« Thinktank Thursday a Day Late: Madonna x Mike Petrilli="Like a Student" | Main | No Cape for Cantor »

New York City Achievement Gap Round-Up: Three Cheers for Our Naked Emperor!

| 15 Comments
NYC-New-Clothes.jpg
A child, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the carriage. "The Emperor is naked," he said.

"Fool!" his father reprimanded, running after him. "Don't talk nonsense!" He grabbed his child and took him away. But the boy's remark, which had been heard by the bystanders, was repeated over and over again until everyone cried: "The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It's true!"

The Emperor realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He thought it better to continue the procession under the illusion that anyone who couldn't see his clothes was either stupid or incompetent.
- Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor's New Clothes
If you've been reading over the course of this week, perhaps you, too, now realize that New York City's emperor, much as he likes to travel across the land saying that he's significantly narrowed the achievement gap in New York City, is wearing no clothes.

The achievement gap has not narrowed at all in math for any grade level or subject.

Nor has the achievement gap narrowed at all in reading for any grade level or subject.

So perhaps it is time for us to rethink the reform strategy in New York City, and ask some difficult questions about why this strategy has not narrowed the gap between white and Asian students and their African-American and Hispanic peers. K-12 schools are in a tough spot when African-American students show up at kindergarten testing at the 35th percentile of the white distribution in reading and the 25th percentile in math. They are even further disadvantaged by racial inequalities in how students' out of school time is spent. Remember, kids only spend 22% of their waking hours between kindergarten and 12th grade in school.

We can and should push and support schools to do better. But all of the pushing we've seen in New York City has amounted to no change in the size of the achievement gap. Why should we expect anything different from the reforms proposed by the Educational Equality Project, which has taken New York City's reforms as something of a blueprint?

Bottom line: if we want to close the achievement gap, it will not happen by schools alone. Let's ask schools to do better, but let's also be realistic about how far those efforts will take us. Unfortunately for New York City's black and Hispanic kids, these efforts have left them as far behind their white and Asian peers as they were 5 years ago.
15 Comments

Good summary of the state of the situation with the test scores; but I disagree with the thrust of your argument and conclusions. You write:

"We can and should push and support schools to do better. But all of the pushing we've seen in New York City has amounted to no change in the size of the achievement gap. ... Bottom line: if we want to close the achievement gap, it will not happen by schools alone. Let's ask schools to do better, but let's also be realistic about how far those efforts will take us."

This assumes that we all agree that the specific educational reforms adopted by this administration are those that are most likely to narrow the achievement gap. But this is a totally unwarranted assumption – esp. as they have resisted trying the only strategy, along w/ increasing access to preK, that has worked elsewhere: reducing class size.

Until every NYC school has classes as small or smaller than those in the suburbs or in private schools, and facilities and after school programs just as good, why should we give up on the ability of schools to substantially narrow the achievement gap?

It’s likely that other measures will be needed to close the gap entirely, but I think your argument is weak unless you assume the Bloomberg/Klein agenda was really the one most likely to succeed. In fact, I think from the beginning, it was an agenda that was most likely to fail.

Not being a New Yorker, I realize that I'm not really sure what -- if any -- specific educational reforms (as opposed to organizational and governance reforms) are supposed to have brought about this success.

Is anything specifically different going on in classrooms now, or is the idea that increased accountability focuses peoples attention and makes them try harder?

Until every NYC school has classes as small or smaller than those in the suburbs or in private schools, and facilities and after school programs just as good, why should we give up on the ability of schools to substantially narrow the achievement gap?

If you're hanging all of your dreams on the dynamic of smaller classes inducing poorly performing students to catch up to their peers then you are either a.) unfamiliar with the literature on this subject, or b.) a dreamer.

The problem of the achievement gap has little to do with what teachers do, for the roots of the gap are already measurable in 3 years olds, long before teachers get to impart their influence, and long before peers, media messages, full day kindergarten, etc are even in the picture:


The Influence of Race on 3-Year-Old Children's Performance on the Stanford-Binet: Fourth Edition.

