Standards, Curriculum, and Assessments

 Standards are skills and knowledge students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a lesson, chapter, unit, semester, or school year. Standards are constant and tend not to change from grade level to grade level.  What students should know and are expected to do comes from various cross sections of society such as schools, parents, military, businesses, colleges & universities, and communities. Curriculum on the other hand is flexible and can change from day to day. It’s the material and resources used to help students master the necessary skills or improve readiness.

Since knowledge is intangible or unable to be grasped because it’s inside students’ head, educators must administer assessments or other forms of measurements for the purpose of determining what students know, do not know, or partially know. Formative assessments  which are assessments for learning, provide the instructor tangible insight as it relates to what students know or their readiness level. This valuable insight should be used by educators  to adjust their actions or strategies. Therefore, formative assessments are essential for progress monitoring knowledge gained or not while proceeding with teaching and learning.  Just as a doctor who uses diagnostic tools to determine health levels such as a thermometer, a stethoscope, or blood work and prescribe a treatment plan, a check of mastery by the teacher can design the treatment the student needs in the form of  pathways to enable students to attain the skills that have been determined necessary for the student to know. During the teaching and learning process, formative assessments or checking for understanding should be immediate in order to provide students with immediate descriptive feedback that allow students opportunities to work toward meeting the identified purpose, goals or targets.

 

Why Great Leaders Expect Everyone to Be Great

This is a great article for any leader who challenges the status quo. This article validates you. I really like this one. I hop you do to. This article is written by LOLLY DASKAL.

Great leaders expect greatness from themselves and in turn they challenge others to be great too.

They challenge people to do better, be better and to meet a higher standard.

They do it because settling for substandard, low quality, second rate leadership is not an option.

Great leaders set high standards for their own performance, and for those around them.

Leadership is about service to others, being your best so you can offer your best.

The high standards of great leaders extend beyond the work they do include being a person of character, a leader of integrity and one who inspires the same in those around them.

Here are some of the ways great leaders elevate the standard for themselves and for others:

Establish clarity. Standards reflect values, so before you establish or change them you need to know with certainty what’s most important to you and communicate that with clarity. When you’re clear on values, making decisions becomes much simpler.

Show self-respect. Never lower your standards for anyone or anything. The self-respect that comes with firm standards is everything. Whatever everyone around you is doing, stay true to your ideals. Do what you need to do and do it with meaning and purpose.

Passionately protest mediocrity. “Good enough” are some of the most dangerous words a leader can hear. Nothing great was ever established on a foundation of mediocrity. Always demand more from yourself than anyone else could ever expect.

Never let anyone tell you your standards are too high. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself and your team. When you shift your standards you create change—positive change when you raise standards, negative change when you lower them.

Protect your standards. Make sure people know what’s expected, and be consistent in enforcing those expectations. If you allow disrespect, that’s what you’ll receive.

Never apologize for demanding excellence. Never apologize for high standards. Those who rise up to meet them are the ones you want around you; those who try and need help are the ones you can work with; and the ones who reject it aren’t your people anyway.

Lead from within: When it comes to standards, one thing I’ve found to be true: However high or low you place your standards, that’s how far people will rise.

The Purposeful Silencing of Black Women in Educational Leadership

Thought this was a fascinating take on African American women and Leadership.  Article by Rebecca Lais.

By Contributor Rebecca Lais

“Aggressive.”

“Strong-willed.”

“Passionate”

— have been words falsely labeled as simple descriptors when in actuality, they are evidence of the continued sexism and racism that plagues our society. Women in leadership have always faced adversity and are still seen as second-rate citizens in our country. We see this play out on a national level, but we also see this through daily interactions with those of privilege.

Naively and ignorantly, I believed that we as women shared the same experience. It wasn’t until I was under the leadership of an incredible, Black, female leader, that I realized I was horribly wrong.

During my three years as a middle school English teacher in Tulsa, Okla. I had the opportunity to work under the tutelage of a phenomenal Black, female principal. She embodied the vision of not only equality but equity for our scholars, and she specifically combated the school-to-prison-pipeline narrative through our restorative justice program.

She worked tirelessly and fiercely on behalf of her students. Yet, through several interactions and conversations I observed, she was unfairly labeled as

“too difficult to work with” or “too pushy.”

As a Black woman in a white male/white female dominated arena, her experience is utterly different than those who enjoy the perks of privilege and one all too well-known by her fellow Black women leaders.

One such example that comes to mind is a meeting I attended as a Special Education teacher. Our principal was explaining to a district-level worker (a white female) that one of our scholars needed additional behavioral assistance due to several concerning situations which our school was not qualified to address. We were then told the district did not have the financial resources to help “all students,” and we would have to make due.

As our principal was advocating for our scholar, the employee begins to talk over her, turns to me and asks me to “reason with her.” I can’t help but wonder if our principal had been white or male, would she have been deemed as “unreasonable”?

As I’ve known our principal and as we’ve discussed her experiences as a black, female leader, she’s shared various memories that she’s given me permission to share. She recalls a time when she had to ask the Assistant Principal, an African-American man, to lead certain conversations with district-level employees because she knew her voice would not be heard and our scholars would lose opportunities as a result.

She also describes a conversation with another Black woman who told her that her long braids were “unprofessional” for a principal. Too often to count, she’s been told by fellow colleagues that her voice is “too stern” or her approach is “too dominant.”

She has faced discrimination from all sides, and yet she still continues. When I asked her why she remains committed to her work as a principal in Tulsa, she said,

“I want our young, black women to know they don’t have to change who they are because of what our society tells them to be. They may not be accepted for who they are, but that is not their responsibility. They need to see black women in leadership who refuse to let prejudice dictate how they will live their life. I want them to own who they are because we need them.”

