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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 Association of Business Endorses Communities In Schools

Communities In Schools was recently endorsed by the Texas Association of Business (TAB). TAB represents over 3,000 business members and has been the state’s most influential business association for over 85 years in both Austin and Washington. Along with endorsing CIS, TAB is also asking legislators to “increase funding for CIS during the 83rd Legislative Session.”

Communities In Schools works to prevent students in Tarrant County from dropping out of school by placing licensed social workers into schools to have critical interventions with students most at risk. They have a 98% success rate and helped over 23,000 students last year alone. Bill Hammond, President and CEO of TAB, stated that CIS “has historically reduced absenteeism, modified high risk behaviors, engaged parents, and increased promotion and graduation rates, unlike any other program. In reality, there is no other comprehensive education related non-profit group which is as outcome oriented and reputable as CIS.”

Hammond also expressed his belief that CIS is “driven toward long term gains- converting prospective tax users into prospective tax payers.” This coincides with information recently released by Mike Steele, President and CEO of CIS, explaining that for the first time research has been able to provide a numerical figure to these long term gains, and for every dollar invested into CIS the quantified economic return is $13.30. In addition to endorsing CIS, TAB has also included CIS in their 2013 Legislative Priorities Booklet found on their website at  www.txbiz.org/. Recognition of CIS’s success by this prestigious professional organization is an honor, and CIS looks forward to the positive results from their support in legislation.

 

To learn more about Communities In Schools you can visit our website at www.cistarrant.org


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Report to the Community Recap

Communities In Schools’ 7th annual Report to the Community Breakfast took place on Tuesday, February 5th at The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth. CIS was delighted to share program outcomes with key stakeholders, confirming that their investments are yielding a positive return in the lives of thousands of Tarrant County students. Guests heard a detailed report of the stay-in-school and graduation outcomes for the past school year as well as personal accounts from students served by the program.       

CIS has a strong track record of successfully keeping at-risk students in school and providing them the support they need to graduate. The CIS “report card” from the 2011-2012 school year can be found at http://www.cistarrant.org/about/results. A few key outcomes include:

  • Total Students Served in 38 Schools……………………23,297
  • Intensively Managed Students……………………………3,307

Of those students receiving intensive case management:

  • Stay in School Rate: 98%
  • Improved behavior: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Post Secondary School: 76%

These results confirm the effectiveness of the CIS program. Proof also lies in the personal accounts from students who have worked intensely with CIS social workers, resulting in positive life changes. At the Report to the Community Breakfast, students Emahni Holliday and Christine Thompson shared how CIS intervention has transformed their lives.

Emahni Holliday is a student at Central Junior High School. Emahni has experienced many trials that would be difficult for any child to overcome. At a young age Emahni found herself beginning to act out both at school and at home. Emahni explains she felt “angry” almost all of the time, and eventually she started abusing drugs. It seemed as if no one could correct the path she was on. Emahni then met her CIS social worker and things took a turn for the better. She developed a relationship with her social worker that allowed her to start connecting with those around her, including her Assistant Principal. Then this past Thanksgiving, Emahni’s older brother passed away. In a situation where she would usually react with anger and misbehavior, Emahni has been able to work through her anger and sadness in a healthy way with the help of her CIS social worker and others with whom she has begun to develop relationships. Those around Emahni have noticed the change in her and her future has begun to look very bright. 

Christine Thompson is a senior at Azle High School. Christine’s father operated a meth lab in her house when she was only 6 years old. Her father would leave her and her older brother at home to go on drug deals, and even at such a young age Christine knew she was living a nightmare. After Christine developed a rare lung condition from the fumes of the meth lab, her father was arrested and charged with drug possession, a controlled lab, and two counts of child endangerment. Afterward, Christine was placed into the custody of her mother and step-father and things seemed to be improving. Christine entered high school with a positive attitude, she made the honor roll and was even a member of the school marching band. Things were looking good until she learned her father had passed away. Christine had trouble coping with the devastating news, and her grades slipped as she gave up on her dream of going to college and becoming a nurse. However, it was then Christine was introduced to CIS, a program that she says has “change her life forever.” Christine developed a relationship with her CIS social worker, Ms. Haas, which was a blessing, especially when Christine’s mother was soon thereafter arrested for drug possession. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Christine was able to turn to her social worker, Ms. Haas, to help her through her grief and depression.  Christine pushed through yet another trial in her life, improved her grades, set goals, and was recently accepted to Lubbock Christian University with an academic scholarship to study nursing.

