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

Friday, November 07, 2014

Our problem is not teacher quality: Our problem is poverty.

Sent to Time Ideas (Nov. 7).
Re: How to ditch the common core and teach kids real skills (Time Ideas, Nov 5, 2014)

Marty Nemko suggests that we need "dream-team" teachers because American students' performance on international tests is so bad.  A substantial amount of research shows, however, that when we control for the impact of poverty, American test scores are at the top of the world. Our overall scores are unspectacular because there is so much child poverty in US, now 25%.  High-scoing countries have much lower levels of child poverty.

Our problem is not teacher quality: Our problem is povery.

Many studies confirm that poverty has a devasting effect on school performance:  The dream team, "the world’s most inspiring, transformational teachers" will have little effect when students are poorly fed, ill because of lack of health care, and read poorly because of lack of access to books.

Let's at least protect children from the effect of poverty with improved food programs, health care, and school libraries.  These are the crucial elements of the Deeam School Dr. Nembo discusses. Improved nutrition, basic health care and access to books will improve school performance, but in addition, it is the right thing to do.  

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: https://time.com/3559588/how-to-ditch-the-common-core-and-teach-kids-real-skills/


Child Poverty rate: UNICEF, 2007. An Overview of Child-Well Being in Rich Countries. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Report Card 7. The United Nations Childrens Fund).

Control for poverty: Control for effect of poverty: Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).

Protecting children against the impact of poverty:
 "Strengthening food programs,  increading health care, providing more access to books": Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential:  Out-of-School Factors and School Success.  Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential;  
Krashen, S., Lee, SY, and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is The Library Important? Multivariate Studies at the National and International Level Journal of Language and Literacy Education: 8(1). http://jolle.coe.uga.edu/

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