"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Not just Cleveland

Poverty is the major factor everywhere, not just Cleveland.

Sent to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Feb. 5, 2010

When discussing the Cleveland schools, Brent Larkin understands that it is hard to improve school achievement in the presence of "abject poverty" ("Peter Raskind starts atop bottomed-out Cleveland public schools," Feb. 5). But when Larkin discusses American students' performance on international tests, he appears to be unaware that the same factor is at work.

On the recent PISA tests, American 15-year-olds attending schools with less than 10% of students living in poverty averaged 551 on the reading test, second in the world. Our overall scores are unspectacular (tied for 10th out of 60 countries on the reading test) because we have a high percentage of children living in poverty, over 20%. This is the highest among all industrialized countries. In contrast, child poverty in high-scoring Finland is less than 4%.

For Cleveland and for the US as a whole, the major problem is poverty. Before we worry about teacher quality, institute longer school days, and increase testing, we need to make sure that all children are protected from the effects of poverty: This means adequate health care and nutrition, and access to books. When we do this, American test scores will be at the top of the world.

Stephen Krashen

Original article at: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/02/raskind_starts_atop_bottomed-o.html

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