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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:

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Breaking News from Austin


“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,, All rights are reserved

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Started Late But Doing Great!

I am a first year Project Manager in an elementary school.  Unlike many of the other project managers, I did not get to participate in the trainings and preview days many schools had before school started, so I am learning it all as I go.  My Program Director has been AH-MAZING!  I started my CIS journey two weeks after school started so you can only imagine the whirlwind so far.  Apparently, I look a lot like the previous project manager so when the kids came to say hello and get a big hug my first week, I had NO idea who the kids were (I do now, though!) but they “knew” me!  I played along, at first, but they all certainly know who I am now.

My fourth week into it, I have about 31 students on my case load and many more to bring into the program.  Learning all their names has been challenging but I surprised myself with how fast I am learning.  My first field trip with the students is next Friday, so I cannot wait for that experience.  Many of the kids stop by to chat almost every day and I love that they can confide in me and are so willing to ask for help.

I cannot believe it is already October and although this semester has barely started, before we know it, it will be all over!  My personal goal is to have all the kids’ names down by the end of this month.   It’s pretty tough when I enroll new kiddos almost every day.  As a new CIS employee, I am blown away with everything I have seen so far from the kids, faculty at my school and other CIS staff.  It has been a great start to my CIS journey and I know it will continue to get better and better!

Gabrielle Solis

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Excitement & Anticipation

Now that it’s August, the countdown to the start of the new school year has officially begun.  While I know lots of kids are probably dreading retuning to school, I was always one of the (not so cool) ones that looked forward to it.  There’s so much excitement and anticipation of what the year might bring.  I would spend the weeks leading up to the first day of school carefully planning my perfect “first day outfit”, stocking my backpack with pretty new notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils and constantly wondering about the new year: Will my friends and I have the same lunch period?  Will Mrs. Jones be as hard as I’ve heard she is?  Will there be any cute boys in my classes?  Will I make the volleyball team?

Unfortunately for many of the students that our CIS social workers work with, their concerns are slightly different.  A typical CIS student might be wondering, will I be able to get the school supplies that I need?  Will I have breakfast the morning of the first day so that my stomach isn’t growling during class?  Will this be the year that I can finally pass Algebra and go on to the next grade?  Will my mom be able to get the car fixed so that I can have a way to get to school every day?  Will I finally be able to make some friends so that I don’t have to sit at the lunch table alone every day?

When it comes to dealing with these kinds of issues, there’s no time to waste.  The social workers begin working on ways to help our CIS kids overcome various obstacles before the school year even begins.  All of the school staff returned from summer break on Monday and will be spending the next two weeks attending trainings on topics like navigating the Medicaid system, dealing with bullying and preventing teen dating violence.  They will also be learning about and networking with local agencies and community resources that are available to help our students.

The CIS social workers recognize that many students are dealing with obstacles that have a significant impact on school performance and put them at a higher risk of dropping out of school.  It’s the social worker’s job to find ways to help the students and families address those obstacles so that the students can focus on being successful in school.  Finding solutions isn’t always easy, but our social workers have the “whatever it takes” attitude and are constantly motivated by seeing the positive impacts that they can have on the lives of our CIS kids and their families.

I still spend the weeks leading up to the first day of school filled with excitement and anticipation—but now it’s because I can’t wait to see the changes that we can make in our schools and in our students’ lives.

-Alison Sanburg, LMSW

Program Director