Raise expectations

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The article "City Schools Rewarded for Student Academic Growth" (Nov. 20) was a nice, positive view on the state of public schools in Pennsylvania. However, the passing comment that Mathematica Policy Research "adjusted expected achievement for certain factors, such as poverty, which would lower the amount of expected growth" greatly disturbed me. As a teacher from a low-income elementary school, I feel strongly that a major reason many low-income students struggle to make significant gains is because nobody expects them to!

Could those researchers tell students face to face that they do not expect them to improve at the same rate as their high-income peers, just because their parents make less money? The whole article is about how overall proficiency levels tell more about students than it does the school. Just because those students are starting at a lower proficiency level does not mean they can't improve at the same rate. In my experience, with targeted high-quality instruction and positive reinforcement, students starting at low levels often improve rapidly.

Why should expectations for improvement be lower for schools and students that desperately need to improve? If we do not start holding all schools accountable to change students' trajectories, we will feel the long-term effects when another generation joins the work force.




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