The problem we have in or low performing schools in our education system today.
Lack of equality has been problematic theme throughout educational history. Historically gender, socio economic status, and location have been the most influential factors determining the quality of education a child would receive. Although laws and standards have been implemented to insure equality amongst all schools, academic goals are not always met and schools become categorized as a low performing. Most researchers can agree that gender inequality within education has become a non-determining factor but socio economic status and location are still profound factors in terms of educational quality. Low performing schools tend to be located in low-income regions generally in urban and rural areas. These schools tend to be overcrowded with students and majority of teachers under qualified.
The price of a quality education can be quite high especially within these communities as parents push for a private school education to give their children the best opportunity. In order to end the cycle of low performing schools districts are implementing professional development and appraisal systems that hold all teachers accountable for student success. Along with teacher success, schools have outlined their goals and a strategic plan to meet these goals within a school improvement plan. Charter schools have been constructed in communities where private school may not be an option for students due to financial reasons as well as national programs that aid in getting qualified teachers into classrooms where they are needed most.
Low Performing Schools
Although the playing field among all students has been legally leveled, there are still shortcomings and areas of concerns with the United Statesâ educational system. One of the biggest concerns includes chronically low performing schools, which are generally located in low-income areas. These schools serve a diverse population of students and therefore require a unique structure and organizational system in order to be effective. Unfortunately not one particular method has proven to be successful in changing these schools and demand as well as level of rigor continue to increase. As these demands placed on schools continue to increase the gap in student achievement between high and low income areas will continue to increase as well, unless changes are made.
Being an alumnus of Teach for America sparked my interest to research the history and trends of low performing schools. Having personal experience working in this particular environment as well as the grueling statistics found ensured me that although still a drastic problem, a slow, positive change to master this issue has begun.
Low performing schools has been a trend sense the creation of the educational system. Historically speaking next to gender, the wealth of a student played the utmost important factor in determining what level of education a child would receive. Although the idea of free education has expanded and can be credited as the beginning of a positive change there is still a discrepancy between schools in high verse low-income areas. Researchers state âthere is an organizational inertia to the failure of urban schools, but a âcollective depressionâ doesnât simply well from the character of schools themselves, rather emerging as a refraction of the conflict of a wider lack of articulation between the needs, values and priorities of urban communities and the allocation of resources and opportunity with-in American societyâ (Payne, 2008) In other words the generic or traditional school structure does not support the needs of students in chronically low performing schools. Instead of continuing and striving for a change in these schools, the goal should be altering the structure and organization of these schools to best meet the needs of their particular students.
The foundational and biggest problem with low-income schools is attracting and maintaining high quality teachers. Teachers are more inclined to work in schools considered high performing and in most cases wealthier areas. The turnover rate among teachers in low performing schools is drastically higher than high performing schools. According to a study, âtwenty-seven percent of first-year teachers in New York Cityâs lower-performing schools do not return the following year, compared to 15 percent in the quartile of schools having the relatively highest student achievementâ (Boyd, 2005). It is hard for teachers to become effective in these settings if the staff, as well as administration is constantly changing. Research also suggests that due to this high turnover rate, low performing schools have lowered their qualification standards in order to fill necessary teaching positions (Clotfelter, 251).
Standardized testing has also increased the amount of pressure placed on teachers as a whole. âAccording to a survey conducted by Goslin in 1967, teachers only infrequently used the results of standardized tests and reported virtually no influence of test content on teaching methods of course content. This picture changed, however, beginning with the minimum competency testing movement in the 1970s and educational reforms in the 1980s. It was the explicit intention of reformers in recent decades to change instruction by imposing testsâ (Shepard, 1991). This shift has sense transitioned from an influence on instruction to the sole purpose of instruction. The demands and stress placed on schools transfer to teachers and even begins to put pressure on the students, even those as young as elementary school. This unhealthy stress becomes a negative factor in the classroom for both teachers and students. Although standardized tests are necessary to measure growth and areas that need improvement, it is important to remember the overall end goal of teaching, preparing students for long term success. Teachers associated with low performing schools tend to feel even more demands and pressure from these standardized tests as district leaders continuously threaten forced reconstruction of schools as well as scrutinize teaching practices.
These statistics and demands prove something needs to be done to encourage and support teachers to work in these schools. Since the early 90s many programs have been created that work towards the goal of bringing high quality teachers to areas where they are needed most. These programs include Teach for America, City Year, and Urban City Programs. In addition to creating programs that bring teachers to low income areas, many urban areas have created a wide base of charter school and college preparatory programs. These programs, which include Yes Prep, KIPP, and Harmony Schools, provide students in low-income areas with the resources and tools necessary for them to successfully complete their education and prepare for college. The difference between these schools and public schools include length of school day (most charter schools have a longer school day), discipline procedures (students can be expelled for behavior or academic reasons), and lower student to teacher ratios. Although this model is something for the public school system to strive for as it has proven its success, from a teacherâs perspective they have stated it is not necessarily sustainable career.
After reviewing the history of low performing schools and looking at current trends, I think the United States has begun a slow progression towards positive change. There is not one solution to this complicated situation but more a combination of necessary factors to instill success. Those factors include successful leaders, advocates, and role models placed in administrative positions. These administrators need to be working with a group of highly qualified, motivated teachers. Lastly, students and their families need to have equal access to resource and materials for success. Although these are not the only factors needed to ensure the success of low performing schools, they will provide a strong foundation for schools and students at risk.
Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2005). Explaining the short
careers of high-achieving teachers in schools with low-performing students. The
American Economic Review, 95(2), 166-171.
Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., Vigdor, J. L., & Diaz, R. A. (2004). Do school
accountability systems make it more difficult for lowâperforming schools to attract and
retain highâquality teachers?. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 23(2), 251-
Payne, C. M. (2008). So much reform, so little change: The persistence of failure
in urban schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Shepard, L. A., & Dougherty, K. C. (1991). Effects of high-stakes testing on
instruction. Spencer Foundation.
Tehie, J.B. (2007). Historical foundations of education: Bridges from the ancient worlds
to the present. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson