Saturday, October 28, 2006

Closing the Gap, Child by Child -

Closing the Gap, Child by Child -

In 2004, Gates, the principal, was stunned by scores showing that just two-fifths of his black students had passed the state reading test, compared with three-fourths of his white students.

Even before that year, the school had sought to raise minority student performance. (Scores among Hispanics at the school and others in the county were also a problem.) Hollin Meadows offered after-school tutoring and recruited volunteers to mentor selected students. Gates said the school had energetic teachers. But it wasn't enough.

In retrospect, Gates blamed a tendency to "teach to the middle." He said lessons too often were aimed toward the majority and were not tailored enough to individual students. So teachers generally would march through the curriculum on the assumption that students would either learn the material or eventually catch up.

For most children, that approach worked. But in an increasingly diverse school, some fell through the cracks. "We had kids coming in with different needs, and we didn't say, 'We have to meet you where you are at,' " Gates said.
Why did it take NCLB to force educators to acknowledge what school reformists have been telling them for decades?

Ladson-Billings cited an elementary school in Madison where black students trailed white students. She found that some basic lessons -- such as learning sounds that correspond with letters -- went untaught.

"What teachers said to us is, 'We don't actually teach that,' " Ladson-Billings said. "Most middle-class kids were learning that at home."

Well duh! I know that many teachers and educators have their own kids. Is there some sort of disconnect between what they observe at home and what they do in the classrooms?

Educator's need to come over to my house someday and see what I have to supplement. I spend my afternoons teaching multiplication tables, factoring, algebra, phonics, history, and just about every other subject that should be taught at home. Somehow I manage to teach all these subjects to my five school age kids is a very limited amount of time. Is it too much to ask the teachers to do it at school?