Curriculum

Nine-hour school day is the norm – and a national model – at Oakland middle school


Andres McDade, an 8th grader at Elmhurst Community Prep in Oakland, plays a percussion drum in the school's expanded learning program. Photo courtesy of Citizen Schools.

Andres McDade, an 8th grader at Elmhurst Community Prep in Oakland, plays a drum in the school’s expanded learning program. Credit: Citizen Schools.

On a recent Thursday afternoon in Ashur Bratt’s class in Oakland, about 20 middle school students stood tall on chairs and tables and flung their arms out from their sides, looking very pleased with themselves.

“How do you feel?” Bratt asked as students raised their arms, competing to be called on. “Ecstatic!” one boy answered. It turns out, Bratt told his class, if you expand your body for a couple of minutes, it helps you feel better and think bigger.

Thinking bigger is part of the culture at Elmhurst Community Prep, a middle school in East Oakland that has expanded the school day to 5 p.m. with a variety of after-school offerings, such as Bratt’s class on building self-confidence. Students can choose robotics, music or dance. They can make collages, dissect fetal pigs or create apps. They visit well-known companies such as Google and Pandora.

“We’re not just cookies and basketballs,” said Principal Kilian Betlach, who keeps tabs on his students as he roams the halls with a baseball bat (“It’s a prop”) and a sense of humor. “We have a real moral imperative to provide kids from low-income backgrounds with the services and opportunities that middle-class kids get. We don’t do just hard academics. We offer access and opportunities.”

The school of 375 students – in the middle of a tough Oakland neighborhood where the shooting of a 13-year-old boy on New Year’s Day was the city’s first homicide – has been promoted as a national model for how to create and finance an after-school program that supports both enrichment activities and academic success.

Unique success

Every student at Elmhurst, in the Oakland Unified school district, attends the expanded learning program, making it part of their normal school day. Classes begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., at least two hours after most other Oakland students are done for the day.

ExpandedLearningTimeFinal-copy-150x1503.jpgPart of the school’s uniqueness is the way it blends the regular school day and the after-school program.

Rodzhaney Sledge, dressed in the light-blue school uniform, is new to the school as a 6th grader, but she already understands how the after-school part of the program supports her academic work. For example, she took a class called Tools for Peace, where she learned to meditate. Meditation, she said, has helped calm her so she can focus on academics. She also appreciates the help with her homework she receives for at least an hour each day.

“I don’t understand the students who have problems staying after school until 5 p.m.,” she said. “You can do your homework and don’t have to do it when you get home. You’re free.”

Betlach and community partners – primarily Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that focuses on providing quality expanded learning programs for middle school students in low-income communities – have cobbled together federal, state, local and private funding to support the unique program. The school was one of five featured in a national report by the National Center on Time & Learning about financing exceptional expanded learning programs.

Building on partnerships

What makes the expanded school day economically possible is the school’s reliance on AmeriCorps teaching fellows like Bratt. The fellows are funded by the federal government and receive special training from Citizen Schools staff on how to teach in an urban environment. They are involved in both the academic morning program and the after-school classes from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, helping to provide a seamless transition for students. The schedule also allows the regular academic teachers an hour each afternoon, from 2 to 3 p.m., to work collaboratively and plan.

In exchange, the AmeriCorps fellows will have earned their intern teaching credential at the end of their two years at Elmhurst.

Edgard Vidrio, a sixth grade history teacher who joined the Elmhurst staff this year, said he appreciates the variety of opportunities the program is offering his students.

“I have kids in my classroom who have never been on the beach,” he said. “Many are suffering extreme hardships.”

Vidrio says the young, dynamic AmeriCorps teachers develop deep relationships with their students. If a student in his class is upset, he or she will often ask to talk to one of the teaching fellows, Vidrio said.

The fellows also come into the classroom to work with individual students who are behind and teach intensive intervention sessions – called Rise Up! – in the morning that last about half an hour and group students based on their abilities in the subject area.

