The notion that US public schools are mediocre, or even in “crisis,” has been fed in recent decades by comparisons of American students and their international peers, often using scores on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), or other tests. But are such comparisons of the “average student” useful, or even valid? What do they actually indicate? And how could we better assess what is working, what is not, and what is likely to help fix the latter, with respect to US public education? This BBA MOOC session tackles these important questions.
Health is another factor that connects education and poverty. Low-income students’ poorer health relative to their better-off peers –physically , mentally and emotionally – and their lack of consistent access to preventive and remedial care combine to make them much more likely to miss school and to be less attentive while in class, which work … Continued
While individual student poverty poses distinct barriers to academic success, children of minority ethnic and racial status face even tougher odds, especially those growing up in concentrated poverty. This session explores the connections between race and these life contexts, and their impacts on educational achievement and attainment.
As the materials in Session III documented, children begin school at very different levels of readiness, and disparities in their families’ and communities’ resources to support them further widen those gaps. One critical component of those resources is schools themselves. The unique US system, which relies heavily on local property taxes to fund schools, is a key driver of within-school inequities that cause our education system to compound, rather than compensate for, early gaps with which children enter kindergarten.
In this third BBA MOOC session, we delve into the critical importance of children’s earliest months and years of life in laying the foundations for future learning, and the disparities in opportunity that emerge between lower-income and higher-income babies and young children. From more stressful conditions among low-income pregnant women to their inability to take time off from work to bond with new babies and insufficient resources to provide the stimulation and nurturing – both at home and in out-of-home care – these opportunity gaps lead to substantial achievement gaps at kindergarten entry.
In this second BBA MOOC section, we explore some of the leading opposing voices to our approach that real progress in closing achievement gaps cannot be made until we address school- and non-school based factors at the same time. These voices largely discount the strategy of addressing poverty, though not necessarily disagreeing with its impact on learning. Rather, under the mantra of “no excuses” (i.e. for poverty), they highlight how schools themselves, especially effective teachers, can improve student outcomes for poor and low-income students. We conclude by offering an alternative view where comprehensive “whole student” and “whole school” policies are not only possible, but far more enriching and effective.
This first session of the BBA “MOOC”, or BBA 101, introduces you to several of the ways that poverty impedes effective teaching and learning, and provides some key statistics on those impacts.