The OECD has released the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results. Visit our collection of resources to help you interpret them in context.
Granger High School in Washington State has garnered national attention for its remarkable journey from bad to great. Most Granger students come from low-income families working on farms in the surrounding Yakima Valley. Many are children of migrant workers. In 2001, Granger was plagued by gang violence, low morale and an astronomical dropout rate. Now more than 95% of Granger students graduate, and almost 90% go on to college or technical school. (See our story about Granger here.)
Granger principal Paul Chartrand recently spoke with me about the critical work of sustaining the trend. The overriding message I took away from our conversation: Forge strong personal connections with students and their families.
Sustaining the Turnaround Trend
Public School Insights: Granger High School has been described by quite a few people as a real turnaround story. Do you think that is a fair description?
Chartrand: I do think it’s a fair description. My predecessor, Richard Esparza, really started the turnaround. I took over last year, and we are trying to continue the trend. We have been successful in a couple of areas, and we are still working on it in ...
author extraordinaire Larry Ferlazzo recently published a gem of a little article on teacher home visits. He writes about the impact of his own efforts to visit students’ families and calls for much more extensive home visit programs. One story he recounts jumps out at me:
Immigrant parents whom I visited developed the idea of having our school provide computers and home Internet access so that entire families could have more opportunities to study English. I was not only able to learn what these parents thought would help their children and themselves; down the line, I was also able to help other parents who had the same interest connect with each other and help us develop a plan of action.
As a result, the Luther Burbank High School Family Literacy Project has produced dramatic English-assessment gains for students and was the Grand Prize winner of the International Reading Association Presidential Award For Reading and Technology.
I like this story, because it turns a common assumption on its head. Teachers are not coming to parents as missionaries converting the unenlightened. Instead, they are forging strong partnerships with parents, discovering shared aspirations ...
A couple of weeks ago, I threw a hissy fit over the influence of marketing and the media on young people’s academic habits. Afterwards, I received a couple of emails laying the blame for poor academic habits at parents’ feet. If parents weren’t missing in action, the argument went, young people would be less disruptive and more invested in school. I’m not sure it’s as simple as that.
A new British study of parenting is suggestive. It found that parents are more likely to spend time with their children and monitor their children’s activities that they were twenty years ago. The researchers speculate that that youth behavior problems in the UK reflect--you guessed it--“the influence of youth culture.”
Yes, this is a study of British families. Yet I wonder if we would find similar trends in the United States. American author Michael Chabon recently went so far as to lament the encroachment of adults on the time-honored freedoms of childhood:
The Wilderness of Childhood is gone; the days of adventure are past. The land ruled by children, to which a kid might exile himself for at least some portion of every day from the neighboring kingdom of adulthood, has in large part been taken over, co-opted, colonized, and finally absorbed by the neighbors.
Surely Chabon has a point. Thirty years ago, I made a daily ten-block trek--alone and on foot--to my elementary school. Try to do that now, even in the nation’s most well-heeled suburbs, and your parents will probably get a visit from child protective services. Many children seem to have little time away from adults. This ...
Things are happening in Mobile.
The Alabama district mounted an innovative public engagement campaign early this decade, and student performance has been rising ever since.
Though the district has a larger share of low-income students than does Alabama as a whole, it boasts higher scores on state assessments. We recently profiled two very successful Mobile County public elementary schools—George Hall and Mary B. Austin—on our Success Stories Page.
Last week, we caught up with Mary B. Austin principal Jacquelyn Zeigler, who has worked with dedicated staff and parents to narrow achievement gaps dramatically. She described the ingredients of her success:
Public School Insights: We've heard a lot about Mary B. Austin School, but I thought I'd give you an opportunity to say in your own words what kind of a school it is. Describe the sort of students you serve.
Jacquelyn Zeigler: There are no -- or very few -- new families coming in. So to keep my doors open, 80 percent of the children are on transfer. We get them from all over Mobile County. And because of that, we are right at 50/50 boy/girl, 50/50 black/white, and about 34 percent free and reduced [lunch program]. We have a wonderful cross-section of society.
Right across the street is Springfield College, and then just down the street is the University of South Alabama, so I'm very fortunate because I am able to get their student teachers and their interns; a lot of the volunteers to come and work with my ...
Writing commentaries on the best use of stimulus funds has become a thriving cottage industry. Don’t fund the status quo! the general argument runs. Fund innovation instead!
I’m beginning to wonder if we should start using the word “improvement” instead of innovation. This strategy might help us counter the tendency of some innovation zealots to value novelty over quality.
Former IBM CEO Louis Gerstner offered an egregious example of that tendency late last year, when he advocated the abolition of all but the largest school districts. To him, innovation seems to mean doing something drastic and doing it now. ...
Editor's note: In the final of a series of four guest blogs on how teachers view parent involvement and engagement in public education, Renee Moore responds to Larry Ferlazzo's distinction: Parent Involvement or Parent Engagement?
Earlier today, we published Larry's response to Renee's posting, How Much Parent Involvement Do Educators Really Want?
Larry’s thoughtful distinction between “involvement” and “engagement” of parents is more than just semantics. We agree that the attitude of educators toward parents significantly determines the quality of response we can expect. For a more detailed look at the dynamics of trust in parent/ school relations, read the book Trust in Schools (Bryk and Schneider, 2002).
Larry is also right (as numerous studies and our own teaching experiences show) that any level of school/community/parent cooperation produces some positive effect on student achievement. My concern is that ...
Editor's note: Over the few days, we have published guest postings by Renee Moore and Larry Ferlazzo on how teachers view parent engagement in public schools. Today, Larry responds to Renee's posting.
Renee’s point about how teachers are intimately involved with parents on a day-to-day basis outside of school in her rural area is a good one. In many (if not most?) urban schools, teachers never see parents (or their students) in a non-school situation since most of us don’t live in the same communities where we teach.
I’d say that rural-urban difference emphasizes the particular need for urban schools to embrace home-visiting by teachers and/or other types of “engagement” efforts. The personal trust that parents have for Renee and her colleagues in their rural community, I think, is less likely to occur in ...
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of guest blogs on how teachers view parent engagement and involvement in public schools. Yesterday, Renee Moore offered her perspective on how much parent involvement educators really want. Today, Larry Ferlazzo shares his thoughts on the difference between parent involvement and parent engagement.
“When it comes to a breakfast of ham and eggs, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed.”
This old saying is roughly analogous to the issue facing schools today as they consider the kind of relationships they want to build with the parents of their students. I would characterize it as a difference between parent involvement (the chicken) and parent engagement (the pig). I first become aware of this contrast through a study of organizing work by the Industrial Areas Foundation in Texas schools. Boston College professor Dennis Shirley wrote about the IAF’s decades-long efforts in his 1997 book Community Organizing For Urban School Reform.
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines involvement as “to enfold or envelop.” It defines engagement as “to interlock with; to mesh.” Those definitions get to the crux of the difference. When schools involve parents they are leading with ...
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of four guest blogs on how teachers view parent engagement and involvement in public schools. Stay tuned for a contribution from teacher-blogger Larry Ferlazzo.
I grew up in a big city and graduated from a magnet high school that had 5,000 students. My teachers barely knew who I was, much less who my parents were. How different from the Mississippi school districts where I’ve taught for nearly two decades. The total population of one town was just under 2,000, and half of them were students in our schools.
Parent involvement takes on a very different meaning when I see the parents of my students every week ringing me up in the grocery store, rinsing me out at the beauty shop, tuning up my car at the local garage, or delivering my mail. I worship with them, bowl with them, sit in the waiting rooms with them. I know them, and they trust me.
Trust is the issue with most parents. Here in the Delta, over 40% of the adults are illiterate; others have ...
Robert Pondiscio at the Core Knowledge blog recently summed up the findings of a new study on the impact of family conflict on student achievement:
Children from troubled families perform “considerably worse” on standardized reading and mathematics tests and are much more likely to commit disciplinary infractions and be suspended than other students, according to a new study. Writing in Education Next, Scott Carrell of UC-Davis and the University of Pittsburgh’s Mark Hoekstra offer evidence that “a single disruptive student can indeed influence the academic progress made by an entire classroom of students.”
Robert adds his own thoughtful interpretation of the study's ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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