High Performing Urban Schools

Discussion in 'General Education' started by cheeryteacher, Mar 22, 2014.

  1. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I'm sure that you have heard of the 90-90-90 schools where they have 90% FRD, 90% minority population, and 90% success rate on state mandated tests. I recently read that these schools may be a myth. Do any of you teach in or know of any high performing urban schools that fit or are close to the 90-90-90 criteria? I'm looking for schools where at least 80% of the population is on free and reduced lunch, and at least 80% minority, and where at least 90% of the population passes the state mandated tests. If you do please name the school! I'm interested in taking a look at what they do to achieve their success.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Everything I've ever read says that 90-90-90 is a complete myth, and that the Reeves' study only showed they existed because he used a benchmark that 83% of schools were already meeting.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    There are charters in my area that meet that criteria. However, they are obviously selective about who they enroll. They mandate many volunteer hours a month, so they only get families that are really involved and supportive of education. Some also have entrance exams. Kids are kicked out for even the slightest infraction- so they have no behavior problems or low academic students. So they technically have the high FRL and minority population but only because they've selected the best students/families out of that population. Last year I taught in an inner city school with 100% FRL. I taught 3rd grade and my top students were all on waiting lists for local charters. The top 5 performers in my class no longer attend the school this year. We also got over 50 students (yes, literally) throughout the year who had been kicked out of local charters. One of my students who was one of the most challenging behaviorally and academically literally had 5-6 charter uniforms that he wore to school frequently from all of the places he'd been kicked out of.
     
  5. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I read the same information gr3teacher. It's disheartening to not be able to find any urban schools that are able to "make it work" with the hand that they have been dealt. Especially when the powers that be act as if the outside factors don't have any effect at all.

    I really am trying to believe that there have to be a handful out there that are high achieving. Maybe even if it's not at 90%. Do you know of any schools where the success rate is significantly better that that of other schools in the district?
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    In San Diego there is an urban school turned into charter school that is said to be very successful. I really don't know if they ever reached the 90-90-90, well minority-wise I'm pretty sure, but don't know about the test scores.
    All I know is that they used to have HUGE problems and they turned everything around. I know the kids wear uniforms, and that actually cut down on a lot of issues.
    It's called Gompers Charter School. I know I looked into it when I was just getting my credential, and even for their subs they have a very selective process.
     
  7. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Since all of the problems in the American educational system are a result directly of poverty, of course schools with largely impoverished populations can't be successful!

    -Teachers content with the status quo out of laziness or fear of change.
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I don't know why you are so hostile to the idea that poverty DOES play a huge role in the educational system.
     
  9. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Ok, before this argument gets out of hand, let me settle it with a very brilliant hypothetical story.

    The city of Podunk Arkansas has two middle schools.

    The Albert Einstein Academy serves students who are primarily the children of educated, working professionals who live in the nicer part of town. The families have secure incomes and own the homes they live in. If you are a student at Albert Einstein, its most likely that you only have to worry about school and school related things. Moreover, your parents have the resources and personal energy to give you the encouragement, support, and occasional kick in the rear, needed to be successful in school.

    At Richard Milhouse Nixon Fundamental School it's a different story. The majority of the students at Nixon live in either public housing, trailer parks, or weekly motels. Some are homeless. Most are on free or reduced lunches. A large percentage of the students have one parent who is incarcerated or struggling with substance abuse problems. Among those parents who are not incarcerated or in and out of rehab, are other parents who work 70 hours a week to keep a roof over the family. Many students at Nixon miss school because they take care of younger siblings while their parents are at work.

    If you compare student achievement, 95% of the students at Einstein are proficient or advanced. Only around half of the students at Nixon are proficient or advanced.

    But let's do something. Let's take the students at Nixon who have 98% attendance or better, complete 95% of their homework, and have never been suspended, and compare them to the kids at Einstein who meet the same criteria.

    Granted, you would be comparing nearly all of the students at Einstein with a fraction of the students at Nixon. But my guess is that if you compared the students at the low-income school who had good attendance and did their homework with students meeting the same criteria at the high-income school, their average levels of achievement would be much closer.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    They'd probably be closer, but my money would still be on the kiddos at Einstein. They probably have well-stocked class libraries, all the math manipulatives a teacher could ask for, and more teaching time since they don't have to deal with the behavioral nonsense.
     
  11. comaba

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    I suppose it may be difficult for one to understand the effects of poverty on education if one hasn't experienced it. ;)
     
  12. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Then those are the "educational equity" metrics that need to be used to determine the overall quality of a school.
     
  13. mr_post22

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    10% is FRL
    51% of students are mixed, Hispanic, black, or Asian.
    Last year, out average FCAT pass rate was about 71% and we are an "A" school.
     
  14. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Mar 23, 2014

    Poverty playing a role doesn't excuse the unwillingness of actors within the education world to reform for the sake of those who are most harmed by a terribly inefficient system.

    And for whoever implied I'm not familiar with impoverished districts, try again; because I've seen what our current system doesn't do for children, I'm even more passionate about reform.
     
  15. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    My wife and I are/were both inner city teachers by choice. Every day we would leave our safe rural country home and drive 45 minutes into the hearts of Providence and Central Falls - from pristine forests, streams and lakes and cozy country homes into a jungle of dilapidated 3-story tenements, treeless trash-strewn streets, wandering homeless and gun-toting gangs.

    We chose to work there because we love the diversity and we know that our efforts have the greatest potential to make a difference in those kids lives.

    All the "reform" in the world won't make a significant, sustainable difference in the quality of their education unless the issues of poverty are addressed first.

    But until that happens, there are many dedicated teachers doing their best and working their butts off every day for little, or no, recognition or thanks.
     
  16. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    In our district truancy wouldn't be tolerated. It is always dealt with when it occurs and the district intervenes finding the root of the problem and finding a solution to it. Our truancy rate is very low even in our poorest schools.

    Interesting naming of schools. The wealthy kids go to school named after a genius. The poor kids go to a school named after an impeached president who many believe was a criminal.:dizzy:
     
  17. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    The fact that you believe quality education isn't a critical plank in any platform to address the issue of cyclical poverty is incredibly sad and makes me wonder why you bothered working in those areas to begin with.
     
  18. 2ndTimeAround

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    We shouldn't discount genetics either. There is a genetic component to intelligence and a seemingly one to various learning disabilities.

    Parents that did not or were not able to do well in school not only pass along their frustration and apathy with education, they often times pass down their inabilities.

    And general knowledge to many parents just isn't general to everyone. There are so many things that I take for granted because I've been a very involved parent for a long time. I know things about our school district that many of my colleagues do not. Because they either started teaching here after their kids were older or because they were busy WORKING in schools and did not get to volunteer like I did.

    However, some of the most involved parents at my kids' schools were poor. Poor by economists' standards, but by choice. They were stay at home parents that gave up extra income in order to spend more time with their children. Those parents raised children that were very successful in school despite their household incomes.

    Poverty definitely impacts education but it isn't just the $$$ that does it. I believe it is education that impacts education more. A terrible cycle of ignorance.
     
  19. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    I think what you are describing I would not call genetics. Take out that word and I agree with most of what you say. Working in schools of poverty in the past, poverty is a state of mind more than it is about money I believe. If you have not been around this environment, I don't expect you to agree with me. However, from working with kids in poverty, this is a cycle I see far too often. Despite what anyone wants to believe, excellent teaching alone cannot break that cycle.
     
  20. 2ndTimeAround

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    I wasn't describing just one thing. I do think it has something to do with genetics as well as other factors.

    I've had some hard conversations with parents about this very thing. Parents of students and personal friends. One mother was distraught that her adopted son was floundering in school. She was brilliant, her husband was brilliant and they both mistakenly believed that an environment rich with attention and opportunity was all their son needed to be a successful student. After all, that's all it took for them and their siblings. Their son just did not have the intellectual capability they had.
     
  21. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Thanks. I see what you mean now. I was misunderstanding you.
     
  22. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I wasn't talking about truancy. I was talking about attendance.

    My point was about statistics. Just take a single factor or set of factors that teachers generally do not control, and apply them to both schools. But they have to be things that directly affect school achievement. Being on free or reduced lunch does not harm school performance. It's simply an indicator of poverty. So is poor attendance. But poor attendance affects school performance regardless of a student's socioeconomic status.

    There are a lot of factors you could use. Attendance is one. Maybe you remove factors. Do not count any child who has ever been in foster care, visited by CPS, been homeless or evicted from housing, or had a parent incarcerated.

    That would widen the gap between the sample sizes of the two schools, but probably narrow the gap in achievement. You might have a few kids at Albert Einstein who are not counted. And a lot of very poor students at Richard Nixon would still be counted.

    It's not the poverty, but the instability and stress of poverty that stifles school achievement.

    I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case somewhere. It's not about the abilities of the kids, but rather what a school board might think of those abilities.
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    So you're saying that your school doesn't mean any of the criteria for being a 90-90-90 school?
     
  24. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    In our district students repeatedly staying home for any matter other than a doctor excused illness would be truancy and treated as such. Our district takes attendance seriously.

    I just want to clarify that in our district attendance and our district's term for lack of attendance for matters other than documented illness is considered under the umbrella of truancy.
     
  25. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I used to teach in a district that had high schools that met or nearly met the 90-90-90 rule. It was a nerve wracking experience. All we did was teach to the test (back when that was still possible because of the poor design of the state test). We analyzed data, we kept records, we targeted our "bubble kids"... It was an insane, highly inflexible, soul sucking experience. But the district was held up as a model to the rest of the state and received numerous state and national awards. We've a new state test now, and that district is nowhere close to achieving a 90% passing rate... Of course, neither is my current suburban district...
     
  26. FourSquare

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    We don't have any here....I just looked up our highest performing schools in Chicago, and even our regional gifted centers didn't post 90%+ on state tests. (And these schools have <20% poverty.)

    The highest performance I saw from a 90%+ poverty schools was in the 60's.
     
  27. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    That's interesting. My current school is not 90-90-90, but does have over 50% free/reduced lunch and minority. Achievement rate is above 95%. I see similar soul sucking issues here. Teachers of testing grades are always stressed and they absolutely teach to the test. The kids obviously know more than what's on the test, but there will be a month of daily review before the test. Is that what it takes for urban schools to achieve? Run down, stressed, overworked teachers?
     
  28. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    You are totally missing my point. I said that if you compare the students with 98% or better attendance at each school, the achievement gap would narrow. 98% is pretty good. Most teachers are out more than that each year.
     
  29. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Let me better clarify what MY point is.

    Suppose you have a low performing school where 90% are on FRL. And you have a high performing school where 20% are on FRL. What if you only compared the students THOSE students to each other?

    If it turns out that comparing the kids in such a manner lessens the disparity, what would it tell us?

    I think that if you separate out students at a particular school, and find their are differences in achievement based on demographic factors, it turns the whole school reform issue on it's head. No longer can you say that simply "raising the bar" or making classes "more rigorous" is going to be of any benefit to poor students.
     
  30. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    The problem even separating demographics in the way you say is that you can't determine how much the family is contributing to the success of the small percent of kids. So, it my not show teacher quality at all. What you might see is a herculean effort on the part of the family of a highly gifted student with some home support.

    The difficult part with research when it comes to schools is that it is hard to tease out outside factors that contribute to learning.
     
  31. 2ndTimeAround

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    And then there's the issue of figuring what outside factors actually contribute to learning. We make a lot of assumptions based on correlation and common sense but as far as I know there aren't studies that isolate those factors. Simply because so many to hand in hand.
     

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