Posts Tagged ‘solutions’

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy (an all-male charter school) just pulled a THREE-PEAT announcing that ALL of their graduating seniors have been accepted into four-year colleges!

At a time where faith in the traditional educational system is beginning to waiver for many, Urban Prep Academy on Chicago’s south side must be doing something right.   Once again, 100% of its 2012 graduating seniors are heading off to college in the fall.  And by the way, this school is the only all-Black, all-male public prep school in Chicago!

This is the third year in a row that the school has achieved the feat thanks to hard-working teachers, parents and of course…the amazing students.

The school started with students whose futures had been left for dead by their public schools: Only four percent of the school’s incoming freshmen were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus.

The young men at this incredible school are reason for hope and celebration as they continue to break barriers and defy the odds!  What an inspiration!?

See Chicago Tribune Letter to the Editor: Success stories

Educational Leadership:Poverty and Learning:The Myth of the Culture of Poverty.

Closing the Achievement Gap – NGA Center for Best Practices – www.subnet.nga.org/educlear/achievement

School reform has been a top priority for governors and other state policymakers since the mid-1980s. This movement has enjoyed many successes, but significant challenges remain.

In this policy primer, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices explores a key education-policy challenge facing states today: the achievement gap. We discuss the history and nature of this problem, state efforts to close this gap, possible state-level strategies and solutions, and pitfalls for policymakers to avoid.

What is the achievement gap?

The “achievement gap” is a matter of race and class. Across the U.S., a gap in academic achievement persists between minority and disadvantaged students and their white counterparts. This is one of the most pressing education-policy challenges that states currently face.

New urgency at the federal level

Recent changes in Federal education policy have put the spotlight on the achievement gap. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires states to set the same performance targets for children:

  • From economically disadvantaged families
  • With disabilities
  • With limited English proficiency
  • From all major ethnic and racial groups

Within a school, if any student subgroup persistently fails to meet performance targets, districts must provide public school choice and supplemental services to those students – and eventually restructure the school’s governance. This is required even if the school performs well overall.

In other words, schools now are considered successful only if they close the achievement gap. Many schools are struggling to meet this benchmark.

Measuring the achievement gap

There are several ways to measure the achievement gap. One common method is to compare academic performance among African-American, Hispanic, and white students on standardized assessments.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that reading scores for 17-year-olds narrowed dramatically for both African-American and Hispanic students from 1975 through 1988. From 1990 to 1999, however, these gaps either remained constant or grew slightly in both reading and mathematics.

Looking at the NAEP data, the Education Trust concluded that, “By the time [minority students] reach grade 12, if they do so at all, minority students are about four years behind other young people. Indeed, 17 year-old African American and Latino students have skills in English, mathematics and science similar to those of 13-year-old white students.”

Another way to measure the achievement gap is to compare the highest level of educational attainment for various groups. Here too there are gaps at all levels.

Hispanic and African-American high school students are more likely to drop out of high school in every state. Of these high school graduates, college matriculation rates for African-American and Hispanic high-school students remain below those of white high-school graduates – although they have risen in recent years. Furthermore, of those students enrolling in college, Hispanic and black young adults are only half as likely to earn a college degree as white students.

Evidence of progress

Despite these challenges, several states have demonstrated that the achievement gap can be reduced – if not entirely closed. For instance, according to the Education Trust:

  • Texas: Here, NAEP writing scores for eighth-grade African-Americans are equal to or higher than the writing scores of white students in seven states.
  • Virginia: This state boasts one of the nation’s smallest achievement gaps between whites and Hispanics. Here, eighth-grade Hispanic students had the highest NAEP writing scores for Hispanic students in any state.
  • Department of Defense (DOD) schools: Despite high mobility, minority students in DOD schools do better on NAEP than their counterparts, yielding a smaller achievement gap. Fourth-grade white students in DOD schools outscored their African-American counterparts by an average of 17 points on the NAEP reading test – a considerably smaller gap than the national average of 32 points.