AmeriCorps teaching fellow Jeannette Aames, who is finishing her second year and hopes to teach high school math in Oakland Unified in the fall, said teaching a math intervention class was her most rewarding experience at Elmhurst. The class of three girls and nine “rowdy boys” could not grasp the concept of negative numbers.

“Direct instruction didn’t work with them,” Aames said, requiring her to develop more hands-on approaches to teach the concept.

Aames also has learned how difficult it is to teach children facing poverty and violence in their community.

The first homicide of the year was a student from Alliance Academy, a middle school that shares a building with Elmhurst.

“We knew him,” she said. “It feels like he was one of our students.”

Last December, the 2-year-old younger brother of one student – and cousin of another – was shot.

“It makes it hard to figure out what motivates each child,” Aames said. “Many of them have a lot bigger things than learning math to take care of, like their parents or their siblings. But I believe there is a way to help every kid feel successful and be successful.”

A fighting chance

Only about a third of the 6th graders come to Elmhurst at grade level, Betlach said. The school has had the greatest success at raising the academic achievement of the lowest third, who enter 6th grade three or more grade levels behind. Most of those lowest-achieving students will improve and graduate from Elmhurst at a 6th or 7th grade level, giving them a fighting chance to succeed in high school, Betlach said.

The students also get opportunities through Citizen Schools to participate in apprenticeships with “citizen teachers,” any adult from the broader Bay Area community who has a passion, such as robotics or radio reporting, to share with the students. The citizen teachers receive basic training on how to teach from Citizen Schools staff before they begin the after-school class.

The citizen teacher is partnered with an AmeriCorps fellow who assists the teacher with handling classroom management. At the end of the apprenticeship, the students make a presentation (called a “WOW”) to their parents and business and community leaders, showcasing what they have learned.

In addition, local companies invite students to their offices for apprenticeship experiences.

Claudia Borquez, left, and Alexis Trejo participate in a robotics "apprenticeship" at Elmhurst Community Prep in Oakland. Credit: Citizen Schools.

Claudia Borquez, left, and Alexis Trejo participate in a robotics “apprenticeship” at Elmhurst Community Prep in Oakland. Credit: Citizen Schools.

At Pandora, students learned how to make an app. “It was a video game where you dodge fireballs,” Betlach recalled.

The school also works with nonprofits such as Waterside Workshops in Berkeley, where the students built a boat.

Students are encouraged to try a number of apprenticeships with the citizen teachers. But in 8th grade they are expected to focus on one after-school activity, sort of like picking a major in college.

Andres McDade, who tried robotics, skateboarding and film, chose to major in music this year as an 8th grader. He plays the saxophone and percussion drum.

“I like the joy of playing music,” he said, adding that the AmeriCorps teachers have showed him how music can help him get a scholarship to college.

McDade hopes to attend UC Berkeley. “I hear it’s a good school academically,” he said.

Susan Frey covers expanded learning. Contact her. Sign up here for a no-cost online subscription to EdSource Today for reports from the largest education reporting team in California. 

Filed under: Curriculum, Deeper Learning, Expanded Learning, High-Needs Students, Reforms, Testing and Accountability

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22 Responses to “Nine-hour school day is the norm – and a national model – at Oakland middle school”

  1. Julie Arias said

    on February 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    The problem with the 9 hour day is it won’t be long before someone decides more instruction time is needed to help the low performing students and they will end up with 9 hours of sitting at a desk. The regular 7 hour school day used to include art, music and PE. In my middle school days, in these 7 hours we had PE, health, art, music, home economics. wood and metal shop, orchestra, choir, and band.

    What is wrong with providing optional extra curricular activities after school? and during the regular school day? (like schools used to). In high school it was common for me to be at school until 5 pm or later with theater, speech, newspaper, journalism, knowledge bowl, mock trial, etc. Yet, I had the freedom to pick and choose.

  2. Don said

    on February 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Well, I’m not suggesting that anyone work for free and I don’t know where that came from. I asked where the money would come from? But in my own experience, some of these afterschool programs have notoriously poor academic assistance and the quality issues may outweigh the increase in hours (quantity). And extended school day is something very different from an afterschool program.

  3. Don said

    on February 13, 2014 at 9:13 am

    I’m not familiar enough with the political forces at work in the OUSD, but I can tell you that lift off of a nine-hour school day in the United Educator’s controlled San Francisco Unified School District would look something like the Hindenburg. We don’t have one TPS with extended day.

    The problem is that the unions will never allow such an extension and while anecdotal examples of extended day schools pop up here and there, even if hypnosis of union leadership yielded a more reform- amenable mentality, California can’t just scrape up a 30% or $15B increase in funding for education to make such an extended day universal.

    • Paul replied

      on February 13, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Don, what other professional group works for free? Would your doctor take on 10% more patients with no extra billings? Class sizes have risen by more than 10% in recent years. Would you electrician put in an extra hour every day, without expecting to be paid for it?

      The 9-hour day at this Oakland school was accomplished in the right way: by ADDING a mix of staff, including teachers with Internship Credentials, rather than, as you suggest, making people who are already overworked work do even more. Beyond providing after-school instruction for students, this school scheduled its extra personnel in such a way that the regular-day teachers receive a daily hour of collaboration time — unprecedented and highly effective.

      In middle and high schools, I found myself with 5.5-6 daily hours of student contact, a minimum of 8 daily hours of on-site time (for physical preparation — copying, paperwork/filing, materials setup, classroom cleaning, loading presentations on computers or preparing transparencies in non-equipped rooms, telephoning or meeting with parents, attending staff meetings, attending IEP and intervention meetings, grading non-movable items like projects and class sets of binders, etc., etc.). Then, I’d go home and spend additional hours making lesson plans, drafting tests, grading tests, entering grades on-line, and answering e-mails from administrators, colleagues, parents and students. Thus, even a “regular” school day went far beyond contact hours, and on-site hours, encroaching on my personal life and my sleep time.

      Not a dime was ever offered for the extra hours I spent, and though you seem to expect UESF to formally agree to unpaid extra hours, I wouldn’t say yes even if you were willing to pay me. No amount of money can create extra hours in an already full day.

      • Leslie Ruben replied

        on February 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm

        Ever hear of 9 x9 instead of 8 x 10? Every two weeks you get a day off, but you work 9 hours except the Friday you work, and every other week Friday is off for the 8 extra hours.

        9 hours is nothing. Many work 12. Maybe it’s fair to ask for that in return for the 70 extra days off teachers get that most of us don’t. Sure pay will rise, but with that we have to make it easier to fire bad teachers. But whining about a couple hours, 9 hours is what most of us work anyways. You should be ashamed of the test scores we have and intrinsically motivated to work to fix that. I bet it still would come to way fewer than the typical 2000 hours a year most of us work, and 3000 many of us work. 9 hours a day times 180 and you’re whining? Hello!

      • Don replied

        on February 13, 2014 at 8:08 pm

        Take it easy, Paul. I think if you look at my comment you will see that I never suggested that teachers work for free. Quite the opposite. You have me pegged for some anti-teacher extremist because I suspect you take anyone who doesn’t agree with the union lock stock and barrel to be a staunch anti-union activist. The irony is that the teacher’s unions aren’t doing their members a service with their extreme political views.

        • Paul replied

          on February 14, 2014 at 12:32 am

          Don, I’m sorry, it wasn’t clear that you intended the posited 30%/$15 billion funding increase to go to regular-day teachers, in exchange for a longer work day.

          Even so, money cannot add hours to the day. I’m not in the classroom anymore, but in the years when I taught in middle- and high schools, the time demands of the regular day stretched me to my physical limits.

          As a second-career teacher doomed to remain at the bottom of the seniority list in each district and to take the most challenging teaching assignments in each school, I have mixed feelings about teachers’ unions.

          They have been singularly ineffective in raising compensation to levels appropriate for a regulated profession whose members need 6 years of postsecondary education (bachelor’s degree + fifth-year teaching credential + credit equivalent for BTSA induction). Compare the compensation gains that nurses, police and firefighters have won over the past 15 years.

          With school districts abusing the law in important areas like temporary versus probationary employment; insisting on ever larger class sizes; demanding ever greater amounts of unpaid time; and hiring legions of very-young, barely-competent principals, there being so few seasoned candidates left; teachers’ unions are necessary. And someone has to respond to these political, legislative and judicial efforts to make all teachers at-will employees, subject to dismissal without cause.

          The unions are inflexible because teachers have lost ground on every front, from wages to pensions to health benefits to class size.

          Leslie, I was the epitome of intrinsic motivation, voluntarily putting in far more than my contract hours, event though I knew that I would not have a job the next year.

          In case you didn’t know, teachers are not paid for summer. Some districts allow teachers to spread their ten months’ pay over twelve months, but the total always depends on a simple formula:

          days taught * ( salary / days of school in the academic year )

          This becomes painfully evident when, for example, you are hired mid-year, or you exhaust your sick leave during a long illness.

    • el replied

      on February 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

      My local district has an optional extended day program through a community nonprofit afterschool program that is tightly integrated with the school and runs in school-owned facilities. The teachers are highly supportive of it.

      The staff at the extended day program are not certificated. There is homework help, supervised play, and special interest activities offered.

      One of the advantages for this particular situation is that talented subject matter experts can be brought in to work with the kids. For years, it was impossible to bring in a certificated music teacher – not enough students/funding to make a 1.0 FTE position. However, it was possible to bring in a professional musician and music teacher once a week to work with kids.

      The teachers are happy because the kids they teach get more supervised and structured homework time as well as those additional enriching activities. The existence of the full day program also improves logistics for kids staying after school for help with their regular teacher.

  4. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Paul, I don’t think teachers are overpaid. I think they should be paid more. I just think the union is wrong to make it so hard to fire bad ones and make lay offs and pay all based on seniority. Seniority by it’s very nature discourages hustling, striving, and even adherence to reforms.

    I think you make good points that it might make it harder to motivate some kids. Our culture is not a pro-intellectual culture. I’ve known kids who were great students and they pretend to be average to fit in. In Europe and Asia it’s more cool to b ea great student, at least in many nations in both continents.

    I think there are too many rules. This is part of my problem with the union, it is indicative of the California Constitution vs. the US one. There are so many regulations it’s hard to reform without violating some rule. I think we need to use common sense and say forget every rule, dare them to enforce them. You should be able to grade based on your beliefs and advise parents. Poverty passes from generation to generation because no one steps in. Schools have done an impressive job stepping in and interfering with the passing down of many negative, in my liberal view, societal characteristics, such as racism, interracial dating, religious intolerance, homophobia, ignorance of birth control and sexuality, and smoking and now obesity and health, as well as drugs and alcohol. Conservatives are livid about homophobia and even interracial dating, etc. Schools bridged a gap between an older generation saying being gay is wrong, dating interracially is wrong, and some races are inferior, and the younger generation learning differently, part of why Rick Santorum keeps his kids out of schools.

    We can also pass down habits. Amy Chua and her husband have done great research on what it takes to thrive. Paul Tough, Geoffrey Canada and others have done this. It is not a cultural difference to be accepted that some kids study 5 or fewer hours a week and not at all on weekends or in Summers and others study 20-25 or more hours a week. It is as harmful to these kids as tobacco, racism, and ignorance of birth control can be, more harmful than obesity, homophobia, etc. I don’t mean to differentiate the problems, just mixing it up. Habits and lack of mobility are huge problems. The fact that Chua has been attacked shows how hard it is in America to discuss different groups, different habits, and what children should do to improve their lives and futures. Education on impulse control, how important grades, reading and SAT Scores are to one’s future, and pushing yourself to achieve the best of your innate talent are crucial to children’s futures. Ignoring it is doing them a disservice.

