Monday, July 20, 2009

Media Mondays: achievement gap

Time article here.

I'm a little tired of all this "closing the achievement gap" talk. Not that it wouldn't be nice to actually close the achievement gap. It would be spectacular. Stupendous. But I highly doubt it will happen in my life-time, if ever.

Why? Because as the article says, as as many such articles have reported for a while now, the achievement gap still exists because even if Black and Hispanic students have made gains on standardized test scores, so have White students. And thus, it'll never end.

Can't we just celebrate the fact that minority and low-SES (which seems to be one and the same sometimes) have made gains? There's learning being done, and that's a good thing. Sure there's a lot more work ahead - A LOT. But that shouldn't take away from the positive.

Comparing student's achievement can only tell you so much about the student. I would like to figure out novel ways to teach students who have been isolated in "diverse" schools where 99.9% of the student population is Black or Hispanic. Because the methods used at Suburban-White-Bread Elementary A, doesn't necessarily translate at Inner-City-Gang-Infested-Neighborhood Elementary B.

Ah! See, I did it again unconsciously! Why is the white bread school called "A" and the inner city school "B?" Just because I referred to one first? And why did I refer to that one first? Why couldn't I have referred to the other first? Because that last sentence words vice versa.

Or maybe I've been reading too much Kozol. In any case, each school is different, even if their demographics are similar. So maybe that statement can't be true with a substitution of any other school.

Personally, I think another, perhaps more effective, way of combating the achievement gap is to, well, not. Raising scores is such a surface-y thing. Sometimes we forget that maybe Black students ARE doing well. Considering that a lot of minority students do not have the same resources as their white counterparts. Perhaps they are doing much more with what they have than their white counterparts if these white counterparts were put in the same situation. Frankly, I have observed the tendency that my students with low-SES backgrounds are significantly more resourceful and creative about certain things than my students who are wealthier.

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