Every Child Included

May 19, 2016 by

Meet the Urgency of Education through Secondary Public Schools
By J. Bert Freeman, Haberman Foundation National Trainer

Most of us know that significant achievement gaps in education still exist among students in many schools and districts across the country. For many years it has impacted African American, Hispanic and Low Income youth and their communities, particularly in the inner cities – large and small. It has impacted employability, home ownership, economic development, postsecondary education, rates of conviction and more. Academic improvement can be accelerated among African American, Hispanic and Low Income students in our public schools.

There is enough research to tell us that today, more than ever:

  • Viable employment requires some education beyond high school.
  • High percentages of African American, Hispanic and Low Income students in public schools require significant improvement in academic performance as evidenced in course grades as well as standardized tests. The need exists particularly in mathematics.
  • The strongest influence on academic improvement is the classroom teacher.
  • The next strongest influence on academic improvement is the school.
  • Success in mathematics is one of the strongest indicators of success in post-secondary education.
  • ‘High expectations’ is one of the strongest influences on achievement. That means teachers having high expectations for themselves as well as for their students. That is certainly evident among ‘STAR Teachers’as evidenced by Haberman Educational Foundation research.
  • Among secondary students (grades 6-12), the probability of meeting and exceeding gradelevel performance and standards and qualifications for post secondary education increases when there is a positive adult influence.
  • Increasing the emphasis on the academic improvement of ‘students most in need of improvement’ increases the overall achievement of the school or district (at the inclusion of efforts for all, rather than at the expense of anyone).

I have been involved with K-12 educators since 1987 in business, as a volunteer, as a parent, evaluator and staff developer. Here are some necessary actions to accelerate the academic achievement of African American, Hispanic and Low income students in our public schools:

1. Define success as: students meeting and exceeding grade level requirements and expectations and students exceeding qualifications for college and career readiness.

2. Assign an academic advisor to each secondary student who is most in need of improvement. If the school or district has a mentor program, then train the mentors to also be academic advisors.

3. Increase the emphasis on academic performance in mathematics for students most in need of improvement, at the same level of emphasis as reading or beyond.

4. Even though there is an effort to increase resources for early childhood education, there must be at least an equal and even more urgent effort for secondary education. As much as development for the future is important, improving graduation rates and qualification for post-secondary education, now, is essential. This must also be done at the inclusion of every student, rather than at the expense of any student.

5. To increase the grade level performance in mathematics among secondary students, teachers of mathematics must be at the decision-making table and also working in teams in every high school and middle school. They must have the full support of their education associations, administrators and schools boards. They must establish and execute instructional and classroom management strategies that accelerate secondary student achievement in mathematics at every grade level, 6 thru 12. Also it must be understood that only teachers of mathematics can teach mathematics beyond pre-algebra. Parents, employers, post secondary institutions must rely on their expertise.

6. Understand that ‘closing the achievement gap’ means that the achievement of all students increases while the achievement of the students most in need of improvement accelerates to ‘catch up’, in time to meet and exceed the qualifications for post-secondary education. When making ‘new hire’ teacher selections, ensure that potential hires are equipped to accelerate student achievement (example: using the Haberman Teacher Selection Interview).

7. Provide the staff development for secondary mathematics educators that equips them as teams to exercise Teachers’ WIT (Whatever It Takes) for students to meet and exceed grade level performance and standards and to exceed qualifications for post-secondary education.

8. Educators must exercise high expectations for their students and for themselves, whatever the circumstances, however students act. When this is done as a team, it surrounds students with excellence.

9. Rather than emphasizing mathematics at the expense of reading, emphasize mathematics while still including reading programs.

10. Work with and assist parents to keep academic achievement at the forefront of what happens in the schools, even in matters of discipline.

Why emphasize resources for improvement in secondary mathematics? It is simply because the urgencies exist now and we can see what they are. Large achievement gaps in secondary education (grades 6-12) exist in mathematics (achievement gaps are most often expressed by race or by socio- economic status). Mathematics is a strong indicator of academic success. Only teachers of mathematics can teach mathematics beyond pre-algebra; we need their help as well as their expertise.

In addition to the needed changes to “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) the new ESEA “Every Child Succeeds Act” most appropriately is a ‘move torward’ title compared to the NCLB which was a ‘move away from’ title. That reinforces the consistency of what must be done to be focused in a positive direction.

We all know educators. Some of us are educators. Let’s take whatever opportunities we have to address this urgency that has existed for years. It still exists and it is nationwide. The data and information tell us that the urgency is clear. There needs to be significant concentration and emphasis on improving mathematics performance in secondary schools among African American, Hispanic and Low Income students. It is also important that we focus forward in whatever we do. That will accelerate progress even more. That will make the difference between nationwide world-class public education and average education.

J. Bert Freeman (Bert) is a Haberman Educational Foundation National Trainer and Certified Interviewer for selection of ‘Star Teachers’ for inner city schools, http://habermanfoundation.org/NationalTrainers.aspx.   He is the author of Taking Charge of Your Positive Direction, the Unity of Effort manual Organizational ESP for Educators (Excellence on the Same Page), the book and audio CD Your Positive Direction NOW. He is the Founder of T.A.L.K. Associates, providing expert assistance to educators for years, in matters of organizational unity of effort, leadership consistency, positive direction communication skills and teacher selection. He is joined by a team of independent educational facilitators and experts at all levels. Since 2000, He has authored and co-authored numerous program evaluations for schools, districts and statewide programs in Delaware. J. Bert Freeman is also a positive direction expert, facilitator and speaker. He has a reputation for practicing the Consistent Positive Direction that he teaches.

T.A.L.K. Associates is a Common Core State Standards National Endorsing Partner.

For more information go to: http://www.positivedirection.net/for_educators-areas_of_expertise.htm  or contact Bert at jbertfreeman@positivedirection.net.

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