What some states are doing

Several states have initiated various strategies to alleviate the achievement gap. For instance:

  • Texas: This state’s accountability system requires schools to show each year a minimum proficiency level (percent proficient) in each student subgroup. In the five years since this legislation was enacted, the percentage of African-American students passing statewide exams rose by 31%, and the percentage of Hispanic students passing the exam rose by 29%. Meanwhile, the percentage of white students passing the exam grew by only 18%. This means the achievement gap in Texas closed by 13% and 11% for African-American and Hispanic students, respectively.
  • North Carolina: Governor Michael Easley has appointed an Education First task force to examine best practices from high-performing schools, in order to learn how to close the achievement gap. The goal of state education leaders is to eliminate the achievement gap by 2010.
  • Missouri: Here too, a state task force on K-16 issues released a report early in 2002 which concluded that improving teacher quality is the single most important factor in eliminating the achievement gap. The report recommends raising teacher quality through increased accountability, better understanding of urban issues, and financial incentives for teachers in low-performing schools.

In addition to such comprehensive strategies, states also can take many steps within their current policies to reduce persistent gaps in student academic achievement.

Closing the Achievement Gap
NGA Center for Best Practices
Hall of States, 444 N. Capitol St., Washington, D.C. 20001-1512

“For all of the charitable institutions that we’ve seen in the last century, these things do not account for the rise out of poverty of the poorest of the poor… what accounts for this is enterprise – the application of human intelligence, of human action, of human will, of ingenuity into the economic sphere.”  -Rev. Robert Sirico

Enterprise and Wealth Creation

The experience of the last 200 years demonstrates that living standards can be raised even as population density rapidly increases. Innovation and entrepreneurship can and do create new wealth for both the rich and the poor. There are, in other words, enterprise solutions to poverty.

Enterprise can spur wealth creation in several ways. Perhaps the most obvious is through invention, as with the invention and dissemination of the steam engine, or when someone discovers a new use for a natural resource. Oil was little more than a sticky annoyance until inventors figured out how to use it to fuel engines. Telecommunication lines required expensive copper until inventors figured out how to use cheap and abundant sand to produce fiber optic lines.

A less obvious way that business enterprise boosts the rate of wealth creation is through division of labor. At its best, this process frees individuals to focus on jobs that they are especially suited and trained for.

In Mad About Trade, Daniel Griswold uses World Bank figures to summarize the extraordinary progress that the world has made against poverty. For all of human history until 1800, the vast majority of the world’s population lived on a subsistence income. As gains from invention, the division of labor and global trade increased, the proportion of the world’s population living in dire poverty halved by 1950. Between 1980 and 2005, the proportion of the world’s population living in dire poverty halved again. That these improvements came during periods of significant population growth indicates that the world’s workers had become rapidly more productive.

Wealth Creation in Developing Nations

Development economists increasingly are focusing on encouraging wealth-generating enterprise as the most sustainable method for countries to move from poverty to prosperity. Such efforts are moving forward along several paths, including microfinance, angel investing in small-to-medium size enterprises; and efforts to reform government and lower trade barriers. Churches are also playing a role in such work by supporting microfinance efforts and through efforts at moral formation and cultural transformation, which in turn helps entrepreneurs in the developing world realize their full potential.

Business Enterprise as a Worthy Calling

Many view business enterprise as greed-based, an attitude that prevents many people from supporting and encouraging enterprise solutions to poverty. In an effort to remove this obstacle, champions of enterprise solutions to poverty note that greed exists in every profession, and that entrepreneurs need not be greedy in order to start and run a successful business. An entrepreneur might be motivated by greed; but she also may be motivated simply by a desire to make a better product, or to provide better opportunities for his or family and community. Labor directed toward the production of something that benefits other people is a worthwhile endeavor. Through such work, people find fulfillment and contribute to the common good.

The Role of Government in Enterprise

The idea that government is the primary source of wealth is mistaken.   The experience of Communist economies in the twentieth century demonstrated that, while a domineering state could accelerate industrial development in some cases, it could do so only at immense human cost and at an immense cost to long-term development.

At the same time, government does have a crucial role in the process of wealth creation. Establishing the consistent rule of law where property is protected and contracts enforced is a necessary condition for thriving businesses and the economic growth they bring. When government is riddled with corruption, enacts excessive levels of taxation, or imposes excessive regulatory requirements, business enterprise is stifled and the creative potential of a nation’s citizens remains largely untapped. In sum, governments promote wealth creation by promoting justice and protecting economic freedom.

See: http://www.povertycure.org – Advancing Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty