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Article

In the United States, policymakers have exhibited a resilient confidence in the idea that reforming urban schools is the essential key to improving the life chances of children, especially African American and Latino youth. Since the mid-1960s in particular, this resonant belief, as articulated in different forms by politicians, interest groups, local communities, and the broader public, has served as motivational impetus for small- and large-scale school change efforts. Despite such apparent unanimity regarding the importance of city schools, disputes have emerged over the proper structural and systemic alterations necessary to improve education. Often at issue has been the notion of just who should and will control change efforts. Moreover, vexing tensions have also characterized the enacted reform initiatives. For instance, urban school policies created by distant, delocalized outsiders have routinely engendered unanticipated local effects and fierce community resistance. In addition, particular urban school reforms have manifested simultaneously as means for encouraging social justice for marginalized youth and as mechanisms for generating financial returns for educational vendors. Regardless of such tensions, faith in urban school reform has persisted, thanks to exemplary city schools and programs that have helped students thrive academically. For many reformers, such success stories demonstrate that viable routes toward enabling academic achievement for more children living in urban areas do indeed exist.

Article

Rebecca J. Collie and Andrew J. Martin

Motivation and engagement are firmly implicated in students’ participation in class, educational aspirations, enjoyment of school, academic learning, and academic achievement. Motivation refers to an individual’s inclination, energy, direction, and drive with respect to learning and achievement. Engagement involves the thoughts, actions, and emotions that reflect this inclination, energy, and drive. There are numerous theories articulating the key elements of students’ motivation and engagement. These theories describe how and why motivation and engagement are important for educational outcomes in their own right, as well as how and why motivation and engagement are important means to other desirable educational outcomes. Given the vast array of different theories in the areas of motivation and engagement, researchers have made calls to integrate the body of knowledge that has amassed. The Motivation and Engagement Wheel is an example of a multidimensional framework that traverses salient motivation and engagement factors from major theory and research. These factors encompass positive motivation constructs (self-efficacy, valuing, and mastery orientation), positive engagement constructs (planning, task management, and persistence), negative motivation constructs (anxiety, uncertain control, and failure avoidance), and negative engagement constructs (self-handicapping and disengagement). A broad body of research provides support for the salience of the factors in the Wheel in relation to a range of other variables (e.g., background characteristics, cultural factors) and through a variety of research designs and approaches. Importantly, there are additional exciting directions in motivation and engagement research, such as real-time investigations, the use of biomarkers, the interface with teachers, and intervention research, that are relevant to optimizing students’ academic development through school—and beyond.

Article

Tracy L. Cross and Jennifer Riedl Cross

Giftedness, the ability or potential to achieve at an exceptional (i.e., superior) level, is a social construction. The concept has undergone many shifts over the years, in response to societal values and trends. Educational researchers should know about the varied conceptions of giftedness, the definitions that have been used to identify students, and the implications of these for providing an appropriate and equitable education. The predominant conceptualization of giftedness has long been through an IQ-based model, initiated by the early work of Terman and Hollingworth, whose research focused on students who achieved the highest scores on standardized IQ tests. As more comprehensive models that include more relevant factors, in particular, intrapersonal and environment variables, have emerged, educational practice has been slow to respond. The problem of underrepresentation of students from diverse populations (e.g., African American, low-income, etc.) in gifted education services stems from the adoption of conceptions of giftedness that identify well-resourced and demographically advantaged students. Newer conceptions of giftedness acknowledge the developmental nature of giftedness. The talent development paradigm assumes that giftedness manifests as potential in young students and achievement in older students. Taking this approach requires schools to offer ample opportunity for exploration to students, who can show their potential and interest when exposed to various talent domains. Opportunities to practice and hone the skills of a domain are necessary for achievement to be expressed. One talent development model proposes that the objective of gifted education should be to produce eminence among those who participate. The challenge to schools is to create a versatile and effective conception of giftedness that can provide the services and opportunities that make it possible for all students to reach their potential, including those who can achieve at the highest level. The conception of giftedness that is adopted will determine how effectively they will meet this challenge.

Article

Hasan Hariri and Bambang Sumintono

Teachers matter for many reasons, particularly because they can make a difference in student achievement. Student achievement can help improve school and education quality. Teacher commitment to teaching and its associated aspects are explored, including the characteristics of committed teachers. Committed teachers are characterized by four qualities: having a desire to be good teachers, being more fact purveyors and sources, recognizing and accepting individual worth, and meeting professional responsibilities. Thus, committed teachers need to be prepared, to maintain their commitment, and to improve their performance. Principals can help teachers be committed to teaching, for example, by implementing leadership styles that contribute to their commitment. Education policymakers can make the teaching profession be more appealing by elevating its status, similar to that of doctors, to attract the best candidates.

Article

Terri N. Watson and Patrice A. McClellan

What is the relationship between educational leadership, student achievement, and what we know about Black women? For one, while educational leadership is closely associated with student achievement, school leaders were found to have little, if any, direct effect on student achievement. Black women, on the other hand, are rarely mentioned in regard to student achievement, yet their efficacy is unparalleled. Black women should be listed alongside often-cited theorists, including John Dewey, James MacGregor Burns, Nel Noddings, and the Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire, as they have made significant contributions to the field of educational leadership. These trailblazers include Frances (Fanny) Jackson Coppin, Sarah J. Smith Tompkins Garnet, Mary Jane Patterson, and Anna Julia Cooper. As Black women and professors of educational leadership, we have an obligation to ourselves, our communities, and the next generation of school leaders to reframe and extend the narratives surrounding educational leadership, student achievement, and Black women. Most research focused on educational leadership and student achievement includes neither the perspectives nor contributions of Black women educational leaders. Extant educational leadership literatures largely chronicle the perspectives of White men and rely on theories established by other White men. Moreover, student achievement is most often attributed to teachers, roles primarily occupied by White women. These correlations negate and further marginalize Black women educational leaders, who, despite the fact they have successfully led schools and are effective instructional leaders, remain untapped resources. Black Feminist Theory provides a framework to explore the lived experiences and contributions of groundbreaking Black women educational leaders. The knowledge gleaned from these “firsts” will proffer invaluable lessons to the field of educational leadership.

Article

William T. Pink

From a comprehensive analysis of the extant educational literature on school change, it is evident that two activities are essential for the successful reform of schools in the United States. While the focus in this article will be on the programmatic shifts implemented in U.S. schools, the danger of exporting these same failed programs to other countries also will be noted. The first requirement is a systematic critique of the major school reform strategies that have been employed since the 1960s (e.g., the Effective Schools model, standardized testing and school accountability, the standards movement, privatization of schools, charter schools, and virtual/cyber schools). The major conclusion of this critique is that each of these reform strategies has done little to alter the connection between schooling and their production of labor for the maintenance of Western capitalism: beginning in the early 1970s an increasingly strong case has been made that the design and goal of U.S. schooling has been driven by the need to produce an endless supply of differentiated workers to sustain the U.S. economy. Moreover, while both equality and equity have entered the conversations about school reform during this period, it becomes evident that the relative position of both poor students and students of color, with respect to their more affluent White peers, has remained at best unchanged. The second essential requirement is the exploration of an alternative vision for school reform that is grounded in a perspective of equity, both in schools and in the society. Beginning with the question “What would schools look like, and what would be the role of the teacher in a school that was committed to maximizing equity?” such an alternative vision is built on the concept of developing broadly informed students able to play both a thoughtful and active role in shaping the society in which they live, rather than be trained to fit into a society shaped by the interests of capital. From this exploration of the literature emerges a new role for both schools and teachers that repositions schooling as an incubator for social change, with equity as a primary goal. Also addressed is the importance of inequitable economic and public policies that work to systematically inhibit student learning. A key element in forging a successful transition to schools functioning as incubators for reform is the ability of preservice teacher preparation programs to graduate new teachers capable of doing this intellectual work, and for current classroom teachers to engage in professional development to achieve the same end What is clear from a reading of this literature is that without this re-visioning and subsequent reform of schooling, together with a reform of key public policies, we must face the high probability of the rapid implosion of the public school system and the inevitable escalation of class warfare in the United States.

Article

Anthony J. "Sonny" Magana III

Of the many stated purposes of organized educational systems, one that might meet with general agreement is this: to ensure students build abundant learning capacity, achieve ample academic proficiency, and consolidate the requisite knowledge, skills, and aptitudes to successfully address future learning challenges. As computer technologies have transformed nearly every human endeavor imaginable, future learning challenges that students encounter will almost certainly require facility with digital technologies. In the realm of teaching and learning, the average impact of computer technology on student achievement has been both negligible and unchanged, despite astonishing technological developments since the 1960s. However, there is cause for renewed optimism about technology use in education. Compounding evidence suggests that large gains in student achievement are possible when digital tools are leveraged to enhance highly reliable instructional and learning strategies. The objective of the author’s investigation efforts is to develop a more precise language and set of ideas to discuss, enact, and evaluate high impact uses of digital tools in education. The result is the T3 Framework for Innovation in Education. The T3 Framework increments the impact of technology use into three hierarchical domains: Translational, Transformational, and Transcendent. Compounding evidence suggests that implementing the strategies in the T3 Framework, with reasonable fidelity, will likely increase the impact of digital technologies to unlock students’ limitless capacities for learning and contribution, and better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s learning challenges.

Article

Annemarie Palincsar, Gabriel DellaVecchia, and Kathleen M. Easley

Exploring the relationships between teacher education, teaching, and student achievement is a complex undertaking for a host of reasons, including the complexity of teaching, the number of different approaches to teacher education, the challenges associated with measuring teacher knowledge and teacher effectiveness, and the multiple mediators that operate in the study of teaching and learning. Teaching expertise requires technical skills that support instruction, theoretical knowledge, codified knowledge that guides professional decision-making, and critical analysis, which, in turn, informs the enlistment of technical skills and the development of codified knowledge. There is little consensus regarding the specific teacher characteristics that consistently lead to student achievement, although one hypothesis that has received considerable attention in the literature is the importance of teacher subject-matter knowledge. One of the challenges to making definitive statements regarding teacher education and its effects on teaching is that there are multiple approaches to teacher training. These approaches differ in terms of the candidates recruited, admission requirements, course content, the duration of training, the roles and extent of field-based experiences, and relationships with schools. Among claims regarding alternative preparation programs (i.e., programs that are not university-based), for which there is emerging support, is that alternative route teacher education programs are attracting a pool of prospective teachers of diverse age and ethnicity. Furthermore, alternatively certified teachers are choosing to teach in urban settings or settings with large numbers of minoritized students. With respect to measuring the effects of teacher education, a number of methods have been deployed including correlational studies investigating, for example, the relationship between the number of reading courses a teacher has taken and student performance on reading assessments, descriptive case studies of educational systems that are identified as successful, syllabus studies, and quasi-experimental studies. The field is developing more sophisticated and comprehensive measures and methods, as well as theoretical constructs to guide the study of teacher education and its effects on teaching and learning. The study of teacher education and its effects on student learning will benefit from the use of multiple methods—for example, large-scale studies complemented by carefully constructed case studies. In addition, this area will benefit from interdisciplinary scholarship by teams that include scholars who have a deep understanding of teaching and learning, adult development, school systems, and economics so that the field can acquire a more coherent and comprehensive understanding of the complexity of becoming a teacher.