College & Careers

Report: “Student-centered schools” close opportunity gap



Credit: John C. Osborn/EdSource Today

Personalized instruction, high expectations, and hands-on and group learning experiences are helping to close the achievement gap in four Northern California schools, according to a report released today by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE).

Such “student-centered” practices improved the outcomes for African-American and Latino students at two district schools and two district-approved independent charter schools, according to the report, Student-Centered Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap. The district schools both have a linked learning health care theme: Dozier-Libbey Medical High School in Antioch and Life Academy of Health and Bioscience in Oakland. The charter schools both emphasize arts and technology: City Arts and Tech High School in San Francisco and Impact Academy of Arts & Technology in Hayward.

“The numbers are compelling,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University professor and SCOPE faculty director, in published comments about the report. “Students in the study schools showed greater achievement than their peers, had higher graduation rates, were better prepared for college and showed greater persistence in college. Student-centered learning proves to be especially beneficial to economically disadvantaged students and students whose parents have not attended college.”

For example, in all four high schools all Latino students completed the coursework required for four-year state universities in 2011-12 compared with statewide rates of 28 percent. In three of the four schools, all African-American students completed the coursework – and at Dozier-Libbey 94 percent did – compared with 29 percent statewide. All the high schools are relatively small, with Dozier-Libbey the largest at 639 students in 2012-13. Low-income students made up the majority in three of the high schools, with 99 percent of the students at Life Academy being eligible for free and reduced-price meals in 2012-13. At Dozier-Libbey, 48 percent were eligible.

The researchers cite the schools as models for closing the persistent achievement gap between low-income African-American and Latino students and their better-off peers. Today’s jobs require specialized skills and knowledge that cannot be learned through traditional, more structured approaches to learning, the researchers contend. “Low-income students and students of color are particularly unprepared as they are more than likely to attend segregated schools with a narrow and impoverished curriculum,” they say. Besides the more personalized approach to learning, these schools also allow more time for teachers to collaborate and reflect on their practice, according to the report, which contains an educator’s tool.

Filed under: College & Careers, Curriculum, High-Needs Students, Reforms, Testing and Accountability

Tags: , ,

Comments

EdSource encourages a robust debate on education issues and welcomes comments from our readers. The level of thoughtfulness of our community of readers is rare among online news sites. To preserve a civil dialogue, writers should avoid personal, gratuitous attacks and invective. Comments should be relevant to the subject of the article responded to. EdSource retains the right not to publish inappropriate and non-germaine comments. EdSource encourages commenters to use their real names. Commenters who do decide to use a pseudonym should use it consistently.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

16 Responses to “Report: “Student-centered schools” close opportunity gap”

  1. Paul Muench said

    on June 17, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I didn’t see any mention of class size in the report. Is class size information available?

    • Susan Frey replied

      on June 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      The only reference I know of is for Dozier-Libbey, which has average class sizes of 35 except for a smaller advisory class that all students take. The advisory class is 27 students.

  2. Ira Rabois said

    on June 18, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Good article. It seems so logical–if students see the material as compelling, they will want to be in the class and want to learn. I found this to be true for students in my classes. Bring students into the course design process from day one. And I always enjoy hearing the term “student centered learning.” I understand the meaning–but would any good teacher would center instruction anywhere else?

  3. Don said

    on June 18, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Completing course work doesn’t tell us much about student achievement and neither does the study mention performance.

    STAR test results for ELA at SF’s City Arts and Tech show a downward spiral between 2009 and the last year reported, 2011.

    I can appreciate the reform that is being pushed here by SCOPE. It certainly makes sense. But I don’t appreciate headlines that don’t rely on evidence-based achievement results.

    • Paul Muench replied

      on June 20, 2014 at 3:58 am

      With the new “API” coming maybe EdSource wants to coin a new term. The headline mentions opportunity gap instead of achievement gap. If one graduates from high with the right courses then there is the opportunity to go to college. And there are plenty of numbers supporting that opportunity.

