In Pursuit of Equity and Excellence in Education Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D. Graduate School of Education Harvard University
Agenda • Understanding the achievement gap • Equity vs. excellence • Understanding our students • Designing systems of support for students • Addressing disparities in discipline • Impacting the quality of instruction
Equity vs. Excellence: Competing or Compatible Goals? • Equity - Equality of opportunity with attention to equality in results • Key Principle #1 - Unless we can challenge the normalization of failure, nothing will change • American education tends to be based upon competition and individualism • Triage approach to teaching results in focus on advanced students at expense of others • Political pressure influences priorities and allocation of resources
Shifting Paradigms: Focusing on all students • Schools often base their effectiveness on the performance of their most successful students • High achieving students are typically assigned to the best teachers, weaker students tend to be assigned to weaker teachers • Key principle #2 - Students who have less must be given more if they are going to have a chance to succeed.
What we know about student achievement • All students do learn, educators need to understand how they learn • Much of what students know is not recognized in school; over emphasis on deficits • We generally expect students to adapt to the instructional styles of their teachers • Remedial programs are often ineffective • Key principle #3 - students who are behind must work harder, longer and under conditions that offer possibility of success
Exceptions to Patterns:Immigrant Students • Tend to be over-represented among successful and at-risk students • Amount of prior learning in home culture is significant • Class and educational backgrounds of parents is significant • Socialization process may produce conflict for students
Tend to lack support at home - come with lower literacy skills Tend to live in high-stress environments Often provided ineffective support at school Likely to be labeled in ways that reinforce problematic behavior More likely to internalize labels, vulnerable to adult expectations Behavior problems often overshadow academic problems Punishment alone does not help Need to find ways to promote resilience Need structure and support At-Risk Students
More likely to receive intellectual and material support at home May require less structure at school May be less teacher dependent and even “teacher proof” More likely to have clear goals and to be self motivated Generally get the most and best resources in school More likely to get bored unless stimulated and challenged Need to develop intrinsic motivation Master the “game of school” easily What we Know About High Achievers
Reflection: • Key principle # 4 - By knowing more about our students we will be in a better position to serve them well. • Key Questions: • What is the profile of students who fail at your school? Race, class, neighborhood. • What strategies are in place to address their needs? How effective are these interventions? • What are your students interested in? How do they spend their time outside of school? How do they learn? • How do you go about identifying talent and potential?
Developing systems of support for students • Step 1: Analyze the academic data • Diagnostic data • Grades and test scores • Disaggregated by race, ses, teacher • Course enrollment patterns • Attendance and attrition • Discipline patterns
Step II. Analyze the organization of your school • Key Questions: • How are students and teachers assigned to courses? • Which ones are your gate keeper courses? • What obstacles and barriers prevent students from attaining access to advanced courses? • Where can students get help if they need it? • How is information related to preparation for college made available to students and parents?
Step III. Analyze the culture of your school • Key Principle #5 - Changing the organization of a school will not necessarily change the culture; changing culture is more important • Key Questions: • What is the mission of your school? What are its values? How are these conveyed? • How are relationships between students and adults promoted and maintained? Which students are most likely to slip through the cracks or be ignored? • How would you characterize relationships between adults at your school? Is your staff willing to help each other, students, or the school? • Is your school safe? Do students and teachers feel supported?
Other data you may need • Survey data from students, teachers, parents • Focus group data for specialized groups • Exit interviews from teachers or students who leave your school • Use pattern data - to determine which constituencies make most use of school resources
Step IV. Use Data to Plan and Implement Change • Key Principle #1 - Unless you can challenge the normalization of failure change is not possible. • Arrange for public discussions of the data • Use meetings to solicit ideas for other research strategies • Involve parents and students - systems of mutual accountability • Use the data to plan with community agencies to develop coordinate delivery systems • Avoid blame, keep it constructive by focusing on the goal - increased achievement
Systems Continued • Make use of data to set benchmarks • to guide reforms and develop strategies for intervention • to evaluate existing intervention programs • Designate team to monitor patterns • Identify partners in the local community that can assist the school in achieving its goals (e.g churches, non-profits, local businesses) • Utilize supplemental resources: after-school and community-based programs • Maintain focus on quality control
Reflection: • Key Principle #6 - Quality counts, and reforms that are not based upon efforts to improve quality will not work. • Key Questions: • What it will take for your school or district to develop systems for raising student achievement • What data will you need? • Who will collect and analyze it? • How will you present it to staff, parents, students?
Interventions that work • AVID, Young Black Scholars • Accelerated summer school • Upward Bound, MESA • Transition classes, Puente • Project SEED • Coordinated services • See Effective Programs for Students at Risk by Slavin, Karweit and Wasik (1989) Boston: Allyn and Bacon and “Promising Programs for Eelementary and Middle Schools: Evidence of Effectiveness and Replicability” by Fashola and Slavin Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 2(3), 251-307, 1997
Disparities in Discipline • Which students are most frequently disciplined? • What are the patterns with respect to race, class, gender • What is the academic profile of disciplined students • How do teachers/administrators use referrals? • What are the strategies used by teachers who give the fewest referrals? • How effective are discipline practices? • Is discipline for punishment or learning?
Classroom Management • Key Principle #7 - Intellectual engagement is key to an orderly classroom • Passive learning is difficult for some students, need active engagement • Constructive noise, music and movement are ok • Low achievers are frequently most likely to disrupt learning environment - must identify causes • Must address learning needs • Must address self esteem and sense of competence • Treat removal from classroom as last resort, not first
Classroom Management Continued • Need for fairness and consistency in application of rules and punishments • Consider alternative forms of punishment • Extra work • Retribution to victims • Community service • Address the values and ethics underlying the rules - moral responsibility
Insuring Academic Excellence • Align instructional strategies to state standards and assessments • Teaching and Learning must be linked: Teachers must constantly look for evidence of learning • Support and encourage students to take advanced courses • Develop intrinsic motivation to learn - discuss the purpose of education with students
Demystify school success • Teach study skills • Start from the end: show and explain what excellent work looks like • Provide intensive academic counseling for students and parents • Discuss future plans early and expose students to options
Impacting the classroom: Building strong links between teaching and learning • Key Ingredients • Diagnostic assessment • Reflective teaching • On-site and continuous professional development • Mentoring • Effective evaluation • Effective use of staff meetings • Effective use of homework
Reflection: How can we learn from student work? • What does good work look like? • What patterns do you observe? • What are the implications for teaching?
Effective Teaching Strategies for Reducing Academic Disparities • Active learning, interactive classroom • Moving away from the cemetery model • Teaching within the zone of proximal development • Constructivist, inquiry-based pedagogical strategies • Simulations • Socratic seminars • Project based learning • Experiential learning • Student leadership in the classroom • Public presentations of student work