It is not the responsibility of black women to tailor who they are and how they express themselves because of our white and male-dominated society.

It is not the right of others to label anyone as “too” of anything.

We need black women in leadership.

Our country is evidence of that right now. We need our young, black, female scholars to see their reflection in leadership and to see how each of them can make our nation better.

The Purposeful Silencing of Black Women in Educational Leadership 

 

College and Career Ready Workshop!!

This workshop will provide valuable information to parents and students. During this workshop parents will have the opportunity to raise important questions with a panel of educators from Columbia Public Schools, Mizzou & Columbia College.

Time: January 18, 2018

Address 1818 West Worley, Columbia, Missouri

Teacher perceptions and race

Fixed mindset compared to growth mindset.  Fixed mindsets work against the achievement of all students. When educators are of the mindset that all students cannot learn, he or she may be in the wrong profession.  This article from Brookings (Brown Center Chalkboard) sheds light on how teachers’ perceptions of their students can be harmful if teachers’ perceptions are fixed and they are opposed to a growth mindset.

(The young girl in the picture insisted on showing me what she learned in her ballet class.  I allowed her to demonstrate because I believed in her). Growth mindset. She was overjoyed to show me and her peers. Awesomeness!!

By: Dick Startz Monday, February 22, 2016

When it comes to student behavior, what’s polite or rude—what counts as acting out versus what’s seen as healthy youthful exuberance—depends not only on actual behavior but on how teachers read behavior. Black and white American cultures are still sufficiently different in that how teachers read behavior depends in part on the teacher’s race. New research shows that black and white teachers give very different evaluations of behavior of black students. When a black student has a black teacher that teacher is much, much less likely to see behavioral problems than when the same black student has a white teacher.

New research by Adam Wright, “Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Disruptive Behavior: The Effect of Racial Congruence and Consequences for School Suspension,” documents that black teachers have much less negative views of black student behavior than do white teachers. (Conflict of interest notice…hmmm no, braggin’ notice: Wright is one of my PhD students.) Wright looks first at teacher evaluations of behavior, and then at data on school suspensions. Let’s begin with the teacher evaluations.

Wright uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to follow the experience of more than 20,000 students in kindergarten, first, third, and fifth grade. During the elementary school years, teachers were asked to assess a number of noncognitive skills. The measure of interest here is “externalizing problem behaviors,” which asks how often the student “argues, fights, gets angry, acts impulsively, and disrupts ongoing activities.” Notice that we see a measure of teacher perception, rather than counts of disciplinary events. Wright focuses on externalizing behavior because this measure is highly correlated with school suspensions.

On a scale in which the average measure of externalizing behavior is normalized to zero, white and Hispanic students average -0.07, while black students average +0.37. (Asian students average -0.38.) So on average, black students are viewed as having much worse behavior—which presumably reflects some combination of objectively worse behavior and perceived worse behavior.

Wright does something very clever, taking advantage of the fact that students are observed several times and that we know which students are in which classes with which teachers. Wright asks how black students are rated by black teachers, controlling for both the average rating of an individual student by all his teachers and for the average rating a particular teacher of all of her students in a given class. What this means is that Wright can identify how a black student’s behavior is perceived by a black teacher as compared to how the same student is perceived by white teachers. The procedure also adjusts for the possibility that black teachers are just more “easy going,” because the average rating given in a class is effectively subtracted off. So Wright is arguably identifying a causal effect of black students being matched with black teachers.

BEING RACE MATCHED MATTERS A LOT FOR BLACK STUDENTS BUT NOT FOR OTHERS

Bottom line: black teachers are much less likely to find problems with black students than white teachers are with the same students. The difference is enormous, accounting for about half the black/white externalizing behavior gap. (Remember that the data does not tell us whether black teachers have different perceptions of black students or whether student/teacher race matching leads to objectively different behavior.) For black students, being matched with a black teacher matters.

How about white or Hispanic students being matched with white or Hispanic teachers, respectively? Nope, no discernable differences in externalizing behavior. (To be clear, black teachers rate white students about the same as do white teachers.) In other words, being race matched matters a lot for black students but not for others.

Wright drills down further. First—and this is probably unsurprising—the effect of race matching is entirely due to the evaluations given to black boys. There isn’t a noticeable difference for black girls. Second, the effect of matching is limited to the year of the match. When Wright checked reports of black students when they were assigned to white teachers following a year with a black teacher he found no lingering effects of that year of being race-matched. This suggests that the findings reflect teacher perceptions rather than real behavioral differences since we might expect improvements in behavior to persist the following year—and that’s not what happens.

HOW SUSPENSION RATES BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE STUDENTS PLAY INTO RACE MATCHING

Wright then turns to the question of suspension. As is well known, black students are much more likely to be suspended than are white students. Wright shows that the more times a black student is matched with a black teacher, the less likely that student is to be suspended. Unfortunately, the data does not note the grade in which a suspension happened. It is reasonable to speculate that most suspensions come in later grades and that the finding is due in part to the effect of student-teacher race matching in earlier grades. We can’t be sure of this however, and some part of the finding may also be due to fewer suspensions of black students during years they have black teachers.

The difference in suspension rates is large. Taking these findings at face value, Wright estimates that if we doubled exposure of black students to black teachers, the black-white suspension gap would fall in half. Because of data limitations, it’s not possible to test whether black students’ likelihood of suspension changes when they move from a black teacher to a white teacher. Instead, Wright looks at black students who enter the same school at kindergarten but are exposed to different percentages of black teachers through eighth grade. So the causal interpretations about suspensions are less certain than are the interpretations about behavior reports.

In summary, black teacher perceptions about the behavior of black boys is very different than the perceptions of white teachers. This doesn’t happen for other racial groups. None of this necessarily suggests malice or prejudice or favoritism on anyone’s part. It does suggest one more way that race still matters in our schools.

Camouflage Off

“I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.” — John Hope Franklin, one of most important historians of 20th century.

Introduction

I love my community too much to just sit back and say nothing. I feel obligated to speak out.  After all, one of my first cousins who is the father of an eight months old baby girl just died December 2017 due to an accidental drug overdose. His overdose has put a huge burden on the family. Now there is an eight months old girl without her father and mother who is hanging on the edge of depression.  Therefore, this is personal for me. I have nothing against others. Nonetheless, I am saying we need to speak out against things that harm our well-being and overall progress.  When we hit music industries and others in their pockets, they listen. Think of the Bus Boycott during the Civil Rights struggle. Why did the City of Alabama reconsider bus discrimination? Money

One day while sitting in the barbershop, I became intrigued, distraught, fraught, ashamed and embarrassed all at the same time. I was not sure of what I heard blaring out of the speakers. Nevertheless, clearly derogative for any public establishment. I started to listen with more focus for the purpose of attempting to decipher the lyrics. I still had no idea of the mumbling or lack of clarity on the part of the artist. Despite my difficulty of trying to make out what the artist was saying, it was clear the young black boys, teenage boys, and African American men had no problem. After all, they were singing the song with gestures and dance. I needed to know more about the craze. Some of the lyrics became apparent enough for me to google the lyrics and follow the song on YouTube. To my surprise, the song had an astonishing 228 million hits. The video and lyrics were simply deplorable and ruining. This type of song can be categorized as a modern day form of Jim Crow and oppression no matter how the record industry, critics, or other artists are trying to spin the meaning. Even more disturbing were the young black minds that were being shaped and molded by this image of life and perception of females.  As a trained sociologist, I started to think like a sociologist. I wondered how habitual exposure to such adverse events which flirts with glorifying violence and drugs manifest in school and do they contribute to the demise of family institutions and school achievement. The words that come to mind are learning, behavior, and socialization.  In the next section of this article I will define socialization as well as the different agents of socialization and how these agents impact our individual behavior as well as their impact on social groups at the micro level and macro level.

Agents of Socialization

On our journey to becoming teenagers, young adults, and eventually mature adults, how do we come to be? What impacts our thoughts, personality, behaviors, likes, dislikes and our decisions? Why do we like certain music, certain foods, and certain clothes that we wear? Who told us it was appropriate? How do kids know to sag their clothing in Seattle, Washington and clear across the country in Teaneck New Jersey? Why have tattoos taken our country by storm?  Why do females now call each other bitches and laugh about it (Reality TV)? Finally, despite how we feel while growing up, why do we more than not, eventually start to behave like our parents? The answers to all of these questions lie inside of what is known as socialization.

Socialization is known as the process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society). According to most social scientists, socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children ( Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017). However, it is much deeper than just socialization.

There are Five Agents of Socialization and these agents have a profound impact on who we are or become as time progresses. These agents are known as family, peers, school, mass or social media, and religion. Some sociologist omit religion and instead focus on culture.

FAMILY

Family is the first agent of socialization. Mothers and fathers, siblings and grandparents, including members of an extended family, all teach the child. Many social factors affect the way a family raises its children. Sociologists recognize that race, social class, religion, and other societal factors play an important role in socialization (National Opinion Research Center 2008). A person may pick up traits from elsewhere in the world, but they also seem to always carry the unique traits that were initiated by their family.

PEERS

A peer group is made up of people who are identical in age and social stature and who have things in common. Peer group socialization begins in the earliest years, such as when kids on a playground teach younger children the norms about taking turns. Peers tend to play a bigger role and influence as the child becomes older.

SCHOOL

Most U.S. children spend a great deal of their day in school, 180 days a year, which makes it hard to deny the importance school has on their socialization (U.S. Department of Education 2004). Schools build a sense of competition into the way grades are awarded and the way teachers evaluate students (Bowles and Gintis 1976).

RELIGION

The United States is full of synagogues, worship sites, and similar religious communities where people gather to worship and learn. Like other institutions, these places teach participants how to interact with the religion’s material culture. Many religious institutions also uphold gender norms and contribute to their enforcement through socialization.

The many Facets of MEDIA

The media distribute impersonal information to a wide audience, via television, newspapers, radio, internet/cell phones, iTunes, social media such as Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and music industry like Epic Records. With the average person spending over four hours a day in front of the television (and children averaging even more screen time), media greatly influences social norms (Roberts, Foehr, and Rideout, 2005). People learn about objects of material culture (like new technology and transportation options), as well as nonmaterial culture—what is true (beliefs), what is important (values), and what are expected norms (Lumen Learning, 2017).

“Children learn through watching television. Some of the things they learn are beneficial; others are not. They learn about the world and the ways of the society. Children learn more than facts from television; they also get a good daily dose of stereotypes and a lot of misleading information about their world. Most of all, they get a big helping of violence” (Gonzalez-Mena, 2010).  Of the five agents of socialization, the one that enter all homes across the globe is media (Lumen Learning, 2017).

The Impact of Media and how it Shapes our Lives

The media is my main area of concern. The impact of media has grown significantly in the last seven to ten years. Media comes into our homes through multiple channels such as social media, television, internet, and cell phones. Parents purchase cell phones for their child. In many cases, students receive their first cell device as young as first grade. From that moment forward, parents are left in the dark in regards to what their children are exposed to on their hand held device. Young people are exposed to rated “X” porn to “X” rated music. These exposures can very well have a positive or negative impact in regards to who we eventually become, how we treat one another, as well as ones’ outlook on societal topics and life.

Now it’s important for me to disclose what I witnessed in the barbershop which had me acutely despondent and discouraged. The song “Mask Off” (2017). A tune that seems to consistently reference a mixer of Molly and Percocet drugs. Urban dictionary (2017) defines Molly Percocet as Molly is a pure form of MDMA also found in some ecstasy pills. Gives you warm butterfly feelings , bliss, euphoria and more intense sexual experiences. Makes you want to dance, grind your teeth and dehydrated. An additional definition from another source states, Percocet contains a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of oxycodone (Drugs.com, 2017). Now this is alarming because throughout 2016 and 2017, one could not turn on their television, radio, or internet and not hear how opioids had destroyed an entire family or neighborhood such as neighborhoods in Ohio and Missouri.

I am not saying the artist is promoting the use of drugs. Nonetheless, one thing is true across the country.  There has been a definite increase in accidental drug overdose. I am saying the audiences who listen and watch through media outlets are young and impressionable children, adolescents, and young adults. Can we assume young audiences are NOT trying to determine if the artist is promoting or not promoting the use of drugs? I am saying young people are being exposed to these events during happy and motivating moments  when they attend bars, clubs, family reunions, on social media, and other social events.  As a result, young minds may associate these types of songs as acceptable because adults are idolizing certain types of songs. Therefore, act upon them by living these events out which ultimately may lead to devastation to them and their families.

 Drug Epidemic on America

“In August, President Trump declared America’s opioid epidemic a national emergency two days after vowing the U.S. would “win” the fight against it. About a month earlier, the Department of Justice charged more than 400 people who officials said were preying on addicts to shell out money for unnecessary treatments that only worsened their condition, and doctors who were allegedly prescribing unnecessary opioids (NBC News, 2017).

The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently reported that the epidemic’s true cost in 2015 was $504 billion — more than six times the most recent estimate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in late October that illegal, lab-made fentanyl contributed to the death of at least half of fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, underscoring how deadly the epidemic has become in recent years” (NBC News, 2017).

As a community, do we sit and absolutely do nothing about what we know could potentially be detrimental to young lives and the community? Do we continue to allow Epic records and others within the music industry sell us snake oil? Do we continue to provide paid critics a platform to say certain songs are the best ever even though the songs may degrade our black women and undermine our community? Do you believe the owners of the music industry have no clue as to what drugs do to individuals and a community at large? Do you think the music industry doesn’t realize there has been a spike in drug overdoses? Money is at the root of our children demise. The next section addresses one of young children’s idols and models.  This leads me to ask, will you as parents allow your boy or girl to hang out with people who just talk about illicit drugs? Do you desire your child to have such role models? As responsible parents or leaders of the community, would you allow your daughter or son to go for sleep overs in such environments?

Yes, it is understood people change but before they change will you allow your child to be exposed to such horrific environments that glorify violence and drug use? I know critics will say I am hating, but nothing could be further from the truth. There were people who told Rosa Parks to get up because they were scared and she was going to make things worse for all African Americans. There are those who say Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t kneel due to him giving the NFL a deplorable name. These status quo humans have always been around. I am simply trying to point out how the media is allowing such deplorable songs not rap music but horrifying songs which are only beneficial to the artist(s) and owners of record labels.  However, at the expense of so much more such as our children, families, and communities.

 Product of your Environment

Have we ever wondered who some of these people are and their origin? To be clear, this is not to be judgmental, but instead to disclose the facts. Who have these strong grips on our young children and in some cases communities? Though I am pointing out one person thats hot right now, he is by no means the only one. There are too many spreading lyrics that are alarming. Some communities suffer more than others.

Born Nayvadius Wilburn into a family of street hustlers going back at least two generations. Future has four children with four different women: Jessica Smith, Brittni Mealy, India J, and singer Ciara. He was engaged to Ciara in October 2013, but Ciara called off the engagement in August 2014 due to his infidelity (Wikipedia, 2017). Their son, Future Zahir Wilburn, was born on May 19, 2014. As of 2016, Future is being sued by both Jessica Smith and Ciara. Smith is suing him for failing to pay child support, and stated that their son “suffers from emotional and behavioral issues stemming from Future’s neglect as a father” (thejasminebrand, 2016). So how many of our school age students are experiencing the same negative adverse events? Events that negatively impact academic performance, but yet society is expecting school systems to be miracle workers, but never point out the short comings of many parents. Ciara is suing him for defamation, slander, and libel (Wikipedia, 2017).

Future is also known to drink a drink called “Dirty Sprite”.  This drink is a drug infused concoction that contains cough syrup among other ingredients. Despite rumors of the drink having negative side-effects, the rapper is a fan (Capitalxtra.com, 2017). Finally, while a teenager and running the streets, the young artist was shot (Capitalxtra.com, 2017).

In closing, this argument I am presenting is not new. During the 1920s, it was Jazz. During the 50s it was Blues and Rock and Roll. During the 60s it was long hair and the Beatles. However, I am not sure if Jazz and long hair increased death by 30% across the country. I dig rap music, but not songs which flirts with taking opioids that paralyze the country.  We cannot continue to normalize these types of songs. I did not say rap music.  We can not normalize opioid use. 

Lyrics to the Song

Full Lyrics:   https://genius.com/11364239

Call it how it is
Hendrix
I promise, I swear, I swear
You heard, spit it, yo

[Chorus]

Percocets, molly, Percocets
Percocets, molly, Percocets Rep the set, gotta rep the set

Chase a check, never chase a b—h, Mask on, f— it, mask off (Future, 2017).

References

Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. 1976. Schooling in Capitalistic America: Educational Reforms and the Contradictions of Economic Life. New York: Basic Books.

Encyclopedia Britannica (2017): Retrieved December 30, 2017

Future Facts: 20 Things you need to Know about Mask Off Rapper: Retrieved December 30, 2017 from http://www.capitalxtra.com/features/lists/future-facts/where-from/

Genius Lyrics Retrieved December 28, 2017 from https://genius.com/11364239

Family, and Community: Family-Centered Early Care and Education, by J. Gonzalez-Mena, 2009 edition, p. 335-336. Retrieve December 28, 2017 from https://www.education.com/reference/article/media-as-influence-socialization/

Lumen Introductory to Sociology: Retrieved December 24, 2017 from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/sociology/chapter/agents-of-socialization/

National Opinion Research Center. 2007. General Social Surveys, 1972–2006: Cumulative Codebook. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center.

Percocet Drug: Retrieved December 30, 2017 from https://www.drugs.com/search.php?searchterm=Percocet&a=1

Roberts, Donald F., Ulla G. Foehr, and Victoria Rideout. 2005. “Parents, Children, and Media: A Kaiser Family Foundation Survey.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved December 30, 2017 from (http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/7638.pdf).

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2004. “Average Length of School Year and Average Length of School Day, by Selected Characteristics: United States, 2003-04.” Private School Universe Survey (PSS). Retrieved December 30, 2017 (http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/table_2004_06.asp).

Urban Dictionary 2017

“I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.” — John Hope Franklin, one of most important historians of 20th century.

 

A correlation between the Achievement Gap and Adverse Childhood Experiences

What exactly is an achievement gap?

The term “achievement gap” refers to disparities in the academic achievement of specific groups of students (Coleman et al., 1966). The achievement gap now measures four years: by the end of high school, African American and Latino students have skills in literacy (reading) and numeracy (mathematics) that are virtually identical to those of White students at the end of middle school (Lyman & Villani, 2004; Scherer, 2002-2003).

 What about the Achievement Gap once school years are over?

The achievement gap exists during school years, but when the school years are over the achievement gap becomes an opportunity gap. In other words, students become adults. In many cases, adults who will not be able to pay for everyday essentials such as food, purchase a home, have access to health, vision, or dental insurance.  The achievement gap can very well impact one’s life time earnings. Lower life time earnings can have a direct impact on where people live and what kids are exposed to as they grow up. Lower life time earnings can very well impact one’s credit score and put up barriers that prevent home ownership and sometimes prevent the opportunity to rent. Consequently, most are forced to live in low credit score neighborhoods. Low credit score neighborhoods can breed a host of negative exposures such as violence and childhood stressors. Low score neighborhoods are inundated with liquor stores, cigarette ads, and corner stores that sell nothing but unhealthy processed food. All of these factors add to negative childhood experiences.

Definition of Adverse Childhood Experiences/Trauma 

Psychological trauma is the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions, in which: The individual experiences (subjectively) an existential threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity, such that the individual’s ability to integrate his/her emotional experience is overwhelmed. (Saakvitne, 1995). Reactions to Traumatic Stress are as follow:  (Cormier, 2012 at NABSE Conference)

  • Re-experiencing symptoms: intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, re-living, dissociating, high reactivity to reminders
  • Arousal symptoms: Hypervigilance, hyperarousal (heightened emotional experiencing and slow return to baseline), feeling edgy, difficulty falling asleep, midnight or early morning awakenings, heightened irritability and aggression (Cormier, 2012 NABSE)
  • Avoiding symptoms: refusal to talk about event, avoiding traumatic reminders, social withdrawal, detachment, numbing (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition).
  • The person experiencing traumatic stress never gets a break from it. They feel as though they are always “on.”
  • The combination of always being on, of re-experiencing and of trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid re-experiencing contribute to the person’s feeling as though they are coming apart or going crazy(Cormier, 2012 NABSE Conference).
  • To others, the person’s inability to control their emotions, withdrawal from normal social interchange, and active distrust of everything, make that person very difficult to engage. Thus, the very people who could become a source of support become a source of antagonism (Cormier, 2012 NABSE conference Nashville, Tennessee)
  • This combination of the inability to regulate emotions, the inability to trust others and the inability to attend to the present moment is quite destructive of the kind of executive and integrative functioning necessary for academic success.

When students come up in high violence areas they are more than not exposed to adverse childhood experiences. Adverse Childhood experiences such as drugs, child abuse, sexual abuse, incarceration of love ones, drug use by caretakers, and gun violence. When a child is habitually exposed to these kind of stressors, they can become traumatized prior to entering kindergarten. This traumatization has a colossal impact on the child’s behavior and the ability to learn.  Some researchers would say the child is dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The same PTSD soldiers experience due to combat from serving in the military during wartime.  Researchers admit the PTSD suffered by students never turns off. As a result, all adults such as the school system should be in the know and have established a plan that effectively addresses the trauma or unwanted behavior.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (Presented by Matthew A. Munich, PhD, LCSW Trauma Clinician Family Service of Rhode Island, 2012 at NABSE Conference Nashville, Tennessee)

  • A study commissioned by Kaiser Permanente involving 17,000 patients surveyed by their primary care physician to make a connection between health outcomes and “Adverse Child Events” (A.C.E.). 12,000 patients responded. These were people who were predominately middle to upper middle class Caucasian. 74% had attended college, with an average age of 57.
  • Responders were given 1 point for every childhood adverse experience: physical, emotional or sexual abuse, absent or addicted caregiver, parental divorce, domestic violence, mentally ill caregiver.

ACE SCORE

  • Score of 4 or higher: twice as likely to smoke, seven times as likely to become alcoholics, six times as likely to have had sex before 15.
  • 4 or higher: One is twice as likely to have cancer, twice as likely to have heart disease, and four times as likely to suffer from emphysema or chronic bronchitis. 12 times as likely to have attempted suicide than those with an ACE score of 0.
  • Men with an ACE score of 6 or higher were 46 times as likely to have injected drugs than men who had no history of ACEs (acestudy.org; Tough, 2011).

Nadine Burke & The ACE Study

  • Bayview Health Clinic, a San Francisco public health clinic, Nadine Burke administers a modified version of the ACE study questionnaire to her patients at every yearly exam. This time, the median age was 7, rather than 57.  700 patients were surveyed.
  • 69% had an ACE score of 1.  12% have an ace of 4 or higher.
  • In addition to health outcomes being more negative already for this population, Burke saw a correlation between children’s ACE score and school performance.
  • The conclusion being drawn from this is that the glucocorticoids that flood the young brain as a result of adverse childhood events adversely affect its normal development. These findings mirror studies from the late 60s and early 70s  led to the great literacy movement, with government programs like Head Start.  (Tough, 2011)

As the author of this article, my purpose is to provide information that is beneficial for teachers, districts, families and most of all the information is helpful for improving students’ quality of life both academically and socially.  It is essential for all educators to understand their students’ life experiences. By doing so, immensely improves the opportunity for students to be successful.

Wheatley, Margaret J. Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future

 

This is a fascinating article by one of my all time favorites, Margaret Wheatley.

As we grapple with social and educational issues that plague our school systems and country,  I find it extremely necessary to read this article. This article continues to make the case 15 years later. We must turn to one another. We cannot do the necessary things in isolation.  We must challenge our mental models (Senge, 1993) and continue to enhance our thoughts and actions through Personal Mastery (Senge, 1993).  Read this article over and over. More importantly, I hope this read motives action steps for change that impacts social justice.

 

Wheatley, Margaret J. Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future San Francisco: Berrett-Koshler Publishers, Inc., 2002

“Willing to Be Disturbed”

As we work together to restore hope to the future, we need to include a new and strange ally—our willingness to be disturbed. Our willingness to have our beliefs and ideas challenged by what others think. No one person or perspective can give us the answers we need to the problems of today. Paradoxically, we can only find those answers by admitting we don’t know. We have to be willing to let go of our certainty and expect ourselves to be confused for a time.

We weren’t trained to admit we don’t know. Most of us were taught to sound certain and confident, to state our opinion as if it were true. We haven’t been rewarded for being confused. Or for asking more questions rather than giving quick answers. We’ve also spent many years listening to others mainly to determine whether we agree with them or not. We don’t have time or interest to sit and listen to those who think differently than we do.

But the world now is quite perplexing. We no longer live in those sweet, slow days when life felt predictable, when we actually knew what to do next. We live in a complex world, we often don’t know what’s going on, and we won’t be able to understand its complexity unless we spend more time in not knowing.

It is very difficult to give up our certainties—our positions, our beliefs, our explanations. These help define us; they lie at the heart of our personal identity. Yet I believe we will succeed in changing this world only if we can think and work together in new ways. Curiosity is what we need. We don’t have to let go of what we believe, but we don need to be curious about what someone else believes. We do need to acknowledge that their way of interpreting the world might be essential to our survival.

We live in a dense and tangled global system. Because we live in different parts of this complexity, and because no two people are physically identical, we each experience life differently. It’s impossible for any two people to ever see things exactly the same. You can test this out for yourself. Take

any event that you’ve shared with others (a speech, a movie, a current event, a major problem) and ask your colleagues and friends to describe their interpretation of that event. I think you’ll be amazed at how many different explanations you’ll hear. Once you get a sense of diversity, try asking even more colleagues. You’ll end up with a rich tapestry of interpretations that are much more interesting than any single one.

To be curious about how someone else interprets things, we have to be willing to admit that we’re not capable of figuring things out alone. If our solutions don’t work as well as we want them to, if our explanations of why something happened don’t feel sufficient, it’s time to begin asking others about what they see and think. When so many interpretations are available, I can’t understand why we would be satisfied with superficial conversations where we pretend to agree with one another.

There are many ways to sit and listen for the differences. Lately, I’ve been listening for what surprises me. What did I just hear that startled me? This isn’t easy – I’m accustomed to sitting there nodding my head to those saying things I agree with. But when I notice what surprises me, I’m able to see my own views more dearly, including my beliefs and assumptions.

Noticing what surprises and disturbs me has been a very useful way to see invisible beliefs. If what you say surprises me, I must have been assuming something else was true. If what you say disturbs me, I must believe something contrary to you. My shock at your position exposes my own position. When I hear myself saying, “How could anyone believe something like that?” a light comes on for me to see my own beliefs. These moments are great gifts. If I can see my beliefs and assumptions, I can decide whether I still value them.

I hope you’ll begin a conversation, listening for what’s new. Listen as best you can for what’s different, for what surprises you. See if this practice helps you learn something new. Notice whether you develop a better relationship with the person you’re talking with. If you try this with several people, you might find yourself laughing in delight as you realize how many unique ways there are to be human.

We have the opportunity many times a day, everyday, to be the one who listens to others, curious rather than certain. But the greatest benefit of all is that listening moves us closer. When we listen with less judgment, we

always develop better relationships with each other. It’s not differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do curiosity and good listening bring us back together.

Sometimes we hesitate to listen for differences because we don’t want to change. We’re comfortable with our lives, and if we listened to anyone who raised questions, we’d have to get engaged in changing things. If we don’t listen, things can stay as they are and we won’t have to expend any energy. But most of us do see things in our life or in the world that we would like to be different. If that’s true, we have to listen more, not less. And we have to be willing to move into the very uncomfortable place of uncertainty.

We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion; cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for the new. Of course it’s scary to give up what we know, but the abyss is where newness lives. Great ideas and inventions miraculously appear in the space of not knowing. If we can move through the fear and enter the abyss, we are rewarded greatly. We rediscover we’re creative.

As the world grows more strange and puzzling and difficult, I don’t believe most of us want to keep struggling through it alone, I can’t know what to do from my own narrow perspective. I know I need a better understanding of what’s going on. I want to sit down with you and talk about all the frightening and hopeful things I observe, and listen to what frightens you and gives you hope. I need new ideas and solutions for the problems I care about. I know I need to talk to you to discover those. I need to learn to value your perspective, and I want you to value mine. I expect to be disturbed by what I hear from you. I know we don’t have to agree with each other in order to think well together. There is no need for us to be joined at the head. We are joined by our human hearts.

Hands down, Numeric Literacy is the Global Language

Algebra: Gateway to College Success Starts in Middle School

Nearly every school district across the United States has a phrase in its school’s vision statement or related to preparation of students to compete on the Global Stage or to prepare for a Global Society.  When considering mathematics, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2015 and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, results indicate American students are lagging behind other industrial countries’ students.  American students will have to compete with these same students in the future. When considering STEM jobs, much of the competition will take place on computer keyboards.  Many companies compete  across the globe and the employee is at home, in their office, or in some facility that has  wireless connection. To truly compete on a global stage, we have to do a significantly better job of educating our youth with numeric literacy.   “Numeracy is defined as the ability to access, use and interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas, in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of various situations in adult years. To be numerate is to confidently and effectively use mathematics to meet the everyday demands of life.” (Bendigo Kangan Institute, 2017).

Middle school and high school are absolutely necessary times for early postsecondary planning, and many educational institutions and the U.S. Department of Education suggest that students begin considering and planning for college as early as sixth grade (National Association for College Admission Counseling, 1999). Early planning gives students the opportunity to take the necessary middle and high school courses to ensure preparedness for postsecondary education, and align their educational benchmarks with their current course taking and educational planning. Schools can play a vital role in guiding early preparation for college or careers through fostering academic preparation and achievement, supporting parent involvement, providing college and career planning essentials, and aiding students through the multiple steps in college and career planning. Early postsecondary planning may not be the case for all students. Too many students are failing to engage in the early planning activities that can be extremely beneficial in getting ready for college. It could be considered too late to start preparing for college in the 11th or 12th grade. By this time, students have missed opportunities to take rigorous courses as well as all the math high schools have to offer.  Rigorous mathematics provide students with leverage to meet the challenges of college.

Middle school students who take rigorous courses such as Algebra I can obtain information about college opportunities and are likely to apply to a four-year university (Atanda, 1999; National Commission on the High School Senior Year, 2001). This is especially true among minority and first-generation college students.  Those who take higher-level math courses are more likely to attend college (Horn & Nuñez, 2000). As it relates to equity and Civil Rights, Kaupt (1998) suggests all should have the right to algebra. Having taken algebra by 8th grade allow students to take high school course sequences including calculus by senior year. Therefore, it is imperative students take algebra by 8th grade (Kaput, 1998).

Algebra is considered the gateway to taking advanced mathematics offered by high schools, which leads to knowledge and skills needed to meet Geometry, Algebra II, and Calculus rigor (Gaertner, Kim, DesJardins, & McClarity, 2013). The completion of these higher math courses aid students for success in college, technically skilled jobs, as well as more lifetime career earnings. Math Pathways and Pitfalls (2013) suggest students who complete challenging math courses double their chances of graduating from college compared to students who do not. “Failure in algebra is the #1 trigger of dropouts in high school” (Helfand, 2007).

The Importance of Algebra II

“The mathematics courses students take in high school affect their academic achievement and their admission to competitive postsecondary schools and professional programs” (Schiller & Muller, 2003, p. 300). Adelman (2006) states, when students complete high-level mathematic courses such as Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, and Calculus these are the most significant predictors of achieving in postsecondary systems.

DesJardins, Gaertner, Kim, and McClarity (2013), Preparing Students for College & Careers: The Causal Role of Algebra II looked at the impacts of taking Algebra II in high school.

Research findings suggest completing Algebra II is necessary for college outcomes for all post-secondary institutions, but not necessarily for career outcomes. Students who completed Algebra II in high school were more likely to be accepted to college, sustain higher grade point averages, remain in college, and most of all graduate from college. Moreover,  students who did not complete Algebra II do not achieve the same outcomes. Students who did not apply to college after high school, completing Algebra II was not essential to finding a job immediately after high school, earning occupational prestige, earnings, or career advancement (Gaertner, Kim, DesJardins, & McClarty, 2013).              Fong, Huang, and Goel, (2008) state students who complete Algebra II increase their opportunity for not needing remedial courses once enrolled in college. In fact, completing Algebra II was essential for improving college preparedness as it relates to minority students (Evan, Gray, and Olchefske, 2006).

In summary, the data provides evidence regarding Algebra and the importance of algebra beyond the walls of school.  The importance of Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II and other advanced math courses are extremely important and significant predictors for college admission and sustainability beyond a student’s freshman year of college.

Advanced Placement Math

High schools throughout the country, now offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses in mathematics and science. These courses are known as pre-college readiness subjects. Adelman (2006) urges students to complete at least two years of AP courses in math. High school students who perform well on AP examinations triple their chances of obtaining a four-year college degree as opposed to students who do not pass the AP test (National Science Foundation, 2007). Subsequently, the percentage for completing a four-year degree is even higher for African American students. Many students, especially low-income students, misjudge what essential classes they must enroll to properly prepare themselves for two and four-year colleges. It is severely important for guidance counselors to ensure they are providing all students with valid information regarding the importance of Algebra’s impact on college preparedness.  Rigorous math course completion also improve students’ ACT scores (ACT, 2010; 2012).

Advanced Math Courses and the Minority Student

What is true for the high school population in general is true for African American and Hispanic students whose college graduation rates are more positively impacted than any other group through by having a rigorous curriculum and teachers competent in their subject area (Wimberly & Noeth, 2005). Students who complete Algebra II, double their chances of graduating from a four-year college as opposed to those students do not (Wimberly & Noeth, 2005). Furthermore, failure or less than mediocre achievement in minimum college ready courses such as Algebra is a major problem impacting urban secondary education, which also negatively impacts African Americans, Hispanics, and other students of color.

Stein, Kaufman, Sherman, and Hillen (2011), research findings suggest there are inequities regarding those who take  Algebra in 8th or 9th grade. This is common for minority students, lower income students, and students whose parents have minimum education (Filer & Chang, 2008; Gamoran & Hannigan, 2000; McCoy, 2005; Shakrani, 1996; Walston & McCarroll, 2010). According to research by Stone (1998), these demographic inequities in Algebra have been evident since the early 1990s in large urban school districts. The data disclosed a couple of reason for this imbalance, including under-preparedness and subjective placement factors. Not taking rigorous math courses in high school can have substantial ramifications for a student’s future job earnings and social success. If students do not take advanced math courses in high school, and they plan on going to college, “a student is effectively frozen out of the highly compensated, highly sought after fields of science, technology, engineering, and math known as STEM” (Brown, Hadjimarkos, & Rogers, 2013, p. 2).

Some studies revealed when students are selected to take advanced math courses, a host of minority and low-income students are excluded from taking Algebra, even if their test scores are proficient or advanced. Stone’s (1998) research shows that students of upper financial status are more likely to be enrolled in Algebra I and Geometry as opposed to their lower income peers who scored proficient or advanced with their test scores (Stein, Kaufman, Sherman, & Hillen, 2011; Walston & McCaroll, 2010). Horn and Bobbitt (2000) disclosed “fewer first-generation college students are taking eighth grade Algebra compared to students with parents who were college graduates” (Stein, Kaufman, Sherman, & Hillen, 2011, p. 461).

California considers taking Algebra a civil right for students. To ensure students are not being overlooked or misplaced due to origin or social economic status, the state of California educators may face substantial legal liability for misplacement of students in math courses. This is due to California based universities require college eligible math courses such as Advanced Placement Statistics or Calculus. “Purposeful placement decisions that disproportionately impact minority students violate state and federal laws” (Brown, Hadjimarkos, & Rogers, 2013, p. 4).

The opportunity to take these advanced math courses can only be achieved if students complete algebra by 8th grade and enters high school enrolled Geometry. Students not having the opportunity to complete advanced math courses can negatively impact college success and long-term opportunities forever (Brown, Hadjimarkos, & Rogers, 2013). The most alarming concerns California has with misplacing students in advanced math courses due to social economic status (SES) or race occurs when a student has adequately “completed Algebra I in middle school and is forced to repeat Algebra I in 9th grade. When this happens, the student is immediately made less competitive for college admission” (Brown, Hadjimarkos, & Rogers, 2013, p. 4). The research study conducted by the state of California for nine districts between San Mateo and Santa Clara counties research findings revealed 65% of students who completed Algebra 1 in 8th grade were mandated to take the same Algebra 1 course again in the ninth grade. The same study revealed more than 42% of students mandated to take Algebra I again in 9th grade earned a B- grade or higher while in 8th grade. The students were more often than not minority and low-income students (Brown, Hadjimarkos, & Rogers, 2013). In order for United States of America to remain an elite figure on the global platform, it must be a priority to ensure a larger percentage of our secondary students enroll in college and complete a degree in an adequate time period.

National Assessment of Educational Progress states the “overwhelming number of low-achieving students in Algebra are black and Hispanic and attend big urban high-poverty schools where they are more likely to fall through the cracks” (Loveless, 2008, p. 8). More often than not, low-income and minority students tend to be the least likely to engage in early and timely educational planning. Low-income communities may lack educational planning information (Freeman, 1999). Schools serving low-income districts have an urgent role and moral imperative to prepare students and help them plan for the future and narrow the opportunity gap.

STEM and Future Careers

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) require a strong foundation in math. Society moved from an agricultural society to an industrial society and people moving to the city from the countryside for better paying industry jobs realized they needed postsecondary training for the purpose of obtaining the newly created industry jobs.  Today, we are living in the information age.  An era which has created a host of STEM careers and require a healthy dose of numeric literacy. “We are all required to be numerate to maximize our potential and to make a positive contribution to society. In our exceedingly technical world, numeracy skills, in particular the ability to interpret data, are becoming increasingly more significant and are hugely sought after by employers. An absence of mathematical confidence and poor numeracy skills are obstructions to employment as numeracy tests are increasingly becoming a routine part of the recruitment process” (Bendigo Kangan Institute, 2017).  Math is the most important course in every country, Hands down.

References

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