Investing in college readiness at urban elementary and middle school levels is one of the most important tasks that educators can make. Contemporary educators, policymakers and parents have questioned the efficacy of schools serving primarily minority and low-income students. For far too long, the prevailing narrative that surrounds the schooling experiences of minority and low-income students has been dominated by tales of academic failure, behavioral problems, disengaged parents, and abandonment by civic institutions and organizations. Sadly, many teachers, students, and parents have accepted the widespread belief that minority and low-income means academic failure and behavior problems.
Dear Student From Hell:
I see you. I see your struggles every day. When other people call you “the student from hell” what they mean is that you create hell for them in their classroom. I know that you are, actually, living in hellish circumstances. I see that your mother works three jobs and that you are responsible for your younger brothers and sisters even though you are only nine. I see that you work at your family’s business for longer hours than are legally allowed and don’t have time to finish your homework.
By now, we are all familiar with the siren of low test scores. Alternatively, we hear just how very hard schools are working to serve their students. They are trying new things; implementing new programs; differentiating more instruction. But still, we are seeing test scores stagnant or falling. What is happening here? Where is the disconnect between what schools are doing and the results in student achievement? Teachers and leaders will say that they are serving very difficult populations and success is more complicated than test scores. But expectations need to remain high for all students, regardless of their circumstance, right?
Interim assessment is now a well-known practice in schools. We’ve come to be pretty good at measuring our data and plotting out the path for students. Data is now used more effectively, and not only in the classroom but also with on-boarding strategies that immediately place kids in a learning environment best suited for them and and even as a student engagement tool.
Grit. Growth mindset. Perseverance. Stick-to-it-ivness. These buzz words have had their share of time in the limelight as of late. Grit is defined at perseverance and a passion for long term goals. Researchers have identified that grit can be more predictive of success than characteristics such as IQ. Similarly, a growth mindset is defined as the belief in one's ability to increase one's capacity to learn and solve problems.