The influence of race on IQ was studied with 33 European American and 33 African American 3-year olds matched for several characteristics. Findings of a difference favoring European Americans support the Spearman hypothesis that group performance differences on subtests are related to the "g" loadings of the test.

It’s likely that other measures will be needed to close the gap entirely

Exactly what measures do you have in mind? No measures yet tried have been shown to work. Do you know of some measures that all those interested in this topic have seemingly overlooked?

I agree with Leonie Halmson: the reforms adopted by the current administration are not likely to reduce the gap. And it also is obvious that large classes are a real problem.

But what about doing the obvious first – how about more money for libraries? The evidence in favor of improving libraries is overwhelming, and is consistently ignored by nearly everybody.

Studies show that children of poverty have very little access to books, given access to interesting and comprehensible reading material, most children read, and when they read their reading, writing, spelling, grammar and vocabulary get better. And of course we know that children of poverty score lowest on reading tests. Gerald Bracey has shown that when we control for poverty, American children look good on international reading tests: Poverty/access to books is at the core of the problem.

Our recent research (with Syying Lee and Jeff McQuillan) shows that library quality is a significant predictor of reading test scores, even when we control for poverty. This is true in the US (NAEP scores) and is true of the PIRLS test, given fourth graders in 40 different countries.

Clearly, children of poverty, the lower scorers, need more access to books.

Despite the powerful research, it seems that we are always ready to consider any other possibility other than libraries.

Stephen Krashen

Great series, Eduwonkette. Thanks for analyzing the data behind NAEP and the claims that Bloomberg & Klein have made about cutting the achievement gap in half, which did not happen.
The Schott Foundation just released a report on high school graduation rates, showing that the black male graduation rate in NYC is 32%, compared to a white male graduation rate of 57%--and the gap has grown since last year.
Fact is that the Mayor and Chancellor have no educational program. They have only a program of incentives and sanctions, with no educational component.
As you have shown, it's not working.
Diane Ravitch

What will work?

One of the aspects of the ed reform styled by Klein/Sharpton/Rhee/Finn/Broad/Gates is by focusing on accountability at the school and classroom level and the narrowest measures of such accountability through high stakes testing is a shift in focus and a distraction from building a political movement demanding full funding for education, in particular the urban and rural areas in most need.

Even liberals talk about the lack of money while ignoring the enormous sums that magically appeared for the Iraq war and corporate bailouts. It will take a refusal to accept there is no money for class size reduction and the other things that must go with it- like Tango Man says, addressing issues way before children enter school.

Maybe not surprising when corporate America is a main force in pushing these goals. Thus we see all the competitive models as solutions: school choice, merit pay, other incentives, principals as CEO's, people running schools without ed backgrounds using business principals, etc.

And the major focus on teacher quality, attacks on tenure, unions, etc. Note how we ignore the failures of school systems where there is no teacher tenure or strong unions.

And the manipulation of data that we also see in the corporate world.

Note the major differences in how large urban school systems are treated as opposed to suburban schools. It was recently pointed out that 96% of America get to vote for school boards and on their budgets. Suburbs have large comprehensive high schools, few charter schools, no attemtps to offer teachers merit pay, would never hire a Joel Klein or Michelle Rhee to run their schools, etc.

I do not accept the idea of judging things solely on whether they worked or did not work. We know that the Klein model won't work but even if it did - and again, that judgement would be on the narrowest grounds of test scores as opposed to giving all children the kind of education that would make them knowledgeable and informed citizens in a democratic state who are capable of understanding and avoiding the kind of demagoguery we are witnessing.

Stephen,

Studies show that children of poverty have very little access to books, given access to interesting and comprehensible reading material, most children read, and when they read their reading, writing, spelling, grammar and vocabulary get better.

