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US Grad Rates Increase, Special Programs Credited

The latest numbers from the Department of Education show increases in graduation rates at both the national and state level, with a notable increase among Texas students (READ MORE). These gains are largely credited to programs and initiatives which are deliberate in providing one-on-one support for struggling students. Today, more than ever, “schools are taking aggressive action, such as hiring intervention specialists who work with students one on one,” to keep at-risk students in school and on the path toward graduation. This is the model that CIS implements every day, reaching more than 25,000 Tarrant County students each year and 1.3 million students nationwide.

Support CIS today, because it works.

Newsday Article


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No Rich Child Left Behind

At Communities In Schools, we are all too familiar with poverty’s effects on youth and their education. We found the following article interesting, as it dispels some rumors about the correlation of family income and education and uncovers some shocking truths. Do you find the statistics shocking?

We have included a portion of the article, “No Rich Child Left Behind” by Stanford professor Sean F. Reardon below.

“Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.

Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.

What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.

One way to see this is to look at the scores of rich and poor students on standardized math and reading tests over the last 50 years. When I did this using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, I found that the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago.

To make this trend concrete, consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000.

In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children’s success in school than race.

The same pattern is evident in other, more tangible, measures of educational success, like college completion. In a study similar to mine, Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski, economists at the University of Michigan, found that the proportion of students from upper-income families who earn a bachelor’s degree has increased by 18 percentage points over a 20-year period, while the completion rate of poor students has grown by only 4 points.

In a more recent study, my graduate students and I found that 15 percent of high-income students from the high school class of 2004 enrolled in a highly selective college or university, while fewer than 5 percent of middle-income and 2 percent of low-income students did.

These widening disparities are not confined to academic outcomes: new research by the Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam and his colleagues shows that the rich-poor gaps in student participation in sports, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and church attendance have grown sharply as well.

In San Francisco this week, more than 14,000 educators and education scholars have gathered for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The theme this year is familiar: Can schools provide children a way out of poverty?”Image

To continue reading about the effects on poverty and education and possible solutions, read the full article at: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/


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Public Education in the 2014-2015 budget

Here is a post we thought was worth sharing discussing the future public education budget!

Repost from http://www.alicetx.com/opinion/article_9866063b-f629-5a46-8696-ff1ce9c48aa3.html

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed SB 1, the 2014-2015 Appropriations Bill, by a vote of 135 to 12. The House Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1 appropriated just under $194 billion over two years for all funding sources. This funding level represents an increase in 2.1 percent over the 2012-2013 appropriations level for the biennium.

Earlier this session, I spoke about Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ announcement that the state would have $101.4 billion to spend in 2014, which represented an increase of 12.4 percent over 2011 levels. This approved budget for the next biennium would appropriate roughly $194 billion in total spending in the 2014-2015, which encompasses the general revenue funds total of approximately $99 billion. While there are many budget items that deserve comment, I want to focus on how this budget affects public education funding in our state.

The strong economy in our state has enabled us to provide an additional $2.5 billion for public education, a much needed boost to our education system. More specifically, the Foundation School Program (FSP) is appropriated $32.8 billion in General Revenue Funds and General Revenue — Dedicated Funds, a $2.5 billion increase. Apart from the FSP, General Revenue Funds are increased by $192.3 million.

Increases to specific programs include a $230.6 million increase for Instructional Materials Allotment, a $12.6 million increase for Communities in Schools, $8 million increase for the Windham School District, $5 million for Adult Basic Education, $5 million for Texas Advanced Placement Incentives, and an increase of $4 million for Teach for America. These general revenue increases are offset by a decrease of $73.4 million for the funding of state assessments, which could result from the passage of House Bill 5, which reformed the state testing system.

While the 2014-2015 budget does help restore some of the cuts made to public education in our state, more work needs to be done to ensure that resources are in place that effectively promote the educational advancement of our children.


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An Equal Shot at Success

repost from http://www.communitiesinschools.org/blog/

The Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission released a report detailing a five-pronged approach to helping students living in poverty and eliminating the achievement gap.

The report, “For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence,” is designed to guide states and the federal government towards creating an education system that gives all children an equal shot at success. Some of the report’s five recommendations include expanding high-quality early education, better compensating teachers and improving course curricula.

What struck us the most from the Equity and Excellence Commission’s report was the emphasis on mitigating poverty. “States, in partnership with the federal government, should adopt dropout-prevention programs and other alternative-education opportunities for at-risk students,” the report recommends.

Communities In Schools in Tarrant County is on the front lines of the fight against poverty in classrooms. During the 2011-2012 school year, 93 percent of the case-managed students we served were identified as eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. We work to level the playing field and make sure that students get what they need to succeed, including food, clothing health and dental care, school supplies, and other services such as counseling and academic assistance.


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What Can Be Done?

In December, the nation reeled in horror at the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and 6 adults were murdered inside an elementary school.

 People’s minds are flooded with questions as to how and why such a tragedy could occur. What demons possess a young man’s mind that would lead him to destroy innocent lives? Why wasn’t the storm brewing inside Adam Lanza detected earlier and addressed before it escalated into disaster?

 Now we are witnesses to a national mental health conversation and questions about whether there is adequate mental health support for young people available at the school level. Have enough resources been allocated to the early identification of the root causes of such destructive behavior?

 Indeed, many school psychologists and counselors report they are already overburdened…So what more can be done?

 Communities In Schools recognizes the critical need for more social workers inside local schools. Tell us what you think.


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Texas High School Graduation Rates Tied for 3rd in the Nation

According to the US Department of Education, Texas has achieved a graduation rate of 86%. These statistics show Texas is truly making an effort in its education program by providing students a quality learning experience to better equip students for future success. Texas ranked number one in the country for graduation rates among Asian and white students, and tied for first among African-American students.

Students participating in Communities In Schools of Greater Tarrant County programs graduated at a rate of 95% last year, which is higher than the state average. CIS is contributing to these high graduation rates by providing targeted, intensive case management to the most vulnerable students. The dedicated CIS workers are helping support students to ensure they can “succeed in life,” by taking the first step and receiving their high school diploma.

For the full article, please visit: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/news_release.aspx?id=2147510173


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While dropout rates are on the decline, discrepancies in education persist.

According to Child Trends Data Bank, dropout rates have dramatically declined over 50% over the last decades, from 15% in 1972 to only 7% in 2010, but studies show there are still disparities in educational achievement by race and national origin.

Today, a high school diploma is a minimum requirement for most jobs and absolutely necessary to pursue a college education. Students who dropout will have fewer opportunities for employment because they will not possess the critical skills necessary to thrive in today’s work environment.

The Databank identifies numerous factors that contribute to students dropping out:

  • high rates of absenteeism
  • low levels of school engagement
  • low parental education
  • work or family responsibilities
  • problematic or deviant behavior
  • moving to a new school in the ninth grade
  • attending a school with lower achievement score

Studies suggest that high school dropouts are more likely to live in poverty and commit criminal acts. Their lack of participation in the labor force also takes a large toll- “If the dropouts from the nation’s class of 2011 had graduated, the U.S. economy would benefit by about $154 billion dollars over their lifetimes.” (Child Trends, 2012)

For the full article, visit: http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/300.

Data Source: Child Trends (2012) High School Dropout Rates. Retrieved from www.childtrendsdatabank.org/alphalist?q=node/162.


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Look for the Nike Swoosh!

Allan Porowski from ICF International and Heather Clawson from Communities In Schools (CIS) recently completed a five-year, comprehensive evaluation of CIS and discovered some compelling takeaways we wanted to share!

One of the main lessons learned is that “sometimes, you have to catch falling knives.” The students working with CIS were selected because they were on fast, downward spiral concerning to grades, behavior, etc. Contradictory to the old stock market adage, CIS must “catch falling knives” everyday to ensure their services are going to the kids who need help most.

Student’s behavior patterns can be easily visualized by “looking for the Nike swoosh.” At-risk youth generally follow this pattern: “an initial downward slide followed by a longer, more protracted period of improvement.” Changing students’ initial negative behavior and turning their lives around takes time…so patience is a must to allow kids enough time to show improvement!

For the full article, visit: http://aea365.org/blog/?p=6718


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Texas High School Graduation Rates Rising

Report: Texas high school graduation rates rising

WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

Updated 12:12 a.m., Monday, March 19, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ graduation rate for high school students increased 1.9 percent since 2002 to just below the national average, according to a new report by a coalition of education groups.

The report found that high school graduation rates rose from 73.5 percent to 75.4 percent between 2002 and 2009— and pulled almost even with the 2009 average nationwide of 75.5 percent.

The national graduation rate, though, increased faster than the state’s, climbing 2.9 percent over the same 7-year period. The biggest gains nationwide came in Tennessee, where rates jumped 17.8 percent, and New York, which increased 13 percent, between 2002 and 2009.

The report did not provide a state-by-state ranking, but comparing results showed that Texas and Colorado are tied for 28th, just behind Oregon and just ahead of Michigan, Rhode Island and Hawaii. Wisconsin led the nation with a graduation rate of 90.7, while Nevada was last with 56.3 percent.

The report will be presented Monday in Washington at the Building a Grad Nation summit sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, a children’s advocacy organization founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. It was authored by John Bridgeland and Mary Bruce of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm focused on social change, and Robert Balfanz and Joanna Fox of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

The authors used the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate, which tracks first-year students through all their years in high school, since they said it was the best and most-recent data available nationwide.

More good news for Texas came in the state’s percentage of 4th graders testing at or above proficient in reading, which increased a single percentage point to 28 percent between 2003 and last year. The percentage of 8th graders testing at or above proficient in math also jumped from 25 percent to 40 percent over the same period.

Texas is in the first year of implementing a new standardized testing system, and some districts have drawn criticism for spending more time preparing kids for statewide exams than they do on actual classroom instruction. But Robert Scott, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as head of the Texas Education Agency, has maintained that students statewide are improving in reading, math and science — and that their high school graduation rates have increased — despite more-strenuous standardized testing.

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Breaking News from Austin

COMMISSIONER SCOTT TELLS EDUCATORS THE SYSTEM HAS BECOME A PERVERSION OF ORIGINAL INTENT

“I cannot and will not certify the ban on social promotions unless there are resources to provide interventions to students who need to pass the test.”

Robert Scott, in a speech before superintendents and school board trustees this afternoon, pulled the biggest gun out of the education commissioner’s arsenal to guarantee lawmakers will start sending new money to schools next session.

Scott’s speech to the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Midwinter Conference was probably the best speech ever has given to the group during his years as interim and permanent commissioner. In it, he included an apology for the recent $4 billion in education funding cuts, plus the $1.4 billion carved out of the state education agency, much of which went to raising student achievement.

Too much has been loaded onto the state’s current accountability system, Scott said, a system which is dominated by a growing number of high-stakes tests that Scott generally supports. That includes a new requirement that high school students pass 12 end-of-course tests in order to graduate, starting with the Class of 2015.

“I believe that testing is good for some things, but the system that we created has become a perversion of its original intent,” Scott said, to thunderous applause from the school officials. “The intent to improve teaching and learning has gone too far afield, and I look forward to reeling it back in.”

So how does the education commissioner do that, when the power to broaden graduation requirements is given to the Legislature, and the power to set standards and curriculum is shared with the State Board of Education? In this case, Scott is going to turn to a provision in law added by Democrat Sen. Royce West when the accountability system recently was overhauled and new requirements added.

“As we move into implementation of end-of-course exams and STAAR, I believe that additional resources will be needed in the future,” Scott said. “And I will tell you that the legislative appropriations request that the agency makes to the next Legislature will reflect that, and I will say this as well, and this is going to get me in trouble when I tell you but the law says it anyway, I cannot and will not certify the ban on social promotions unless there are resources to provide interventions to students who need to pass the test. That is the law. And I cannot and will not do so unless those resources are appropriated by the next legislature.”

That’s one long complicated quote, right? And it’s hard to know, on its surface, exactly what it means without putting in a call from West, who has a clear understanding what such a decision might mean.

“When we passed the legislation several years ago – the legislation with all the social promotion consequences when kids failed to pass high-stakes testing – the state agreed that it would provide the resources necessary in order to make certain all students could pass the test,” West said. “I made the point that if the state doesn’t live up to its part of this partnership, then the children shouldn’t be held accountable for the passage of those tests. That’s what’s meant by certifying.”

So this is how it would go down: Scott would carry an appropriations request to the Legislature. The Legislature would choose to either fund or partially fund that request. If Scott’s not sufficiently confident that the funding will cover the cost of higher standards in classrooms around the state, then he can choose not to certify and render the state’s entire testing system null and void.

How that would play out is hard to imagine and possibly a huge headache for lawmakers, many of whom are not enamored of the current testing system. Would tests count for school ratings but not for student performance? If that section of law is voided, even temporarily, how will students graduate?

“I wouldn’t say that takes the accountability system off the table, but if we’re not providing the resources, the kids shouldn’t be responsible for passing the tests,” West said. “We need to have the revenue necessary to provide the resources.”

How Scott, possibly in conjunction with higher education commissioner Raymund Paredes, would determine the magic number that constitutes sufficient funding is still an open question. West’s amendment was silent on that issue, possibly giving Scott broad latitude to decide sufficient funding levels.

For his part, West, who fought for additional education funding last session, is happy to hear Scott’s commitment to funding.

“I applaud the commissioner for recognizing and taking this responsibility seriously,” West said. “He needs to make certain that the state does its part to get the resources to the classroom for this high-stakes testing that we’re doing in Texas.”

By Kimberly Reeves

Copyright January 31, 2012, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved