Solving Big City Educational Problems…

From a Practical Point of View

If one point must be made, it is to reveal a more complete picture of today’s urban education. This population comprises about half of our total student body — and, sadly, is responsible for our greatest dropout and lowest student success rates that necessitates ever growing remedial programs. In spite of all the educational hype and misrepresentation of our “successes”, we can’t make people into rocket scientists until we first teach them how to make change from a dollar. Suffice it to say, enormous thought has gone into our project as well as the need to affect change in the greatest at-risk populations in learning. EXCL in Education embodies all of the most important elements of a pragmatic fix to the problems in education.

Now that there is almost universal support for common educational standards, there is great concern by the head of the American Federation of teachers that test results would indicate the possibility of substandard teaching. In defense of many excellent and dedicated teachers, the question must be asked, “When you are trained in one method of instruction that is quickly replaced by another and then another, and so on, how could there NOT be problems in delivery by instructors — and confusion on the part of the students (as well as their parents) by a lack of learning continuity?” As a result of poor administrative decision-making by constantly modifying teaching practices, problems arise in every aspect of learning.

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Every large district is in trouble, but there are literally billions of dollars of behind-the-scenes money available for districts to buy in every student into EXCL in Education. At about $100 per student per year this project will be very successful while solving the country’s educational problems while offering 24/7 teaching support. Truly a win-win if there has ever been one.

The successful Proof Of Concept survey (where the student breakdown reflected an exact microcosm of the district), demonstrates how successful this tool can be. Please note that this study is based on a primarily poor Hispanic population in a large, dysfunctional school district. The students just completed an entire year of pre-algebra and should have been 100% proficient, yet only scored 47% passing before our lesson — BUT, after EXCL’s lesson, raised their scores to 77% passing after the lesson. This was done without incentives. Adding prizes should provide a growth greater than 30%. The best part is that it showed that good teaching sticks since there was no loss of learning after 4 months. It is inconceivable that these grades would not increase with the offer of prizes for students meeting educational goals.

The main issues are these:

  • Inner city districts are composed of mostly poor, Hispanic and African-American students who score the lowest on standardized tests and have the lowest success rates.
  • All districts seem oblivious to the existence of the negative culture of learning now pervasive in America. NO new educational method will work without changing the desire for students to learn and teachers to teach — and certainly none as economical as EXCL in Education.
    • The nation’s largest 100 school districts (1% of all districts) represent the inner city and account for 22% of the total student population of which:
      • 62.7% are Black and Hispanic.
      • 55.9% are economically disadvantaged that also includes white and Asian students.
    • The nation’s largest 500 school districts (3% of all districts) represent the inner city and account for 43% of the total student population of which:
      • 55.1% are Black and Hispanic, and
      • 51.2% are economically disadvantaged that also includes white and Asian students.

Scores of at-risk populations (< 50% proficient) are highlighted below:

Large Districts = disproportionately poor, disproportionately ethnic, disproportionally lacking academic achievement

California STAR results 2012

 

Percentage of Students Scoring at Proficient and Above by Subgroup

 

Asian 77
White 62
Hispanic or Latino 42
Black or African American 36

 

Percentage of Students Scoring at Proficient and Above by Economics

Economically Disadvantaged 43
Not Economically Disadvantaged 64

National Center for Education Statistics (Disadvantaged = Free/reduced lunch)

Table 2.— Percentage of public elementary and secondary school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and percentage enrollment by race and ethnicity in the 100 and 500 largest school districts in the United States and jurisdictions: School year 2008–09 (most recent)

 

School District characteristic All Districts 100 largest 500 largest
Membership eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, of those schools that reported free and reduced-price Lunch 45.2 55.9 51.2
Percentage enrollment by race and ethnicity – American Indian/Alaska Native 1.3 0.5 0.7
Asian/Pacific Islander 4.9 7.7 6.9
Hispanic 22.3 36.8 32.1
Black 16.8 25.9 23.0
White 54.3 28.9 36.9
(>63%
at-risk)
(>55%
at-risk)

Observations:

  • Inner city school districts are imploding but continue to give students a false sense of success by rewarding disproportional numbers of students with honor roll status — yet few have competitive skills for college (Little Hoover Report).
  • By contrast, often a successful day for inner city teachers is to finish the day unharmed or without incident. Teaching and Learning can only suffer.
  • Inner city instructors are not well prepared to teach and yet are the primary sources for student learning (LA Study).
  • Clearly, the currently national learning process is deficient when ALL ethnitities are failing ( < 50% proficient —  Wall Street Journal article)
  • Busing students to and fro to try and achieve educational parity is costly, not energy efficient and causes pollution. The last thing that large cities need is more traffic — especially if the costs and ecological damage far outweighs the benefits.
  • Even near-bankrupt districts have back-end money available but often squander this capital with poor management.

The solution:

EXCL in Education, being outside the domain of government and school districts, can address problems associated with, and improve success rates of, at-risk students as well as the instructors who teach them by adding incentives to the learning process. Online tutorials presented by the best instructors well-versed in all major learning systems must increase learning proficiency in students as well as aid in professional development in other instructors. Monetary rewards for presenting instructors and the possibility of winning prizes of value for students will create incentives for achievement by all.

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The Hispanic population, the largest of these at-risk groups, is more susceptible to failure because they, more than most, trust in the broken system. The attached letter from “a typical Hispanic student” says it all. But we, who are in the business of education, know that this way of doing business has become epidemic for all. It seems, the more the paperwork generated by schools as to what will be accomplished, the less is actually accomplished. The fixing of public schools is repeatedly proven to be outside the expertise of public administrators.

In the May 2013 budget revision, the governor of California allocated quite a sum of money to implement The Common Core Standards in education. It is assumed that all subscribing states have committed substantial sums of money as well.

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Teachers (both locally and nationally) who need help with the new Standards can learn INEXPENSIVELY online by using EXCL in Education — while those who have mastered the objectives can make their lessons available to all AND earn a royalty for their special expertise. After all, nothing teaches teachers better than seeing those with a similar style demonstrate familiar techniques. And, hopefully, these teacher-learners will become presenters and improve on lessons while garnering royalties themselves. As for the students, educational goals can be met while making a strong showing in testing AND qualifying to earn special prizes of value in the process.

Should states opt out of the Common Core, they should consider replacing it with Common Educational Goals, the real crux of learning. Then, local systems could pick the best system of learning based on proven data accumulated through EXCL. If the students of those instructors who declare themselves to represent system A average 60% proficiency over all educational goals in a certain course, and students who have learned from system B teachers average 80%, then without looking, I know that system B is better. Prospective employers want more capable workers who possess more skills — not how they acquire them.

Can you imagine a better way to start off such an ambitious project to nationally unify the basics of learning than to have teachers prepared to teach and students excited to learn? By making the lessons of the best teachers (by virtue of achieving the highest post-testing scores) available to educators at large, the goals of both Ms. Weingarten (speaking for the AFT) and the Department of Education would be met.

As previously written, the creation of EXCL in Education can help facilitate all of what is needed to assist in achieving everyone’s immediate and future goals for education. We can become THE educational repository for teaching and learning by housing the content from the best instructors representing their favorite systems of learning — and once again take our spot atop the world’s pinnacle of learning.