    I believe it is so important it might be of value to give a small award to children based on grades to represent the huge future reward. Imagine if at the end of each semester starting in 6th grade/middle school, 4.00 students got a $100 check, 3.5 $50, and 3.00 or higher $25, with nothing for anyone under a 3.00. Kids would come in with the things they bought, talk about it, kids would be saying darn, I got a 3.83, only 50, I will get that tutor and get that extra A next time, study all weekend. It’s not so much the money as the recognition with something cool to back it up. I think we should experiment with it.

    Paying $600 over 3 years, or an average probably of 300, would probably lead to less future costs for incarceration, food stamps, welfare, housing, unemployment, etc.

    One way or another, schools need to teach kids how important habits are. You shouldn’t have to spend your money and you are probably significantly underpaid. I believe most teachers are, and that if they stopped defending the few who aren’t, overall pay would go up.

    • Paul replied

      on February 13, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Floyd, there actually was an experiment that involved a school’s paying students for good grades. I don’t remember the details, but you could look it up. This was within the last several years.

      As someone who won an award — in those days, a fancy wooden plaque with a painted metal crest and an engraved nameplate — for receiving the top grade in each of my 32 high school classes, I can say that it’s as important to recognize effort by low achievers as it is to recognize effort by high achievers. My shoebox full of awards, if distributed in a sincere and not patronizing way (too often we reward kids for not doing anything, which they see right through), might have motivated some of my lower-performing classmates.

      I had the good fortune to teach a lot of remedial classes, including a high school exit exam math course for seniors one year, and an adult algebra class in my final year of teaching. We celebrated very small improvements, knowing that moving from an F to a D meant a chance to pass. (There were also some large improvements.)

      This brings me to another point. There is a difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Current thought is that we have to find ways to motivate students intrinsically, because the incentives associated with extrinsic motivation often become ends in themselves. The chance to win large sums of money, for example, might lead students to cram, even if they had no interest in the subject matter.

      • el replied

        on February 13, 2014 at 11:05 am

        IIRC there have been several experiments with paying kids for grades in various forms – small amounts of cash, large amounts of cash, guaranteed scholarships, etc.

        An alternative is to reward not the grade but cofactors – for example, giving cash or other rewards for stretches of perfect attendance.

  5. Paul said

    on February 11, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Floyd, having teachers with high GPAs tell students to study harder doesn’t work.

    Backed up by real rewards and consequences, parents can make children do things.

    As a teacher, I cannot make students (or parents) do anything.

    The Education Code does not authorize me to apply consequences for poor academic work, other than notifying the parent that the child is in danger of failing, and then mailing a report card with a bad grade. Meaningful consequences such as cutting off cell phone or Internet access are unavailable.

    For poor attendance, I am forbidden from imposing consequences. Ed Code 48200 contains a long list of excuses. IF my board has a policy, 49067(b) lets me issue a failing grade (again, not tangible to a child) for excessive UNexcused absences. The parent gets a chance to “explain” with catch-alls from 48200, including “illness” and “personal reasons”.

    For bad behavior, the toughest consequence I can impose is a two-day out-of-class, in-school suspension (48910). Except for violence, drug use, theft, etc., 48900(k) willful defiance/disruption is my only justification. State legislators, “public interest” lawyers and school districts now oppose 48900(k) because they believe it fosters racial inequality.

    I am left with appeals to parents, who will either agree that their children are capable of better work, or tell the principal that I expect too much. I can, of course, hand out such prizes as I can afford on what you insist is a generous salary.

    As for academic achievement, I could show my diplomas and my Phi Beta Kappa pin and talk about my scholarships and my 3.9+ GPA. For you, and a small cadre of the students and parents I’ve served, those achievements matter. For most, mentioning achievements would be off-putting.

    I believe that strong academic achievement is necessary but not sufficient for success in teaching. Academic skills help with content, but do not make one iota of difference in a teacher’s ability to motivate. In today’s permissive climate, motivation depends on relationships and psychology. Telling students to study harder does no good.

  6. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 11, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    The problem is all good colleges require you to be very good at something outside of school, an instrument, sport or other artistic or volunteer activity. To do really well, you have to study Summers. Bad parents don’t make their kids do any work weekends or Summers, and you can’t do it without that. As for value add, teachers mostly come from the bottom half of college graduates, so they are not likely to try to convince kids to study long hours because they didn’t in college, most were mediocre in college. Anyone who had under a 3.00 in UC or under a 3.25 in State is not going to push grades. Poor kids need to be obsessive over grades because they don’t have connections and don’t study Summers and rarely weekends. Richer kids, with parents talking about politics, sending them to camps, and making their kids read a lot and study each Summer, can get away with fewer hours, but still most rich kids don’t do enough, which is why our rich and poor do worse than those in most advanced nations.

    What we really need to do is have teachers who teach children they have to study very, very hard to have a chance to get out of poverty and be nothing like their parents, or even their teachers. They need a far superior work ethic, which is why Asians are the only group that escapes poverty in large numbers. 12.9% of kids born in the bottom quintile in San Jose escape, vs. 4.4% in Charlotte. Why? Many very determined Vietnemese refugees.

  7. el said

    on February 11, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I think these extended day programs hold a lot of promise. They need to include a variety of options to satisfy different interests, and they need to be freely available to kids of all income levels, not just kids we target as low income. Further, I think they are a boon to working parents

    I don’t think it works to have the extra time mandated for all kids – there will always be kids with interests outside of what the school program offers, and in family situations that let them pursue those interests. But creating more of these programs, well-funded, and with exciting opportunities, is a direction I’d like to see us go.

    • Paul replied

      on February 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      My thoughts exactly, el… Participation should be open to all, with no stigma that the after-school program is specifically for low-income students. On the other hand, students who wish to opt out should be free to pursue their own interests.

  8. Paul said

    on February 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

    The scheduled daily hour of collaboration time for regular-day teachers is unique. It’s especially important in a departmentalized setting, where the student spends parts of his or her day with different teachers, each of whom is focused on one subject. Systemic collaboration aids the departments (in terms of consistency, pooling of resources, sharing of best practices, and opportunity for critical discussion) and the students (in terms of potential for interdisciplinary/thematic lessons, coordination across related subjects such as math and science, and sharing of information about a student’s particular needs, aptitudes and preferences with all of the teachers who serve the student). One thought would be to add paid collaboration time for classified staff, such as special education aides, who also work in classrooms. That would be unprecedented, and also valuable.

    As for the after-school teachers, I’m surprised no one has yet noticed that they hold Internship Credentials! California’s 47-year-old alternative certification pathway is often misunderstood here to admit unqualified people to the classroom when in fact, the candidates complete all regular certification requirements but with a longer, more authentic, and more responsible classroom experience. The Reach Insititute, which operates this internship program, looks like an interesting outfit. One question: CTC regulations require each intern to be employed as teacher of record in a minumim 50% time position in the subject of his or her credential. This cannot be accomplished just through after-school teaching, nor through work in a variety of subjects, let alone ones outside the CTC’s list of 13 basic subjects. To what teaching positions are the interns assigned during the regular school day?

    Side note: Teaching is a specialized profession. The belief that everyone else, from parents to pundits, knows better than the people who do the work, must stop. It is arrogant in the extreme for outsiders to propose a required reading list. Would you tell your doctor what to read? An effective teacher needs Van de Walle (for example), not another fad mass-market paperback.

  9. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 10, 2014 at 3:21 am

    This is a good idea. So many kids have terrible or mediocre parents, schools need to make up for it or the kids will end up failures. However, teachers need extra training in what makes one successful or not. Teachers should be required to read ‘Triple Package’, the new book by Jed Rubenstein and Amy Chua (Tiger Mom, but before you criticize her, she is beyond criticism now that she got her daughter into both Harvard and Yale, if you didn’t do that, you can’t talk). Also, Tony Robbins, the 7 habits of highly effective people, books like this. Plus, meditation is working wonders at Visitacion Valley Middle School in SF. Kids need to study long hours and few do it at home. This has the potential to close the achievement gap once and for all, if they use some of the time to teach kids habits of winners. Kids need to work harder and be more competitive about grades. This is a good thing!

