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Saturday, December 25, 2010

How are merit pay, charter schools and vouchers going to fix poverty

By Cynthia McCabe

This week’s release of international education rankings placing U.S. students in the middle of the pack for reading and science and below average in math contained few surprises. But what might have been overlooked in the horse race coverage of how the students stacked up is an economic link that further supports the argument that their poverty levels are potentially the most significant factors in their success.

The head of the National Association of Secondary School Principals took a closer look at how the U.S. reading scores compared with the rest of the world’s, overlaying it with the statistics on how many of the tested students are in the government’s free and reduced lunched program for students below the poverty line. Here’s what he found:

* In schools where less than 10 percent of students get free or reduced lunch, the reading score is 551. That would place those U.S. students at No. 2 on the international ranking for reading, just behind Shanghai, China which topped the ranking with a score of 556.

* In schools where 75 percent or more of the students get free or reduced lunch, the reading score was 446. That’s off the bottom of the charts, below last-place Greece’s 483.

Money matters and countless studies have demonstrated a link between parents’ income and students’ test scores.

“These data remind us that U.S. schools do rather well by students who come to school ready to learn, but it’s impossible to ignore the persistent correlation between poverty and performance,” said Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the association (at right). “Once again, we’re reminded that students in poverty require intensive supports to break past a condition that formal schooling alone cannot overcome.”

Tirozzi points out that other nations sort students into professional and labor tracks in early teen years. Not so in the U.S., where educators commit to educating all students and encouraging them to high standards into the high school years.

“The release of the (Program for International Student Assessment) data gives school leaders occasion to recommit to that goal” Tirozzi said. “And we hope policymakers and all with a stake in the success of U.S. schools will take this occasion as well not merely to consider the problem, but to recommit with us to solving it.”

Here’s the full chart of disaggregated U.S. reading score data from the PISA results:

When less than 10 percent of students are free and reduced lunch: 551
10 to 24.9 percent: 527
25 to 49.9 percent: 502
50 to 74.9 percent: 471
75 percent or more: 446
U.S. average: 500
International average: 493

1 comment:

  1. America should start with stopping the outsourcing of American public schools to the Gulen Movement. They are opening charter schools at an alarming rate and currently manage over 140 charter schools in the USA and making off with Millions in Tax money that is ultimately being laundered to the Gulen NGOs and back to their native Turkey. Their schools are below standard and are not good, it is just a cheap way of outsourcing our children's education. How pathetic Americans have become.