Thursday, October 13, 2011

Five strategies for creating a level playing field so that under-resourced students are provided the resources they need to bring them up to par with their middle class counterparts.


Five strategies for creating a level playing field so that under-resourced students are provided the resources they need to bring them up to par with their middle class counterparts. 
From Mel Riddle's The Principal Difference Blog:

Strategies 
While educators cannot cure poverty, we can recommend strategies that will create a level playing field so that under-resourced students are provided the resources they need to bring them up to par with their middle class counterparts. 
1. Early Childhood Education
If we know that children in poverty will arrive at school two to three years behind, why do we wait for the train wreck? "The bipartisan New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce has recommended that public education begin at age 3 for American students. And studies show that the best early childhood programs are staffed by teachers with college degrees and early education certification, offer developmentally appropriate education, include a focus on language development and comprehensive services such as meals and health and developmental screenings and encourage parental involvement." 
2. Best Teachers and Principals
Provide incentives for teachers and principals to work in under-resourced schools. The current strategy of "blame and punish" only serves to drive out the most qualified.
3. Funding
Finally, we must acknowledge that it simply costs more to educate some students. We already admit that it costs more to educate special needs and language-learners, why not poor students?
4. Literacy
Reading and writing skills are the great equalizers helping under-resourced students achieve at middle class levels. We know that poor children lack literacy skills, and, therefore, we must provide direct, explicit literacy instruction beginning the day they first arrive at school and every day thereafter.
5. Time
In order to level the playing field, we must provide under-resourced students more time to learn. It's not about ability. These students don't lack ability. They lack resources and supports. Time is the key. If we hold learning time constant, student achievement looks like a bell curve. We need to provide longer school years, after school tutoring and tiered interventions for all students but particularly for children living in poverty.

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