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Achievement and Under -achievement: A sorry tail?. Professor Martyn Rouse The long tail of underachievement: Some key questions. Why is there concern about underachievement? Who underachieves or gets excluded? Why does it happen? What are the consequences?

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Achievement and Under -achievement:

A sorry tail?

Professor Martyn Rouse

the long tail of underachievement some key questions
The long tail of underachievement: Some key questions
  • Why is there concern about underachievement?
  • Who underachieves or gets excluded?
  • Why does it happen?
  • What are the consequences?
  • Why focus on achievement AND inclusion?
  • What is being done to close the achievement gap and to increase participation?
why achievement and inclusion the broader context
Why achievement and inclusion? The broader context
  • International comparisons of participation and achievement for different groups of children
    • PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)
    • TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study)
    • PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study)
why achievement and inclusion the broader context1
Why achievement and inclusion? The broader context
  • The role of schooling in achieving public and private human, economic and social development goals:
    • Social cohesion and inclusion
    • Security and safety
    • Prosperity
    • Subjective well-being
  • In the context of:
    • International competitiveness
    • Globalisation and migration
    • New patterns of employment
why achievement and inclusion
Why achievement and inclusion?
  • Many countries have groups of children who are excluded and/or underachieve
  • This leads to long term economic and social consequences for all of us
  • The economic and social returns from education are complex….but:
    • There are clear links between poor educational outcomes, poverty and additional support needs
    • Tackling underachievement and exclusion is the right thing to do, it makes sound economic and social sense
    • This is an international movement
who underachieves or is not included
Who underachieves or is not included?
  • In UK it’s associated with ASN/SEN (especially behaviour), class, poverty, ethnicity, language, gender, mobility and ‘looked after children’
    • See:
      • ‘More choices,more chances’
      • Quality and Equity of Schooling in Scotland (OECD 2007)
      • Others international studies (PISA, PIRLS)
      • UNICEF study, Children’s well-being in rich countries.
where do we stand
Where do we stand?
  • The highest achieving pupils in the UK compare with the best in the world
  • Scotland does better than England ….BUT
  • The UK has one of the longest tails of underachievement in the developed world
  • Scotland has high levels of disengagement from education post 15
  • The UK is at the bottom of international comparisons of ‘children’s well-being’
what are the causes
What are the causes?
  • An emphasis on sorting, sifting and predicting
  • School structures
    • Streaming, banding and setting
  • Inequalities within and between schools
    • Who gets the ‘best’ teachers?
    • Who gets the ‘best’ students?
  • High poverty students/ low achieving pupils are more likely to get less experienced/less well qualified teachers
  • Resource inequality leads to an ‘opportunity gap’
causes continued
Causes: continued
  • Competing policy initiatives
    • How are schools judged?
    • Whose achievement is valued?
    • How is achievement assessed, recorded and reported?
    • What kinds of achievement are valued?
  • School cultures and reward systems
  • High and low status work
  • Attitudes, beliefs and stigma
    • “Us and them” ……..worthy and unworthy children
  • But where do these notions come from?
    • Embedded beliefs about social class?
    • Reinforced by the media?
    • The need to classify, categorise and pathologise?
    • Beliefs about human differences?
some consequences of bell curve thinking
Some consequences of ‘bell curve thinking’
  • Focus on the measurable
  • Reification
  • Unwarranted status because of its elegant mathematics
  • Makes it difficult to demonstrate learning
  • Comparisons with inappropriate populations
  • Leads to beliefs about ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ people
  • Deterministic thinking about learning
  • Limits expectations
  • Associated with the notion of prediction and POTENTIAL
consequences continued
Consequences: continued
  • Intergenerational low aspirations
    • When translated into school level expectations
  • The achievement gap leads to an educational debt across generations for certain groups
    • Think of the ways in which the annual trade gap leads to the national debt across the years
  • Used to justify streaming, tracking, ‘leveling’ and FAILURE
  • Leads to negative social, emotional and behavioural outcomes
why confusion about assessment
Why confusion about assessment?
  • Lack of clarity about the purposes and nature (especially ASN)
  • Beliefs about the predictive power of testing
  • No shared meanings for concepts of…….ability, aptitude, attainment, achievement, standards, and potential
  • Lack of understanding about the differences between formative, summative and ipsative assessment
  • AND between norm-referenced and criterion referenced assessment
it s not all bad news what s been achieved with achievement and inclusion
It’s not all bad news: what’s been achieved with achievement and inclusion?
  • Real progress in some schools, BUT problems remain
  • Inclusion does NOT necessarily have a negative impact on the achievement of others
  • Some schools are inclusive AND high achieving
  • Getting it right for children who find learning difficult, brings benefits for all
  • Schools which add the greatest ’value’ often serve the most disadvantaged communities
what are they doing
What are they doing?
  • Recruiting and retaining good teachers
  • Reviewing and clarifying roles
  • Investing in support for teachers as well as students
  • Believing that all children can learn
  • Defining achievement broadly
  • Recognising that learning takes place outside school
    • Connecting with the community
  • Getting involved in collaborative research
  • Providing meaningful alternatives
  • Using the curriculum flexibly to keep pupils connected
what are they doing1
What are they doing?
  • Connecting pupils and families to the school
    • Creative arts
    • Extra curricular activities
    • Peer tutoring
    • Homework clubs
    • Learning mentors
    • Community outreach
    • Quality vocational education
  • Raising aspirations and expectations
  • Redefining additional support…the current definition:

‘provision which is additional to, or otherwise different from, the educational provision made generally for children……’

redefining additional support
Redefining additional support
  • Enhancing what is ‘generally available’ by using the principles of universal design
  • Dealing with difference from the outset
  • Recognising that inclusion is not a denial of difference
  • Not waiting for ‘failure’ before intervening
  • Developing inclusive pedagogy and systems of assessment that recognise progress
  • Focusing on learning, teaching and participation
  • Developing skills for working with other adults
    • Classroom assistants
    • Voluntary sector
    • Parents
a framework for participation
A framework for participation
  • Participation and access (being there)
  • Participation and diversity (recognition and acceptance)
  • Participation and collaboration (learning and working together)
  • Participation and achievement (recognising and celebrating progress)

Adapted from: Black-Hawkins, K., Florian, L. & Rouse,M. (2007) Achievement and Inclusion in Schools. London: Routledge