I'm with you up to this point - enriching an environment allows the raw material, in this case the child's intellect, to develop more fully than if the child was in a stunted environment. Forcing kids to read will yield positive effects early in their childhood.

Poverty/access to books is at the core of the problem.

Here's where we part company in that access to books is really not the CORE of the problem, it's merely a significant exacerbating problem. In fact, even poverty isn't the independent variable. The independent variable of IQ is the BEST predictor of living in poverty. IQ is also highly heritable. So, kids born to parents in poverty, while certainly dealing with the effects of poverty, are also dealing with the genetic inheritance their parents passed on to them. That, in fact, is the core of the problem. Access to books will certainly enrich their environment and allow them the easiest path to reaching their potential but access to books is not a total equalizer that solves this problem.

Norm,

Thus we see all the competitive models as solutions: school choice, merit pay, other incentives, principals as CEO's, people running schools without ed backgrounds using business principals, etc.

Despite the shortcomings of this approach keep in mind that it is still an improvement over the status quo that this approach is attempting to replace - embedded bureaucracy modeled on a static industrial labor relations model. As for people without ed backgrounds running schools using business principles, that's a far better alternative than people with ed backgrounds running schools, for a.) there is little in the graduate education curriculum which develops talent in enterprise management because the focus is mostly on education theory; and b.) the business world has had centuries to develop enterprise management techniques and to winnow out kooky practices and when compared to the sorry history of fads that have permeated education management, really, the last thing we should want is professional educators implementing their enterprise management ideas on a captive audience of kids, especially when the stakes are so high for the kids.

And the major focus on teacher quality, attacks on tenure, unions, etc.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with these tactics if you keep in mind that the purpose of education is to serve the interests of children, not teachers. I can understand an ineffective teacher being threatened by efforts to improve teacher quality or to weaken the union that protects that teacher, but how are the interests of the child served by keeping an ineffective teacher on the job?

And the manipulation of data that we also see in the corporate world.

While there is certainly no excuse for the data manipulation, at least the data is available for researchers and bloggers who can strip away the obfuscations and present evidence of the reality on the ground. This is a vast improvement to the way things used to be when educators ran the system in accordance to their whims, that is, they buried the data and outsiders had a very difficult time discerning the true nature of what was transpiring in the system.

I do not accept the idea of judging things solely on whether they worked or did not work.

Well, in this respect you're marching to the beat of a different drummer. Most of society doesn't much like sticking with strategies that are proven failures. Good luck in convincing the rest of us that we should stick with doing things that don't work.

. . . as opposed to giving all children the kind of education that would make them knowledgeable and informed citizens in a democratic state who are capable of understanding and avoiding the kind of demagoguery we are witnessing.

You think that such an approach exists? Where can we find it? What are the details?

Norm,
Given access to interesting and comprehensible books, we don't have to force children to read. The research strongly suggests they will read. Contrary to popular opinion, children and teenagers like to read. I will be happy to post references to the research.
Even if IQ exists, and even if it is inherited, both empirical questions, the environment is so powerful it is our obligation to make it as rich as we can. Improving libraries is a very low-cost investment that has the potential for doing a tremendous amount of good. Research supports it, case histories support it, common sense supports it. Why is there so little enthusiasm for it? Maybe because nobody makes money on it, except good authors?
Again, I will be happy to post the research.

Sorry my message was directed at tangoman's argument. It would be a lot easier if contributers gave their names. Mine is:
Stephen Krashen

Given access to interesting and comprehensible books, we don't have to force children to read. The research strongly suggests they will read. Contrary to popular opinion, children and teenagers like to read. I will be happy to post references to the research.

I'm not disagreeing with the substance of your point, just the degree of significance to attach to it.

Even if IQ exists, and even if it is inherited, both empirical questions

Both answered to overwhelming degree. The only source of error embedded in the issue is with respect to the constructed psychometric measurements of the underlying physical phenomena. Even so, the psychometric measurements result in some of the highest correlations in many studies on life outcomes. So please, let's put to bed the fiction that IQ means nothing.

the environment is so powerful

The environment can indeed be powerful, but it's best to keep in mind that environment is only half the picture. Think computer hardware and software. Hardware is genetics and software is environment. To fully exploit the power of Windows Vista one can't run it on a 10 year old laptop:


According to the APA, standardised measures of intelligence correlate at levels of .50 with school performance, .55 with years of schooling, .54 with work performance, and –.19 with juvenile delinquency. No other psychological variable is capable of producing these correlations.

One can't ignore the significance of such correlations. As I acknowledge, environment is powerful, but it is incorrect to assign it too much significance when we study issues such as those presented in this discussion.

it is our obligation to make it as rich as we can.

That's a very normative position to take. We don't live in a society of infinite resources, so our obligations to public goods must always come with acknowledgement of limits. That said, the cutting back of library resources does strike me as a foolish trade-off, in that it, in my opinion at least, diminishes the influence of the activity of reading and inflates the influence of the teaching of reading. Trading off resources (teachers, teacher's aides, remedial classes) from the teaching side and diverting them towards the activity side, actual reading of actual books in an on-site library, might well improve the reading and writing performance of many students.

Why is there so little enthusiasm for it? Maybe because nobody makes money on it, except good authors?

One librarian might replace more than one teacher, plus support staff, plus displace budgets spent on helping poor readers, etc.
Again, I will be happy to post the research.

I'd like to see that "research," but please separate them into three groups.

Group 1: Research having a control group. The groups should be performing at about the 20th percentile, where the average low-SES student performs. The control group should be taught using similar methods as the experimental group. Preferrably, the only difference between the groups should be the amount of books available to both groups. The experiment should last at least a year. The testing instrument of reading ability should be a standard measure. The effect size should be at least 0.25.

Group 2: Research not meeting the limitations of group 1, but having a control group and a calculated p or 0.05 or less.

Group 3. Everything else.

Response to kderosa
1. Very easy to meet the requirements of group 1 with research showing the impact of reading itself. Please check out my website, sdkrashen.com, section on free voluntary reading, for reviews.
2. For access, the research has been correlational but multivariate. Too bad you put this in group 3, which includes everything. Google "Keith Curry Lance" for some of it, see Jeff McQuillan's book The Literacy Crisis: False Claims and Real Solutions, and I will be happy to send current studies. My e mail is [email protected]

SK, there are a lot of references in that section, the first dozen links I read don't appear to be research of thetype I was looking for. Could you just point me to the best study that proves your point and I'll take it from there.

The problem with the correlational studies, multivariate or otherwise, is that they cannot answer the question we are interested in having answered, namely, will providing increased access to books result in increased student achievement. Thed correlational studies are deficient because we don't know which way the causation runs. increased access to books may be causing the increased performance, or the increased performance may be causing the increased access to books, or some third variable may be causing both the increased access and increased peformance.

Kderosa, I think we are the last ones standing in this narrowing discussion. Please send me your e mail and we can continue it privately. Mine is [email protected]

HELLO, TEACHERS AS DREAM KEEPERS: GOOD-BYE “BIGOTRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS”

By Phyllis C. Murray

“Commencement at Morehouse College is a time of tradition and celebration -
but perhaps more so this year. Amid lamentations about the dearth of black men
in higher education, Morehouse graduated its largest class ever - nearly 600
educated African American men. No other institution in the world can match this
impressive number.” Morehouse College 2006

What has created this success story? How does this academic institution continue its legacy of excellence for over one hundred years? And how is this institution able to produce such impressive alumni as: Martin Luther King, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Lerone Bennett, Shelton “Spike” Lee, Dr. David Satcher, Maynard Jackson, Attorney Tyrone Means, Julian Bond, and James Nabrit from ever strata of society.

Perhaps the difference is that someone had a dream for each one of these men before they could dream. That someone might have been a teacher. And once the student reached Morehouse, “From the first day on campus, he was told he was destined for greatness and could achieve no less.” Errin Hehmen AP

There are teachers today, who like pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1950), have “invested in a human soul “knowing that “it could be a diamond in the rough.” Because true educators know that diamonds, like our students, come in every hue.

Michael Lomax, UNCF believes in the myriad possibilities of making miracles happen in classrooms. Also when he said: “There is this beacon out there that says if you create a challenging, demanding, yet nurturing and supportive environment, if you show these young men the possibilities and you discipline them to realize those possibilities, you can turn these statistics about black men around.” It is obvious that the “bigotry of low expectations” and “benign neglect” have no place in our classrooms or nation.

Surely, there are programs which earnestly address the Plight of the African American Male in Education: Programs which provide residents with a stone of hope toward removing the growing mountain of despair which plagues our nation. These programs provide our nation with the process for change indeed worthy of much praise and emulation. And that new trend: an infusion of exemplary programs which are already in place within Westchester High Schools which work daily, toward ameliorating an insidious problem which left unchecked negatively impacts society.

The Woodlands Individualized Senior Experience; Ossinings’ High Hopes Expectations College Track; Byram Hills’ Intel Science Program; and Mount Vernon High School’s Business Club, are proof positive that there are already solutions to the heightening dropout rate among African American Males in Westchester public schools. These programs should be replicated nationwide.

Peter Goodman, UFT . cites the following : “A Report issued by the Education Trust, (Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality, a major research institution, a vers “…research shows … that good teachers can have an enormous impact on student achievement.”

Yes, we know good teachers do have an enormous impact on student achievement. The teachers are the keepers of the dreams. And that fact is exactly what educators have known all along as they strive to teach often against the ever rising insurmountable odds. And, there are many success stories in New York City as students reach their goals and realize the dreams that they can now call their own.

Yes, “…teachers are the single most important factor in how much students learn ….” Education Trust So we say:

“Bring me all of your dreams,
you dreamers,
Bring me all your heart melodies,
that I may wrap them in a blue cloud cloth,
Away from the too rough fingers of the world. Langston Hughes “The Dream Keeper”

Phyllis C. Murray,NYC Teacher
District 8
South Bronx


Comments are now closed for this post.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Phyllis C. Murray: HELLO, TEACHERS AS DREAM KEEPERS: GOOD-BYE “BIGOTRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS” read more
  • Stephen Krashen: Kderosa, I think we are the last ones standing in read more
  • kderosa: SK, there are a lot of references in that section, read more
  • stephen Krashen: Response to kderosa 1. Very easy to meet the requirements read more
  • kderosa: I'd like to see that "research," but please separate them read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

8th grade retention
Fordham Foundation
The New Teacher Project
Tim Daly
absent teacher reserve
absent teacher reserve

accountability
accountability in Texas
accountability systems in education
achievement gap
achievement gap in New York City
acting white
admissions
AERA
AERA annual meetings
AERA conference
AERJ
Alexander Russo
Algebra II
American Association of University Women
American Education Research Associatio
American Education Research Association
American Educational Research Journal
American Federation of Teachers
Andrew Ho
Art Siebens
ATR
Baltimore City Public Schools
Barack Obama
Bill Ayers
black-white achievement gap
books
books on educational research
boy crisis
brain-based education
Brian Jacob
bubble kids
Building on the Basics
Cambridge Education
carnival of education
Caroline Hoxby
Caroline Hoxby charter schools
cell phone plan
charter schools
Checker Finn
Chicago
Chicago shooting
Chicago violence
Chris Cerf
class size
Coby Loup
college access
cool people you should know
credit recovery
curriculum narrowing
D3M
Dan Willingham
data driven
data-driven decision making
data-driven decision-making
David Cantor
DC
Dean Millot
demographics of schoolchildren
Department of Assessment and Accountability
Department of Education budget
desegregation
Diplomas Count
disadvantages of elite education
do schools matter
Doug Ready
Doug Staiger
dropout factories
dropout rate
dropouts
education books
education policy
education policy thinktanks
educational equity
educational research
educational triage
effects of neighborhoods on education
effects of No Child Left Behind
effects of schools
effects of Teach for America
elite education
ETS
Everyday Antiracism
excessed teachers
exit exams
experienced teachers
Fordham and Ogbu
Fordham Foundation
Frederick Douglass High School
Gates Foundation
gender
gender and education
gender and math
gender and science and mathematics
gifted and talented
gifted and talented admissions
gifted and talented program
gifted and talented programs in New York City
girls and math
good schools
graduate student union
graduation rate
graduation rates
guns in Chicago
health benefits for teachers
High Achievers
high school
high school dropouts
high school exit exams
high school graduates
high school graduation rate
high-stakes testing
high-stakes tests and science
higher ed
higher education
highly effective teachers
Houston Independent School District
how to choose a school
IES
incentives in education
Institute for Education Sciences
is teaching a profession?
is the No Child Left Behind Act working
Jay Greene
Jim Liebman
Joel Klein
John Merrow
Jonah Rockoff
Kevin Carey
KIPP
KIPP and boys
KIPP and gender
Lake Woebegon
Lars Lefgren
leaving teaching
Leonard Sax
Liam Julian

Marcus Winters
math achievement for girls
McGraw-Hill
meaning of high school diploma
Mica Pollock
Michael Bloomberg
Michelle Rhee
Michelle Rhee teacher contract
Mike Bloomberg
Mike Klonsky
Mike Petrilli
narrowing the curriculum
National Center for Education Statistics Condition of Education
NCLB
neuroscience
new teachers
New York City
New York City bonuses for principals
New York City budget
New York City budget cuts
New York City Budget cuts
New York City Department of Education
New York City Department of Education Truth Squad
New York City ELA and Math Results 2008
New York City gifted and talented
New York City Progress Report
New York City Quality Review
New York City school budget cuts
New York City school closing
New York City schools
New York City small schools
New York City social promotion
New York City teacher experiment
New York City teacher salaries
New York City teacher tenure
New York City Test scores 2008
New York City value-added
New York State ELA and Math 2008
New York State ELA and Math Results 2008
New York State ELA and Math Scores 2008
New York State ELA Exam
New York state ELA test
New York State Test scores
No Child Left Behind
No Child Left Behind Act
passing rates
Pearson
picking a school
press office
principal bonuses
proficiency scores
push outs
pushouts
qualitative educational research
qualitative research in education
quitting teaching
race and education
racial segregation in schools
Randall Reback
Randi Weingarten
Randy Reback
recovering credits in high school
Rick Hess
Robert Balfanz
Robert Pondiscio
Roland Fryer
Russ Whitehurst
Sarah Reckhow
school budget cuts in New York City
school choice
school effects
school integration
single sex education
skoolboy
small schools
small schools in New York City
social justice teaching
Sol Stern
SREE
Stefanie DeLuca
stereotype threat
talented and gifted
talking about race
talking about race in schools
Teach for America
teacher effectiveness
teacher effects
teacher quailty
teacher quality
teacher tenure
teachers
teachers and obesity
Teachers College
teachers versus doctors
teaching as career
teaching for social justice
teaching profession
test score inflation
test scores
test scores in New York City
testing
testing and accountability
Texas accountability
TFA
The No Child Left Behind Act
The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning Gains
thinktanks in educational research
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Tom Kane
Tweed
University of Iowa
Urban Institute study of Teach for America
Urban Institute Teach for America
value-addded
value-added
value-added assessment
Washington
Wendy Kopp
women and graduate school science and engineering
women and science
women in math and science
Woodrow Wilson High School