      • Don replied

        on June 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

        The study results linked in the article didn’t provide any achievement results though Darling-Hammond is quoted as saying that achievement increased. Show me the data for this assertion. Increasing opportunity is, of course, desirable, but ultimately achievement is the key. My son attends a school with far fewer class offerings with a focus on college prep achievement.

        • Paul Muench replied

          on June 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

          I hear you. But our state legislators are not agreeing with your assertion on achievement which is why we have the new “API”. Achievement results as measured by standard tests will be relatively less important in CA going forward.

  4. Floyd Thursby said

    on June 18, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I agree with Don. Graduation rates are meaningless, particularly with how much they watered down and weakened the exit exam and made it easy. My daughter passed that as a Freshman with over 100 points to spare. If you want to prove the achievement gap is closing, provide STAR test results or SAT results. That is meaningful. Just sitting in a class another year is irrelevant because the critics made the exit exam lose all of it’s original potential meaning. No one fails, but we know a hell of a lot of kids are graduating from our high schools with little ability or knowledge.

  5. Sonja Luchini said

    on June 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Must not have any students with moderate/severe disabilities, English language learners, homeless or foster youth….

  6. el said

    on June 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    It would be interesting to see some schools put together from truly student-based preferences – that is, health care is something that lots of kids are interested in, sure, but not all kids, and it’s something that adults are interested in for kids.

    What would a system that truly let high school kids follow their personal interests with some concentrated learning truly look like, and what kinds of topics would they pick? How do we make a model like this work for kids who don’t happen to be geographically co-located with hundreds of other kids with the same interests?

    Here is an example of a student-centered project that worked out rather well:

    http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/06/cobra-antivenom-molecularly-imprinted-nanoparticles

    It began when a student expressed an interest in snake venom. The project was funded by an outside grant for inquiry-based learning, and was passed along to new high school students each year. Last year, the work, which suggested a method to make synthetic antivenom, was published in Chemical Communications with that original high school student as the lead author.

    But hardcore STEM isn’t the only potential topic for student-led activity. I can imagine projects in welding, writing, auto mechanics, murals, dance…

  7. Diane Friedlaender said

    on July 2, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you for your attention to detail, I am responding to you as the author of the report. The data we presented for CST scores actually spans from 2010-13. As you mentioned, CAT did experience a drop in the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency in ELA for one year. However, since that drop is only from one year after two years of increased scores, we would not consider that a spiral. Despite that drop in proficiency Latino students (who make up 59% of the student population at CAT) are still scoring above the other Latino students in San Francisco schools. Furthermore, in terms of Algebra proficiency, CAT students FAR exceed the performance of demographically similar students in other San Francisco public schools. For example, 58% of African American CAT students compared to 15% of African American students in other district schools demonstrate proficiency in algebra. And, 45% of Latino CAT students compared to 18% of Latino district students and 52% of economically disadvantaged CAT students versus 28% of district economically disadvantaged students are proficient in algebra. The algebra results mark a dramatic increase in test scores over 3 years at CAT. This type of data from CAT in which student performance in study schools is greater than in other district schools is mirrored in the three other schools featured in the study as well.

    Another excellent measure of achievement can be found in college enrollment and persistence rates, the best measure of how well students were prepared for college. Across all the study schools, many students, from 46%–65% of graduates, enrolled in a four year college, mostly within the California state college system. These rates are roughly comparable to the national average for the class of 2007 of 64% of students enrolling in a four-year college. This is the case, despite the fact that the study schools serve more low-income students and students who are the first in their family to go to college than the national average (Shapiro, Dundar, Ziskin, Yuan, & Harrell, 2013). Among the study schools, CAT has the highest college persistence rates. For example, from the graduating class of 2009, 97% of CAT students who enrolled in a 4 year college were still enrolled in their 4th year.

