Today we are going to consider two very similar maps. The map at the top is a map of public school ratings based solely on the students test scores. The map underneath is a map showing the percentage of poverty. The similarities are striking. You can almost overlay one on top of the other. These images give additional weight to the plethora of evidence found on studies of test scores and poverty. Childhood poverty is the highest its been in 20 years. The United States has a child hood poverty rate of 21% overall but it is not evenly distributed. Poverty is a significant factor in school performance. The stress of living with want makes learning difficult as I discussed a few weeks back in the post called Stress, Poverty and Learning. If we are serious about improving our performance we must address the handicapping conditions of poverty. We need to abandon programs which are not working at least as well as the public schools had prior to their inception such as ASD and CC/PARCC and instead try something new.
Take the lowest performing school in your state and update it. Bring in wrap around services and teachers with masters degrees. Pay the teachers handsomely and trust them. Set up the school so the teachers will not be punished for the poverty of the students. Create wrap around services with small class size and family interventions/assistance. Test in three years. Skip the wasted time and money for the annual test. It's a reasonable hypothesis that you will have academic growth, happier kids, happier families, and happy teachers. With the funds saved on testing the state can afford to pilot a true reform which is child centered.
When I began in the profession veteran teachers were expected to
have taught 30 to 40 years. Now the average teaching term is five
years. Veteran teachers have 10 or more years. We are hemorrhaging talent. The teachers in our
state who performed this miracle are headed out the door. If we want to retain our talent we need to find a way to balance power. We also need to recognize the expertise of our educators and trust the view points they share. They know poverty schools will perform better with wrap around services. Create a lab school and test it. Many can tell you the affects of yearly tests and yearly observation and review. They will have solutions that can be tried and measured. We need to trust our teachers and give the schools, teachers, and students the support needed to overcome anything that prevents success.
If you would like a resource to understand poverty Ruby Paine wrote a book on this subject. The link is provided here: