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Tacoma, WA Urgency and Possibility: Toward Excellence with Equity in Raising Achievement Levels and Narrowing Gaps August 18, 2008 Ronald F. Ferguson,

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Presentation on theme: "Tacoma, WA Urgency and Possibility: Toward Excellence with Equity in Raising Achievement Levels and Narrowing Gaps August 18, 2008 Ronald F. Ferguson,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Tacoma, WA Urgency and Possibility: Toward Excellence with Equity in Raising Achievement Levels and Narrowing Gaps August 18, 2008 Ronald F. Ferguson, PhD Faculty Co-Chair & Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University & Founder, Tripod Project for School Improvement The Achievement Gap Initiative At Harvard University Web Addresses: and Contact: Erin Hardy

2 US Population Shares in 2000

3 US Population Shares Projected for 2050

4 Consider the following as phenomena with which young people may need help coping: Feeling stereotype anxiety and stereotype threat; Projecting negative stereotypes onto themselves and others (resulting in diminished sense of efficacy or entitlement); Facing exclusion/discrimination, including due to implicit biases (Mahzarin Banaji, Harvard Department of Psychology) ; Sensing cultural fit (or misfit); Deciding to code switch (or not) in response to different cultural codes in different settings; Feeling survivors guilt; Feeling concerned about being authentic; Feeling concerned about being perceived as selling out; Feeling concerned about being perceived as acting white. Race- and identity-related phenomena can either promote or interfere with efforts to raise achievement and close achievement gaps.

5 Peers Black and Hispanic students who get the highest grades may suffer a popularity penalty, with fewer peers listing them as friends. There is some evidence that the popularity penalty may be associated more with the racial authenticity of personal styles among some high achievers (speech styles, music preferences, trusting attitudes) than with their achievement levels or aspirations, per se. There is opposition to hard work and nerdy behavior even among white students and racial differences in this domain appear to be minimal.

6 Parenting Practices and Home Life Styles Mother-child interactions during infancy help predict test scores in early elementary years and help explain achievement gaps. Parenting practices (warmth and demandingness) during early school years help predict test scores during early adolescence and help explain achievement gaps. Compared to Whites and Asians, Black and Hispanic children in elementary school report less leisure reading at home, fewer books at home, more television watching, more televisions in bedrooms, and get sleepier at school.

7 Reasons to be Hopeful that Progress is Possible Minimal between-group differences among infantsit appears we start from the same place. Black-White IQ gaps are smaller than in the past. NAEP trends showed dramatic gap narrowing between 1970 and 1990, showing that rapid progress is possible. Recent NAEP trends for 9-year olds show movement toward group-proportional equality (i.e., all rising but lowest groups rising faster)

8 But, Some Sobering Realities Progress for teenagers mostly stopped around Most high poverty, high minority schools score very poorly. Racial gaps are often largest among children of the college educated. 15 percent of high schools produce half of our dropouts and children of color are heavily concentrated in these schools. There are large disparities between states, with poor states tending to score lower and receive least federal aid on a per student cost-adjusted basis. Schools where progress causes scores to rise for all groups while gaps get narrower are not as common as we might like (though recent NAEP Trends for 9-year olds is encouraging).

9 There is an urgent need for: Youth cultures that more consistently support behaviors consistent with academic learning and the pursuit of excellence; Parenting that nurtures intellectual growth and balances warmth and responsiveness with structure and demandingness; Teaching that engages and challenges students to achieve at higher levels; Community supports to supplement parents and teachers; Leadership to organize, guide and motivate others in a 21 st Century Social Movement for Excellence with Equity. Urgency AND Possibility.

10 Engagement in School: the Tripod Project Framework And some findings from Tripod Project Surveys

11 Content What should we teach? Does each teacher have deep knowledge of the curriculum? Pedagogy How should we teach? Does each teacher use effective instructional techniques? Relationships Are we a community? Do students and teachers care about, inspire, and motivate each other? Academic Success for all Students Improved student performance depends on strengthening three legs of an instructional tripod:

12 Tripod and Student Achievement Characteristics of Schools Conditions of Classroom Learning Student Engagement Student Achievement

13 These five tasks help us to formulate targets for student engagement Trust & Interest Control & Autonomy Ambitiousness (high goals) Industriousness Mastery & consolidation Feel trusting, safe and welcome Behave cooperatively Embrace mastery goals Work diligently Achieve satisfaction

14 Students experience classrooms where… They believe success is Feasible Lessons are Relevant The experience is Stimulating/Interesting/Enjoyable Teachers provide Support and Press There is Peer Support (or at least an absence of distractions) These Five Classroom Learning Conditions Help Achieve the Engagement Targets

15 Classrooms are situated in schools where there is.. A healthy climate of support and press for all Evidence of distributed leadership Focused and aligned curriculum Effective instruction Assessment for learning These Five Characteristics of Schools Help Achieve the Classroom Learning Conditions

16 Five Targets of Social and Intellectual Engagement Target One Trust and Interest versus Mistrust and Disinterest Target Two Balanced versus Imbalanced Teacher Control and Student Autonomy Target Three Ambitiousness versus Ambivalence Target Four Industriousness versus Disengagement &Discouragement Target Five Mastery & Consolidation versus Confusion & Irresolution

17 Target One – Signal to students that people in your classroom can feel safe together and will support one another's success. What questions about you as a person would you consider answering for students? What creative formats might you use to disclose things about yourself and solicit related information from students about themselves? Cite one or two activities that you have/might use to foster a positive sense of caring and expectancy in your classroom.

18 Target Two – Express an expectation that the classroom will be well controlled while also welcoming student input. What strategies or practices could you use that would have your students make the following statement about you? My teacher is definitely going to be in control, but seems to care about our preferences too. Describe briefly the evidence that would cause your students to make the following statement about you. My teacher clearly means business in this class and doesnt let us get away with things. But s/he definitely is fair and respectful in how s/he treats us.

19 Target Three – Express commitment to high goals for students and the desire that students should have high goals too. What would you say to a student who asks this question on the second day of class: How does what I learn in this course relate to me TODAY. Why should I set high goals for trying to learn it?

20 Target Four – Express anticipation that there may be setbacks, but promise to be supportive in helping students succeed. What words will you use to convey to students both the exciting challenges that lay ahead in the course and the fact that you will be there to support them in any struggles they have?

21 Target Five – Inspire initial interest in class content and help students begin believing in their prospects for mastery. What types of things will you say or do as the school year begins, to help students anticipate a positive outcome to the school year? What additional questions, issues or concerns do you think might be on the minds of your students as they enter their first class with you? How do you plan to address them?

22 15 predictors of achievement gains among low achievers (value added analysis for one middle school) Support for Feasibility/Efficacy: 1.We get helpful comments to help us know what we did wrong on assignments. 2.My teacher in this class likes it when we ask questions. 3.If you dont understand something, my teacher explains it another way. 4.My teacher has several good ways to explain each topic that we cover.

23 15 predictors of achievement gains among low achievers (value added analysis for one middle school) Relevance: 5.Things I am learning in this class will help me in my life. 6.I often feel like this class has nothing to do with real life outside school.

24 15 predictors of achievement gains among low achievers (value added analysis for one middle school) Support: Respect, Fairness and Emotional Support 7.My teacher in this class treats the students with respect. 8.My teacher grades me fairly. 9.My teacher really tries to understand how students feel about things.

25 15 predictors of achievement gains among low achievers (value added analysis for one middle school) Press: (Determination/Demandingness/Structure) 10.Our class stays busy and doesnt waste time. 11.The teacher in this class demands that the students work hard. 12.My teacher doesnt let people give up when the work gets hard.

26 15 predictors of achievement gains among low achievers (value added analysis for one middle school) Cultivation of Peer Support 13.My teacher encourages us to be helpful to other students with their work. 14.My teacher encourages us to share ideas with one another in class.

27 15 predictors of achievement gains among low achievers (value added analysis for one middle school) Positive Behavior Climate 15.My classmates behave the way my teacher wants them to.

28 Things we can do Identify & teach social codes in a respectful fashion (students & adults). Honest conversations at the individual level. Evening parent sessions. Establish open dialogue with parents, solicit feedback. Set goals and monitor progress.

29 Additional information Web Addresses and


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