Test scores-do you think it's possible?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by waterfall, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Sep 21, 2012

    This is something that's been on my mind. Do you think it's possible for an inner city school to do incredibly well on state tests- say 95%? A public school that must accept and educate every student within state guidelines. Are there any public schools out there that are accomplishing this?

    If you think it is, what would have to happen within that school (without changing current laws or regulations, just within that specific school) to make it happen?
     
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  3. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    No, I don't think so.

    Central High School and Masterman in Philadelphia score very high on state tests. However they only admit students with high test scores.

    I'll be interested in finding out if there are any schools accomplishing this. Great question.
     
  4. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Sep 21, 2012

    Possible...yes. Likely...no.

    High test scores shouldn't be the main goal of any teacher. A teacher has a chance to teach in a way that children will forever remember the information and make a difference in their lives. The test scores will still be good. I sacrifice far too much of my life as a teacher to bow down to administrators who get too greedy over test scores. No that won't happen. My focus is on the only thing that lasts--truly educating each child so their lives can be ones where education will make a lasting difference. Sprite was right... "Image is nothing, thirst is everything."
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It might be possible, but I think that it is extremely unlikely. The way those tests are written, especially with a focus on background knowledge and experience, our inner city kids are already at a big disadvantage. Add in all the other garbage that our kids usually face, and it's just too much to overcome. I absolutely believe that our inner city kids are capable of learning as much as any other kid, but right now the framework to achieve that isn't in place. Paper and pencil tests aren't going to get them there.
     
  6. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I work in an inner city area where the school I teach at is in the 900s for the California state test. There is no cheating or anything. The school has been doing it for as long as the state testing has been used. Just because people live in an inner city does not mean all areas are poverty stricken or have high levels of gangs and other negative things which often go with large cities. Every city in the area I live has a range from very poor areas to very wealthy areas and the scores rise and fall with the level of wealth, parent dedication to education, and parental education in the community. It still may be in a central part of the city.

    I also know of schools, yes public schools, that have raised the test scores huge amounts; up into the 900s or 800s in areas in which the communities are poorer and less educated. It takes a lot of work; but the city I work in has quite a few schools which have moved up in the last decade quite a bit.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Maybe "inner city" needs to be defined. In my experience, "inner city" refers specifically to high-poverty areas, not necessarily to the geographic center of a city.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Yes, that's what I meant.
     
  9. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Possible, yes... Probable? I'm not so sure. If someone finds one, please post it!
     
  10. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I always understood inner city to be very literal the inner areas of a city. Many inner city areas are poverty stricken; but not all. Some of the most poverty stricken areas in many cities is not the central part anyway.

    There are areas where a large percentage of the children are on the free and reduced lunch list where the scores are actually very high as I said above. Where they have raised the scores the staff has done a lot of work. Also the smaller class sizes have helped. I am not sure what exactly they have done though. I know that one of the most useful things is a well laid out behavior plan for the entire school. One of the ones I know of that has incredibly high scores for the level of income the families have is in China Town in this city and the parents are dedicated to their children's education. Another one is a school which has worked very hard to make arts a central part of the school. Almost all of the ones that have done well have figured out a way to engage the parents in some way or another. A lot of them have quality after school programs.

    I totally agree that the basis of judgement of a school on a prefabricated standardized test is a wasteful thing. And the pressure to teach to the test is a shame on our nation. However there are quality schools who have worked very hard and been successful in working in poverty stricken area.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that your definition of "inner city" isn't a commonly accepted one.
     
  12. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Sep 21, 2012

    Yes it is possible... And it does happen.
     
  13. jenneke607

    jenneke607 Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2012

    Have you ever read any of the debate about 90-90-90 schools? They are schools in which:
    at least 90% of the students are free or reduced lunch
    at least 90% of the students are racial minorities
    at least 90% of the students achieved proficiency or better on state measures

    http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/er/hphm_anderson.html
    (That's an old list. I looked at the MA schools, and a number of those no longer qualify as 90-90-90 at all. However, our school-by-school results for the state test were released yesterday, and it looks like there are a few new schools that would qualify. Some are charter, but a few are public schools, including a public elementary school in one of the more struggling cities [Springfield, MA] that had scores in the 99.9th percentile!)

    Douglas Reeves also published an article about this that I skimmed:
    http://www.teachersofcolor.com/2009/04/uncovering-the-secrets-of-high-poverty-high-success-schools/

    So while there is a lot of talk about what is going on in these schools, and why they score so highly -- particularly in comparison to their SES counterparts -- it can happen.
     
