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NYC educator offers some provocative comments on a new ETS study finding—surprise, surprise—that children's home environments have a major impact on their achievement levels in school. He writes:

The reason why this study is important is because it emphasizes something educators already know--our classrooms and our schools do not exist in vacuums. Our students come to us with lives and backgrounds that are far more influential upon their academic potentials and performances than whatever I do for 45 minutes a day, 183 days a year ....

The findings likewise suggests, NYC educator opines, that efforts to improve achievement by keeping kids in school longer are counterintuitive:

What we hear from the billionaire businessmen, computer company execs and hedge fund managers masquerading as education reformers is that students do not perform well in school because the school day is not long enough, the school year is not long enough and the teachers are not good enough. So if we just increase the school day and school year and add more standardized testing/accountability mechanisms for both teachers and students, we can fix the problems with education.
But as the ETS study found, these solutions are false.

A better idea, he suggests, would be to "rebuild an American society," especially as reflected in school and work schedules, so that hard-pressed parents could spend more time with their children.

Correction: NYC Educator informs us that the post was actually written (on his blog) by reality-based educator. See comments.

4 Comments

Thank you very much for noticing the post. In fairness, I have to say it was written by my co-conspirator, reality-based educator.

I don't find the comments to be especially provocative--rather they are another ho-hum assertion that the ways things are is the way things are, and must always be. Our schools would be better if we could just get a better class of kid.

I believe the more provocative interpretation is to assert that the American Public System of Education is a powerful reinforcer of existing economic stratification. To get to this takes a step off our own shores to view ourselves in an international context. There are countries in the world where the conditions cited have a far less powerful effect on educational outcomes. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has published a convincing study with recommondations for building school systems that respond to economic and other forms of diversity in ways that tend to create, rather than limit, inclusion and equity. Some of their recommendations include those things that are being fought hardest by those within the existing system, such as "set concrete targets for more equity, particularly related to low school attainment and dropout."

They also support public policy that provides quality pre-school education equitably, something that we do not have in this country--despite excellent evidence of the long-term effects. As well they suggest measures to counteract disproportionate referrals to specialized services that remove students from the mainstream, and more equitable distribution of experienced teachers.

Most interesting is their emphasis on the classroom as the primary point of intervention.

Reference:
Field, S. Kuczera, M. Pont, B.(2007) No more failures: Ten steps to equity in education, OECD Publishing.

Good blog. What a novel idea that a child's home life has a major impact on his success in school. I don't think a study was needed to come up with this thought. All they needed to do was ask some experienced educators.

Good blog. What a novel idea that a child's home life has a major impact on his success in school. I don't think a study was needed to come up with this thought. All they needed to do was ask some experienced educators.

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  • DGSOS101: Good blog. What a novel idea that a child's home read more
  • DGSOS101: Good blog. What a novel idea that a child's home read more
  • Margo/Mom: I don't find the comments to be especially provocative--rather they read more
  • NYC Educator: Thank you very much for noticing the post. In fairness, read more

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