 

If you would like to see more success stories you can visit our website at http://www.cistarrant.org/success-stories.


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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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Working Together Towards a Common Goal

I started working as a social worker and project manager for CIS in January of 2009. This year I started at my third school, Watauga Elementary. I have to say that starting at a new school is just like starting a new job all over again. You have to make many adjustments such as handling new policies, a new environment, new staff, and, most importantly, new students. Each school seems to have a different set of needs, which is something else you must acclimate to. Every school I have worked for has been full of supportive staff and amazing students and for that I feel truly blessed.

One of the first things we learn in our training at CIS is how crucial it is to find the people in your school who will play a big part in helping you serve your students. Changing schools has taught me that these people are different in every school. In my experience, the school counselor has always been my right arm. We have always relied heavily on one another to meet the needs of our students and families. Although I am working with an amazing counselor this year, I have come to learn that our school nurse takes on the role of social worker quite often. Nurse Junge has played a vital role in my ability to serve the students and families at Watauga Elementary. She referred many of my current students and continues to inform me of their needs on a daily basis. If something is going on at this school, she knows about it and she makes sure that I know about it, too. My working relationship with Nurse Junge has made it possible for her to trust me and is critical in my ability to do a good job. This trust has made it possible for me to provide resources and services to many of the students and families at Watauga Elementary. I have learned that being able to identify the key people in your school and build relationships with those people is just as important as any service we provide to our students. The people we connect with and the relationships we nurture are the key to running a successful program.

Heather Yeubanks


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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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Helping Students Beyond the Classrom

Less than a week before the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year I was told I would be placed at Versia L. Williams Elementary to establish a new CIS program. Of course, I was excited about the opportunity to serve a new school but I also expected there to be tons of leg work. As a social worker and project manager with CIS, we are on the front lines and we often find ourselves promoting and implementing our school based stay-in-school program alongside teachers, parents, students, and community members. The effectiveness of the CIS program depends heavily on the partnerships we build with these individuals. So… making a good first impression is priceless!

When I arrived at my new school and began meeting with teachers, staff members, and parents, I noticed a recurrent theme. The well-being and success of students and families is the core of Versia Williams. As an educational institution, the faculty and staff work to ensure students are successful in the classroom, but they also partner with parents to help students achieve success in life. The belief that school professionals, parents, and community members can positively impact the lives of students aligns with the mission of the CIS program and is evident in the work taking place at Versia Williams.

The principal, Mrs. Whatley has formed a strong team of professionals that work together cohesively with one goal in mind, student success. To help accomplish this goal, Versia Williams has master math and reading specialists, a dean of instruction, parent liaison, counselor, school psychologist, and a CIS social worker. In addition to putting together a team of professionals, Mrs. Whatley encourages staff members to collaborate with each other, asses the needs of students and their families, and implement best practices within our specialties to meet identified needs.

With this in mind, the parent liaison and I facilitated a basic computer skills course for parents. The course covered computer basics, such as learning the names and functions of computer hardware, creating an e-mail account, and accessing parent portal (an online database for FWISD parents to monitor their child’s academic progress). Since Versia Williams is a dual language campus, the course was offered in Spanish and English. In addition to providing a computer course for parents, CIS partnered with the Tarrant Area Food Bank to assist parents in completing applications for food stamps to ensure students are not hungry when they arrive at school. The resources and partnerships for each campus served by CIS are unique because they are based upon the current needs of students.

To ensure current needs are met, CIS staff members create and implement a campus plan each semester to help students overcome barriers to success. Campus plans provide a framework for the work that CIS staff do on a daily basis. After reviewing the campus plan, principals are provided an opportunity to share comments regarding the campus plan and Mrs. Whatley’s had this to say…

“Mrs. Rodriguez has developed a thorough and comprehensive plan for our campus. Our campus plan will have a major and positive impact on our students, staff and community. We are very excited about our campus plan and Mrs. Rodriguez has been a great resource and addition to our school family”.

Helping students to achieve is the foundation of the CIS program and it is also the basis for everything we do at Versia Williams. Mrs. Whatley’s comment shows that the CIS program meets a need that many schools, families, and communities share. And as I mentioned previously, first impressions do count!

 

Alecia Rodriguez, LBSW

Versia L. Williams Elementary