What will do the most to narrow the achievement gap?

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Rick B (not verified)

A combination of the 4

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A combination of the 4 choices will give the greatest and quickest results. There is no, ONE cause for the problem, but getting control of Education out of the hands of politicians with their own agendas that seldom coincide with what is good for students and ultimately the good of the country would be a great start. Teachers are seen as 'public employees' rather than the trained professionals that they really are. The damage we are doing to the love of learning in the 12 years of public schooling are all things we have done to ourselves by making schools responsible for the social ills of our culture which many times puts educating the student almost last on the list of priorities. We are leaving more students behind with NCLB than we ever have.
Rochelle Sides-Renda (not verified)

There is not one easy answer

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There is not one easy answer to this question. It is very important for parents to stress the importance of an education to their children starting in kindergarten. Reading in front of children by parents and caregivers is crucial. Smaller classes and well trained, enthusiastic teachers are a must. Discipline must be included in the mix, it is not possible to teach when half the day is spent maintaining control. More funding, better equipment, fully stocked libraries, and an inclusion of the Arts in the curriculum is needed starting at the lowest levels of education. Our children can't read, they have trouble with basic math, and English is not the language of choice. Things have to change for education to flourish and for children to succeed. When I was in elementary school I had to learn and recite 100 poems a year, today children have to photocopy 100 poems. The benefits of many assignments are lost on me. Children must be taught to respect themselves before they can become productive citizens.
Mark Forbert (not verified)

I would have voted for

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I would have voted for increased parental involvement, but that is not something we can always control. Professional Development has to be increased. But I hope that we aren't always exposed to PD "experts" who convince our administrators that they have the ideal solution for our troubles. However, the more we are exposed to the best practices of others, and the more we share our own best practice methods, the better teachers we will become.
John Nyap (not verified)

Narrowing the achievement

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Narrowing the achievement gap requires targeted efforts. We ought to focus on improving achievement overall, as well. Integrated curricula and teaching may be one way to attain greater achievement overall. It is well known that students learn better when they can relate to the teachers. We must increase the diversity of our teachers and administrators We must develop new tools for integrating different methods of teaching and learning in individual classrooms (this likely requires digital intervention). Yes, we must focus on teacher education. While spending on our "special needs" students may be socially correct, it often is done at the expense of the high achievers. If we want our students to excel, then we ought to provide programs that allow them to do so. Many students would perform at a much higher level, if given the opportunity. If some of our high achievers had individual aids, we would expect their achievement to increase. If we want the US to continue to be a leader in innovation, then we must focus on science and math education. Thus, integrating science and math education into English, history, politcal sciences, and so forth is sensible. Increasing achievement on the high end may increase the achievement gap, but we must focus on the top, despite the overall average effect of increasing the gap. In the end, we should look at improving the overall average, and returning to a normal bell shaped curve, rather than a bimodal distribution of achievement as presently observed. Merging the two humps is commendable, but the average of both humps must be improved simultaneously during the convergence. Finally, we must bring physical education back to the schools. Schools with showers should be funded so towels are available for those who need them. Overall achievement will increase as student self-images are improved. PE (and music) may do more for closing the gap, than we might initially think. How do we teach our students to be responsible for their actions? When that happens, the achievement gap will decrease.
Sue Frederick (not verified)

All of the suggested answers

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All of the suggested answers need to happen simultaneously, but one of the overarching goals should be for all schools to have high expectations for their students. Students are capable of more than teachers think they are. If a teacher thinks a student is a low achiever and teaches that student at a low level, they will not be exposed to all they could be. Expect more and students will give more because they really do want to be successful. Look at what they can do in different ways from the "traditional" ways of teaching and assessing. Achievement gaps can be closed by expecting more and not accepting anything less. It's not easy, but I work in a school where it is happening.
Paula Schoorl (not verified)

I don't think there is one

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I don't think there is one solution. I think different areas and different children require different solutions. I think it is a matter of trying various methods and seeing what works for the students in your school. There are many fabulous programs out there that have had amazing results, but we just seem to ignore them and keep trying unproven methods. Despite what program or methods are use there are three things that are manditory for student success parental involvement, high expectations and a school setting where students feel safe.
L. Lucas (not verified)

I concur with Sue Frederick,

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I concur with Sue Frederick, "Achievement gaps can be closed by expecting more and not accepting anything less. It's not easy"...we need to stop accepting less than the best from all students, even students who live in a sub culture that is anti- education. Leaders in the minority populations need to address cultural issues not the teachers that accept and even promote failure in the schools.
Chuck Fellows (not verified)

To all in education from a

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To all in education from a retired business person and long term advocate of continual improvement: Please step outside your paradigm of education since it has blinded you to effective actions that will improve schools classroom by classroom, building by building (bottom up, not top down). In my small community here in Michigan those that vote are upset about taxes and upset about the never ending "wolf's cry" from school administrations and politicians for more education money, especially in this day of unfunded mandates from higher up the food chain. Take it from an expert (self proclaimed), the money is not being used wisely. Revisit the purpose of your chosen vocation and compare what you find with what you are actually doing (A read of "A Mind of its Own" by Fine will stand you up straight) in the classroom. Study the Toyota Production System closely ("The Machine that Changed the World" by Womack; "The Gold Mine" by Balle and visit www.lean.org). Hard work all this reading but it must be done or you will never become a real Sensi. This intellectual exercise will give you some of the tools you need to push back on the food chain and create "teachable moments' in the classroom. After many years in factory I learned to keep "Staff" out of my hair by keeping them busy. As teachers I think you would be experts at that. But most of all, be hopeful in everything you do in your classroom. Sincerely, Chuck Fellows South Lyon, Michigan
Sandra Holt (not verified)

From k thru 4th grade I had

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From k thru 4th grade I had dedicated teachers that understood their objectives and made sure we learned. The remainder of school was taught by half awake people that really didn't want to be there, or just did not have the natural ability to teach. Keep in mind that they were teaching kids with parents that went through the great depresion and usually didn't make it to jr. hi. , so the parents could not help much past 6th grade. Anyway, I remember school only as a state requirement. I know there are many like me that really wished that we had received an education. We wished there had been someway to learn through a programmed teaching program designed for individual advancement. Today it would be through the computer. I've often wondered why the best teachers in each subject aren't video taped and put in classrooms all across the country for the basic lecture or explanation. After that the information could be reread on a one-on-one programmed learner on the computer with instant testing and feedback. I see no reason why any child could not learn all the material and be tested until they knew the material and received an A using computer programmed learners. Instead of hiring more teachers and building more buildings, invest in computers and quality programs to teach and test in as many subjects as possible.
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