    • Paul Muench replied

      on February 10, 2014 at 7:36 am

      Competition can spur students on to be the best, but that will hold them back if the best is less than they are capable of. Better to continuously strive to improve oneself. With the rise of online college courses I wonder if attending Harvard and Yale is a sign of a lack of initiative, leadership, and imagination. Those universiities clearly don’t have all tje best professors in the world. Shouldn’t students be designing their own universities these days? In summary that’s my problem with The Tiger Mom, too much reliance on simplistic markers of achievement without any deep explanation of what really matters.

    • navigio replied

      on February 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Harvard and Yale are just a different form of entitlement. Just look at the ‘research’ that is coming out of there and being presented at the Vergara trial about how bad teachers are disproportionately assigned to minority students, yet there is no statistically significant impact of those worse teachers on those students because the difference in teacher effectiveness is essentially nil; followed in nearly the same breath by the claim that the achievement gap could be immediately dissolved by assigning highly effective teachers to minority kids. All in the name of arguing that class size reduction is ‘one of the worst policies in the state of California’. WT_?

      • Floyd Thursby replied

        on February 11, 2014 at 1:49 am

        Navigio, of course teachers make a difference, which is why we need desperately to end a culture of LIFO, seniority, tenure and due process protections (excessive ones). You can’t solve the gap that way though until you solve the hours studied gap (13.8 a week for Asians, 5.6 for whites, fewer for others), the kindergarten prep gap (60% of Asians prep their kids for kindergarten vs. 16% for whites, fewer for others) and other gaps, TV, single parents, focus, library use, etc. It has a lot of sources. LIFO is part of the problem but not all of it.

        • navigio replied

          on February 11, 2014 at 7:37 am

          ‘Of course’? In which way? Reality or in theory. In what we’re actually doing, or in what you think we’re doing? Read his research. I’ll provide at least one ‘insightful’ quote:

          We find that more than 85% of the variance in teacher VA is within rather than between schools. Better performing students get better teachers in subsequent grades: students who score 1 SD higher in the previous grade have teachers whose VA is 0.01 units higher. Similarly, students from higher income families have slightly better teachers on average. However, there is no correlation between parent income and teacher VA conditional on lagged test scores, consistent with our results on bias. The differences in teacher quality we document explain a small share of the achievement gap between high- and low-SES students. We estimate that the correlation between parent income and 8th grade test scores is amplified by at most 3% because of differences in teacher quality from grades K-8. This is not because teachers are unimportant–one could close most of the achievement gap by assigning highly effective teachers to low-SES students–but rather because teacher VA does not differ substantially across schools in the district we study.

          That’s incredible since, as mentioned previously, the income-based gap is a full 50 percentage points on a 100 point scale. The amount of consistency is even more amazing given that VA (value add) is measured by previous test scores, ie the impact of the described selection process would have a cumulatively recursive impact on VA unless perfectly accounted for. 3%; 0.01 units; priceless.

      • Gary Ravani replied

        on February 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm

        Navigio:

        You must mean the Raj Chetty–out of Harvard–“study” (much debunked) being used by Students Matter in their pseudo arguments to support their case. If it was not–which it is–based on the thoroughly unreliable VAM calculations this is how it pencils out:

        CLAIM: “IN LAUSD a “class” of students “loses” $2.1 million in lifetime earnings by having “ineffective teachers.”

        Class in LAUSD 35 (or so) students. That’s $2.1 mil divided by 35 = $60,000

        Work career-25 to 65 = 40 years-so $60,000 divide by 40 = $1,500 per year

        Work year = 50 weeks-so $1500 divided by 50 = $30 per week-a medium latte and a small cookie per work day.

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