    • Don replied

      on July 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Are you using STAR test results? The last year reported is 2011 for CAT. Most of the 2010 and 2011 scores for the subgroups go unreported on the STAR reporting site. Where are you getting this info from? The number test takers for the AA population are in the single digits, mostly 7, too low for any meaningful comparison. The only reported data is for Latinos in 09 in Algebra is 37% proficient 1 and no data for algebra 2 .This is not sufficient to draw conclusions and they do not jibe with the numbers you present anyway. Not sure where you are getting your information, but I hope you are correct because I would be very pleased to see a charter school outperforming as you claim. It’s just that I cannot corroborate any of the numbers you have provided using CA STAR testing and reporting data.

  8. Diane Friedlaender said

    on July 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you for your attention to detail, I am responding to Don as the author of the report. The data we presented for CST scores actually spans from 2010-13. As you mentioned, CAT did experience a drop in the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency in ELA for one year. However, since that drop is only from one year after two years of increased scores, we would not consider that a spiral. Despite that drop in proficiency Latino students (who make up 59% of the student population at CAT) are still scoring above the other Latino students in San Francisco schools. Furthermore, in terms of Algebra proficiency, CAT students FAR exceed the performance of demographically similar students in other San Francisco public schools. For example, 58% of African American CAT students compared to 15% of African American students in other district schools demonstrate proficiency in algebra. And, 45% of Latino CAT students compared to 18% of Latino district students and 52% of economically disadvantaged CAT students versus 28% of district economically disadvantaged students are proficient in algebra. The algebra results mark a dramatic increase in test scores over 3 years at CAT. This type of data from CAT in which student performance in study schools is greater than in other district schools is mirrored in the three other schools featured in the study as well.

    Another excellent measure of achievement can be found in college enrollment and persistence rates, the best measure of how well students were prepared for college. Across all the study schools, many students, from 46%–65% of graduates, enrolled in a four year college, mostly within the California state college system. These rates are roughly comparable to the national average for the class of 2007 of 64% of students enrolling in a four-year college. This is the case, despite the fact that the study schools serve more low-income students and students who are the first in their family to go to college than the national average (Shapiro, Dundar, Ziskin, Yuan, & Harrell, 2013). Among the study schools, CAT has the highest college persistence rates. For example, from the graduating class of 2009, 97% of CAT students who enrolled in a 4 year college were still enrolled in their 4th year.

  9. Gary Ravani said

    on July 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    The results of this study are very consistent with other research done on the best QEIA schools in CA, schools in Chicago researched by the U of Chicago (before Arne Duncan and Rahm got there to mess things up again), and the work of David Kirp, who looked at disadvantaged school districts across the nation, including Sanger here in CA, and found many similar characteristics. Those characteristics are (from the report): A “more personalized approach to learning, these schools also allow more time for teachers to collaborate and reflect on their practice.” Another key phrase from the study and quoted in the article is: “Low-income students and students of color are particularly unprepared as they are more than likely to attend segregated schools with a narrow and impoverished curriculum,” It is our poorest students that get the most impoverished curriculum, that is, a curriculum devoted to improving test scores above all else. This is the very “narrowing of the curriculum” that the National Research Council tried to warn Arne Duncan would result if all facets of RTTT were indeed implemented which, of course, the states are not doing because the disastrous effects soon became more than evident. Good test scores are a “byproduct” of students having a decent support system at home and in their communities as well as being otherwise free of the ravages of poverty and being continually exposed to out-of-school learning opportunities. According to ETS, CA’s own testing vendor, only about 33% of test score variability can be attributed to in-school factors and teachers are only a part of that 33%. The National Statistical Association recently refined that number, teacher effects on test score variability, to be somewhere between 1% and 14%. This is why pseudo-reforms focusing only on rewarding and/or sanctioning teachers for school test scores has, again according to the National Research Council, been such a staggering failure for the last decade plus. It has all been an effort to get the 33% “tail” of in-school factors to wag the 66% “dog” of out-of-school factors.

    • Gary Ravani replied

      on July 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      Correction : It is the American Statistical Association not “National Statistical Association” and here is a link to their statement about the size of “teacher effects” on test score variability as well as the inadvisability of using student test data in teachers’ evaluations or for other high-stakes decisions.

      https://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Stateme

Template last modified: