Either the student carries the water at the school or they don’t – and they are out. Social work Should be left to social workers not teachers – and the schools should have a social worker component – just not in the classroom.

    Don’t get emotional because others don’t buy into your tired old dogma, you see, we’ve tried it your way for 50 years and your way doesn’t work. The other way does.

  • Nextset

    Sorry about the typos @ 4:06. My point was that the public schools must be full service – and not rely on the parents or families to get the kids educated/trained into adulthood. That means we need to have school nurses, counselors, social workers so that the teachers don’t have to do those jobs and can concentrate on adding value to the students through education, while other arms of the schools handle the remaining issues to keep the kids moving forward. Once our inner city schools had that and a school cafeteria. Our academic programs collapse if we keep the non-functioning students sitting in the classroom with normal kids – thus the need for “different” schools for the academic vs vocational students.

  • Anti Elitist

    This is supposed to be a blog about Oakland USD, not a platform for some racist to espouse doomsday theory and make inflamatory remarks!

    I know first hand of what I speak. Anyone who claims poverty and racism don’t affect schools has never ever set foot in a flatland school in Oakland and has no business commenting on that which they know NOT.

    Please stop talking about our kids as hypotheticals. They are real human beings who live, breathe, feel, and learn!

  • Nextset

    Anti: If you can’t stand public discourse that’s your problem. Oakland Unified School District has a lot of critical problems – I grew up and went to school through grad school in the East Bay – I have family there – and I worked there for years. I went to Oakland Tech for summer school. You don’t get to corner the market on concern for what is happening to the minority kids in the East Bay.

    You can learn something if you can pause crying “racism” (what a joke!) and start to get into basic economics – and exonomic history. You are probably younger that I am – and can learn a thing or two if you study the 20th Century History of the East Bay and it education systems.

    No matter what you or I think, time marches on. I believe your policy will feed more black children into the prison industry – and not as guards. I propose alternatives. What does your failed policy offer anyone? Tax increases and spending increases so we can have more of the same?

    Read my posts… and lump it. This is a dialog as the schools continue to decline. One thing about NCLB is that the never ending collection and posting of race reported stats is making it harder and harder to sweep this disaster under the rug.

    So tell us, Anti: What do you think will change the outcome for the black students? Or for that matter the Hispanic Students who like LA Unified will soon dominate OUSD to the exclusion of the other groups?

    Oh, and if you want “Oppressed” – talk about the Phillipine or VietNamese students and what they’ve been through. And compare their stats to the black students. The world does not revolve around the hard luck stories of the blacks – despite my own interests in reversing the tailspin.

  • Fancy Nancy

    What I think I understand the attorney to be saying is that, whatever the reason for non-performance equivalent to their performing peers, those students will lose out. This is just a fact of life. It is not blaming the victim, which is certainly improper, along with the fact that many from non-performing families have gone on and been successful performing people. My analogy comes from the language learning research of Neuro-Linguistics. Another analogy is that if a bird doesn’t learn its song from its mommy bird, it will never learn its song, and thus will fail to thrive including not finding a mate and reproducing its species. However, if a bird hears its song and learns its song from taperecordings, it will overcome this unfortunate but truthful fact about failure to thrive. My point was also about even if you do learn your song and “thrive” and do everything you are supposed to do to attain the status of performing, that even then societal social-economic structures will sometime prevent you from attaining the rewards that you expected. It is obvious that not all parents can go out and purchase hooked on preschool items and sit down every night with their student to ensure performance, however that is what it takes for the parent to make sure their kid performs.

  • Catherine

    Nextset: If we segregate the schools by aptitude and we see that a child we have placed in a school with a vocational track has become a stellar academic student how do we get him or her moved.

    I’m with you on tracking; however, I don’t trust Oakland Unified to keep up with these students who live past our wildest dreams when tracked into a low performing environment or whose parents used influence to get them “fast tracked” but we find out the child has little drive or ability.

    Then what?

  • Nextset

    Catherine: This morning my Paralegal was mentioning that the neighbor boy – age 18 – is enrolling in a private auto mechanic vocational school. The tuition seems like a lot of money to me. I know another 21 year old student who is halfway through a 18 month respiratory therapist program at $1000 a month/$18K total tuition. These kids should be getting more of this from public education.

    I know that a few of the Jr Colleges have Respiratory Therapy programs at modest tuition – but the private schools have most of that market it seems. Both these students had desultory high school experiences but will do fine in Vocational Programs. I say that because of my experiences with the voc schools (including Jr College Voc Ed) and their students.

    I really think the public schools can do a lot better with the working class students in getting them trained and placed into vocations – like in the UK – so that the very expensive private vocational schools aren’t the only way. Our high schools should have a huge vocational component covering half the students that feed them directly into union apprenticeships and Jr College vocational and other such programs.

    College prep makes sense for less than half the public school students and that program should be greatly de-emphasised in favor of vocational ed. Then maybe we wouldn’t have half the blacks (and large portions of the other ethnics) dropped out by 12th grade.

    As far as concern that students who might have made it through med school being dumped into barber college, I don’t see that as a problem. Self selection and individual choice prevents that. Too many immigrants coming from dirt floors to med school….

  • Sue

    Catherine, I’ve posed similar questions – what happens to the “late-bloomer” once they begin to bloom, if they got shuttled into the wrong category at the beginning of their school years?

    Having somewhat lived that, it’s a very real concern to me. Luckily for me, I didn’t get slammed into some sort of European-style system that wouldn’t let me change tracks. Our system still has flexibility (or had it 30-plus years ago when I was growing up) and I was able to get a college education once I’d matured enough to benefit from it.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Nextset has ever grasped the question. I gave up asking it, because I don’t think s/he is capable of considering the idea that not every individual matches his or her group norms. And Nextset has said many times on this forum that s/he is only interested in groups, not in individuals.

    When individual students don’t fit Nextset’s models, I’m afraid the only solution is going to be denying that these exceptions-to-the-rules exist at all. Everyone gets assigned in kindergarten – group A is already reading, group B recognizes their letters and numbers, group C does none of the above – and everyone will stay with their assigned group through the rest of school, and their entire adult/working lives. No exceptions.

    Brave New World, indeed.

  • Catherine

    I would have probably been in Nextset’s vocational track because of my parents’ backgrounds (a millright and a hairdresser) and because I went to nearly 30 different schools because of my parents breaking up and getting back together.

    However, like you Sue, I was lucky enough to have teachers recognize my abilities that came after I began to group my thoughts about moving so much. As many teachers assumed that I would turn out like my parents, or as one teacher put it she’ll probably be walking the streets or dead with her history, several teachers saw the spark. I think about those teachers, often, thank them in my mind more times than I can count.

    And, to everyone out there if anyone knows of a teacher named Diane Feinstein who taught in Walnut Creek, let her know that she was the finest teacher of all time.

  • Nextset

    Sue: You are right – when I speak of education policy I am interested in Groups and group outcomes. Individual outcomes are dependent on personal choice. Some of those choices are at the end of a stick wielded by parents, some are at the end of a checkbook wielded by grandparents. We have lots of room for choice in the US. You can choose to take calculus and pre-med classes – the vast majority refuse to do so for good reasons (for them).

    It is immoral for CA Schools to deliver the stats we bring in for the children in the large urban school districts such as LA Unified, Oakland, San Francisco and the other principal cities. Even worse to do what we are doing by claiming it was required so that a needle in the haystack might go to Cal and get a PhD in physics – impose college track on the whole district.

    I do believe that for the most part the cognitively gifted can take care of themselves and each other. The purpose of the public schools is to see to the needs of the working class. The public schools are the last line of defense before the working class and their children are left to Calcutta type generational poverty. These schools are there to make sure the proletariat kids can function in society at all as a citizen and a legal equal to the rest of society.

    I’m worried that the public schools don’t even teach the proles how to stay out of county jail, the county courts, county hospital (sanitation & disease issues). We no longer can count on the schools to teach conversational standard english, dress & deportment, and skills needed to get and keep a job. That must change.

    While I and all of my cousins and siblings went to public high school and got UC entrance requirements I fear the percentage of students doing so is shrinking. I don’t see any other “education” transmitted to compensate. I see huge percentages of CA public high school students dropping out and not passing graduation standards while the schools flounder. People drop put because it seems like the best thing to them to do at the time.

    Our schools can create a relevant program that is more attractive to the proletariat than dropping out and it doesn’t include Algebra 1-2. It should include the skills needed to excell in blue-collar, service work, and similar occupations, including above all behavioral skills.

    You are wrong to assume that any of this means we would deny poor people med school. I have too many Ethiopian and Vietnamese in-laws who came here with nothing as children not even speaking english – who made it into the professions – to fall for that. If you want to take the prerequisites and go for the professions with appropriate test scores there are schools for you, plain and simple. The people I speak of are the blacks and browns who languish in the schools and drop out in droves because the existing programs promise nothing for them in the short time spans they live their lives – month to month. We need to offer programming, month to month – in the urban schools.

    The families can pick college track or vocational – that’s their choice. But if you say you want college track you have to perform or go elsewhere. You can always comeback later after your late bloom.

    And “The Gap” is growing. I believe the size of the gap is due to sheer incompetence and neglect on the part of the Educrats. If (San Francisco’s) Delancey Street can take addicts and convicts and make something out of them the schools can do better with adolescents. But not with the permissiveness that infests the schools currently. We need scoring, sorting, language & math skills, with the rest of the voc ed program following that. Those that want college prep can opt for it – see if there’s a stampede.

  • Do Tell

    Nextset. Nextset, Nextset… My friend. Just the other day my Physician’s Assistant was telling me about the internet. Apparently it is a haven for people of all kinds to discuss all sorts of things. Ok, just kidding…

    Some of the points you make – about choice in education, the lack of vocational training in schools – are actually valid and interesting. This last post above me – it makes perfect sense. Not that I agree 100% but at least you’ve made your point without offending anyone. And it sounds like you actually care about the fate of these ‘groups’ of people on some level. But look further above. Your posts are erratic and frankly, you sound unhinged. Maybe you drink? It’s too bad the good points you make get lost in the mire of weirdness that reads like racism/determinism/crazy-talk. You will not win any fans with your ‘radical’ assessment of the proles and underclasses failure to thrive as indicator of sub-par intelligence. I suggest you go back to the drawing board to refine your messaging. Or just keep posting on the internet and get nothing done.

  • Nextset

    Do Tell : Your opinion – Mine is just as good. But you keep posting.

    We will all watch these numbers periodically on how the “Gap” is doing in CA.

    Some of the stream of thought on the blog is due to the jumping on the computer during the day in the middle of other things – and the difference between posters with different occupations. I often go on between crisis management here and there. During the day I work with very very troubled people. Sometimes the best outcome for them is still a bad outcome.

    You wonder if better education could have prevented much of the grief. I think if could have. But the people I see in the courts by and large – live life their way.

    And all the time I notice the difference between the haves and the have nots – although haves aren’t exactly wealthy. They do have health insurance and auto insurance though. The Gap is visible here too.

  • Nextset

    Do Tell: I don’t remember reading much about you – can you tell us something about your education & occupational experiences? It helps to understand your POV.

  • AC Mom

    Tracking is a very sticky issue when one considers how best to implement a vocational educational program, and one must consider flexibility.

    At the post secondary level there are opportunities to gain job specific/vocational skills. There are continuing education schools, adult schools, junior colleges, etc. I would propose that some of this coursework could and should be offered to persons at the high school level.

  • Nextset

    In most secondary school programs tracking can be self selected. Those who want college prep would select it by taking and passing prerequisites – such as reading at 8th grade level before starting 9th grade college track. This alone would greatly shrink the enrollment at a college track campus. Beyond that there would be deportment and class selection requirements – with expulsion from the program as the penalty for failure (at whatever cutoff is set for “failure”).

    Other programs could deselect people without overt administration action. At the Jr College level for example nursing programs require chemistry with a minimum grade prior to enrolling, Police Academy will not accept a candidate student with a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or any felony. There are many ways that people self steer into something suitable for them. People want more of things they are good at. People are willing to accept less comfort for something they want.

    The Calif Jr Colleges seem to be doing a lot of what the High Schools should be doing. They don’t have the problems the high schools do because they don’t run their campuses like romper room. My local Jr. College accepts certain High School students in their classes. Some of those students were kicked out when they didn’t make the transition behaviorally. This is a form of tracking.

    Has anyone looked into Achievement Gap stats for the CA Jr. Colleges?

  • Catherine

    There are teachers, one specifically at Fruitvale Elementary, who closes the GAP. We need to ask and observe the teachers who are able to close the GAP to hear and see how they do it.

    It’s amazing to me that you have poor children with parents who may or may not be involved in their child’s education and you have three teachers teaching the same grade, one teacher, year after year after year has a very small if no GAP and the other teachers have a very large GAP – what makes the difference?

    I think we don’t really want to know that the teachers need to have their classrooms open to students 1/2 hour or more before class starts and to have the room open to all children who want to study. I don’t think we want to know that we can’t fold up the school sidewalks 10 minutes after the final bell rings. I think we don’t want to hear that some students need to have Rosetta Stone English programs playing on walkmans that they can take home to practice.

    I think we don’t want to know what works if it means that we have to alter our hours, the way we have done things in Oakland for decades, come up against the teachers union or tell the principal that we are going to keep the halls open to students until 4:30 every day so that we can make ourselves available. We certainly don’t want to meet with parents at the school on weekends after they finish their two jobs that week to tell them how they can help their children – because, then we would have to do things differently.

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