  14. McParadigm

    McParadigm Companion

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    Sep 22, 2012

    Agreed. There was a time when the rush to the cities resulted in a perception of deep city living as prestigious or, for lack of a better word, fancy. But it's been decades since the "white flight" and suburbification of America began. Certainly there are still lots of high income, high value living locations in the downtown areas of most cities, but even Mirriam-Webster defines "inner city" as "the usually older, poorer, and more densely populated central section of a city"
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2012

    It is possible. My district has two schools that are considered high poverty. One is meeting AYP still and the other is only not meeting due to the subgroup area (I can't remember which one).

    I can say that the reasons that they are meeting or close to meeting are the programs that they offer. We start a preschool screening for students at 3 who may have ELL, special education, or other issues that would impact their school. We offer a free full day kindergarten class for students who attended the preschool program or who have limited English (could be ELL or could be limited exposure). These students get lots of language exposure and vocabulary work.

    My district does a great job of getting these services out in the community and passing them on to the parents. The only ways for parents to take advantage of the services is for them to know what is available.

    Then we start RtI services from the moment that they begin kindergarten. Students truly are pulled 1-1 or in very small groups (2 or 3) for services.
     
  16. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Wow, Mopar! That is phenomenal.

    I believe that most schools could meet AYP with the right programs as mopar explained. It isn't a magic bullet and the fix isn't seen in a single year, but if we really look at what was required, schools had years to figure it out before it really counted.

    For the school with the low subgroup, that would take more investigation as to why this group at the one school is not being successful.
     
  17. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    What's the free and reduced lunch percentage? "High poverty" here can mean 50% free and reduced lunch. I can tell you the schools where half the kids are in serious poverty look INCREDIBLY different from schools where 90% of the kids are in serious poverty.

    I don't doubt your wonderful gains, and I am not trying to lower expectations....but I want to see a true 90/90/90 school.

    90% or more poverty.
    90% or more minority.
    90% or more meeting/exceeding on The Test.

    It's tough. Here is where my school currently stands:

    93% Poverty
    98% Minority
    78% Meets/Exceeds

    Here's what I think we do right:

    #1 Serious community programs and social services. We are a true "community" school. If somebody needs housing resources, GED services, utility assistance, etc., they find it. We partner with a ton of outside agencies. You must address the immediate social needs of families if you expect them to be able to care about school.

    #2 Strong leadership. This is huge. We have administrators who all taught at the school before they became admin. They have ties to the community. They understand the community, and they build a warm environment of high expectations. Teacher retention is high because they feel valued and respected. You gotta have a vision.

    Here's where I feel like we need some work:

    #1 Smaller class sizes. No gen ed class outside of Pre-K has less than 30 kids. :down: Teachers could do so much more, especially in K-3, if they had less kids or at least some aide support.

    #2 Data driven instruction. (EWWWWWWWWWW, BUZZ WORDDDD!) I knowwww this is a "thing" lately, but I really believe in it. If teachers were trained to adequately track student progress and use the data to inform instruction, lessons would be more targeted and efficient. Gains would be more pronounced. We have a lot of tools at our disposal that nobody knows how to use.

    90/90/90 IS possible...but you have to have a lot of gears in place...a lot of different things happening at one time. The entire school culture and focus needs to change. Perhaps even the PURPOSE of school as we know it needs to change.
     
  18. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    The one school that isn't meeting AYP has 82% low income students. I think that the real reason that they aren't meeting is that so many students move in and out throughout the year. That makes it very hard to provide early intervention services to the students.

    The other school is around 70% low income. But they have a much more stable population of students.

    We are not a true 90/90/90 school, but we are making considerable strides with the population of students that we have. We also have some schools with a low income rate around 15%. So we are not a true low income district.
     
  19. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    The term "inner city" is interesting and probably will be one of those that are no longer used soon. Even with political appropriateness aside, with gentrification occurring in so many center cities, many families that once lived in the "inner city" now live in the suburbs that were more working class in the 1950s-1980s.

    In terms of the topic itself, I agree with readingrules12 - possible yes, likely no. There are so many challenges with kids who come from high-poverty backgrounds that the likelihood of overcoming those issues on a significant level with 95% of kids in a school would be extremely difficult.
     
  20. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    In Philly, we actually had many schools making AYP. However, it turns out that many of those schools were not doing well at all - they were cheating on the test.

    http://thenotebook.org/blog/125157/pa-test-scores-drop-state-officials-blame-past-cheating

    I know that many schools throughout the U.S. have been found to be cheating on state tests. So it is difficult to know just how valid any of these scores are.
     

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