I have been working with the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency at Truman High School in Taylor, Michigan. I am very familiar with this community because I have lived in Taylor for about 18 years and I graduated from Truman High School. I have really enjoyed working in the city that I live in and I think it has connected me with my community even further.

When driving around Taylor I noticed a lot of things that affect students in the community. There have been 6 elementary school closings in the past 10 years and these buildings are currently vacant. This a huge disadvantage for the students because their class sizes have increased dramatically due to school closings. About four years ago, the 6th grade academy opened and now educates all of the district’s 6th grade students. The idea is that the students can get used to the changes that middle school can bring and to socialize the students more efficiently. 

As for the high schools, there are two: Harry S Truman High School and John F. Kennedy High School. Both of these schools have many programs for students after school. Programs such as the Wayne Metro group, City Year, after school tutoring and much more. These programs are mostly funded from outside of the district and help to save a lot of money and benefit the students socially and academically. There is also the Taylor Teen Health center that students can use as a resource in their community. The students can come to this center for help with social problems, sexual health, peer mediation and health issues. This program does a lot to help students in any way they can and they even put up summer camps to assist with the growth of the children in the community.

In cooperation with each of the high schools, the district also maintains at Career Services Center for the High School students who want to get hands on experience in a certain skill. These programs include: Culinary Arts/Hospitality & Tourism, Animation and Web Design, Computer Programming, Entrepreneurship and Business Management, Construction Remolding/Repair, Health Sciences, and Welding & Fabrication. I think that this particular school is a great resource for the students but when I attended Truman, I had no idea that the Career center offered so many programs. I think that the district should promote and utilize this program more. 

During my drive around the community, I noticed a lot of buildings that are no longer used. The community center, for example, has been closed down and the pool has been filled in with cement. Five years ago, the city of Taylor had 2 community pools for the residents to use and today they are both permanently closed. There are several community sports leagues that  meet at two city parks (Heritage and Papp park). These programs continue to grow each year but the parks that they are using seem to be kept up less and less. When visiting the parks, I noticed that several of the play grounds have been taken apart. I noticed that most of what made these parks enjoyable for me when I was young have been stripped away. There are still some positive things in the community but unfortunately most of the activities take place during the summer. I imagine because it is easier to get people to attend events when the weather is nice. Overall, I would say that Taylor is the typical urban community. It has some disadvantages throughout the area but it certainly has benefits that tend to not be publicized enough.

Advertisements

Thesis for Social Justice Essay:

“Standardized testing aims to measure the progress of students, teachers and schools all around the country but in reality it ignores socioeconomic status and other environmental factors that can contribute to low scores– therefore the tests will continue to solidify the achievement gap between racial minorities and their majority counterpoints instead of reducing it.”

Sources:

(1) Talbert-Johnson, C. (2004). Structural inequities and the achievement gap in urban schools. Education and Urban Society,37(1), 22-36. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/202715481?accountid=14925
If teachers represent a child’s most important asset, they also can be a child’s greatest liability, especially in states where a shortage of well-qualified teachers impedes the academic progress of African American students in learning contexts. The author asserts that a transformation in practices must occur in teacher education programs if these programs are to become places where preservice candidates learn to adopt pedagogies that are instrumental in the academic achievement of African American students in urban schools. A proposal for comprehensive, transformative approaches for achieving systemic change is warranted in the eradication of structural inequities that currently exist in urban schools.

(2) Hunter, R. C., & Bartee, R. (2003). The achievement gap: Issues of competition, class, and race. Education and Urban Society, 35(2), 151-160. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/62165367?accountid=14925
Asserts that closing the racial achievement gap does not necessarily require more competition and choice, but does require that educational objectives are clearly defined, practices adequately aligned, and evaluations based on long-term effectiveness. Highlights the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), discussing sociological and historical perspectives of competition, racial and nonracial effects of standardized testing, and implications of the achievement gap for the NCLB. (SM)

(3) English, F. W. (2002). On the intractability of the achievement gap in urban schools and the discursive practice of continuing racial discrimination. Education and Urban Society, 34(3), 298-311. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/62293828?accountid=14925
Achievement gaps between minority and white students may never be resolved because they are an artifact of a measurement process that uses flawed tests to assess student progress. IQ and achievement testing have always shown that socioeconomic status (SES) is critical in explaining test score variance. SES is part of the concept of cultural capital, which significantly predicts student success.

(4) Norman, O., Ault, C. R., Bentz, B., & Meskimen, L. (2001). The black-white “achievement gap” as a perennial challenge of urban science education: A sociocultural and historical overview with implications for research and practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(10), 1101-1114. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/62277875?accountid=14925
Explores how sociocultural factors involved in the manifestation and eventual disappearance of the gap for these groups may shed light on how to address the achievement gap for African American students in urban science education.

(5) Kang, J. S. E.Depth and breadth: Bridging the gap between scientific inquiry and high-stakes testing with diverse junior high school students. , 275-275. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/1011398986?accountid=14925. (1011398986; ED530266).
This study explored how inquiry-based teaching and learning processes occurred in two teachers’ diverse 8th grade Physical Science classrooms in a Program Improvement junior high school within the context of high-stakes standardized testing. Instructors for the courses examined included not only the two 8th grade science teachers, but also graduate fellows from a nearby university. Research was drawn from inquiry-based instruction in science education, the achievement gap, and the high stakes testing movement, as well as situated learning theory to understand how opportunities for inquiry were negotiated within the diverse classroom context. Transcripts of taped class sessions; student work samples; interviews of teachers and students; and scores from the California Standards Test in science were collected and analyzed. Findings indicated that the teachers provided structured inquiry in order to support their students in learning about forces and to prepare them for the standardized test. Teachers also supported students in generating evidence-based explanations, connecting inquiry-based investigations with content on forces, proficiently using science vocabulary, and connecting concepts about forces to their daily lives. Findings from classroom data revealed constraints to student learning: students’ limited language proficiency, peer counter culture, and limited time. Supports were evidenced as well: graduate fellows’ support during investigations, teachers’ guided questioning, standardized test preparation, literacy support, and home-school connections. There was no statistical difference in achievement on the Forces Unit test or science standardized test between classes with graduate fellows and without fellows. There was also no statistical difference in student performance between the two teachers’ classrooms, even though their teaching styles were very different. However, there was a strong correlation between students’ achievement on the chapter test and their achievement on the Forces portion of the CST. Students’ English language proficiency and socioeconomic status were also strongly correlated with their achievement on the standardized test. Notwithstanding the constraints of standardized testing, the teachers had students practice the heart of inquiry–to connect evidence with explanations and process with content. Engaging in inquiry-based instruction provided a context for students, even English language learners, to demonstrate their knowledge of forces. Students had stronger and more detailed ideas about concepts when they engaged in activities that were tightly connected to the concepts, as well as to their lives and experiences. The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC.

For my personal goals in Education, I plan to utilize Constructivism in my classroom on a daily basis. I believe that this particular learning theory can maximize our ability, as educators, to prepare our youth for the world that they are a part of. Constructivism relies on the reflection of past knowledge and experiences to build an understanding of the world around you. Everything is connected when it comes to expanding the knowledge of our youth and it’s important to build on their existing knowledge. It is also important to have a complete understanding of this method because I believe that in order to teach well, we must understand the way that students perceive the information that they are given and this relies heavily on their individual experiences.

Constructivism will come in handy for me when my students are reading literature; because literature is all about your interpretation mixed with the intentions of the author. Therefore, the student will need to develop an understanding of how the author operates and what message is being sent. This is where constructivism comes in. It is up to me to set an atmosphere, paint a picture of the life that the author lived, and to know more than what’s on the page. With these things, the teacher can provide the necessary means for the student to be on the right track.

I also plan on my classroom relying on intense dialogue between my students and myself. I think that this is crucial for many reasons and I will highlight a few:

1. I think it’s important for students to realize that there can be a common ground between opposing opinions. This will foster more acceptance and understanding of diversity.

2. When students try to explain something, I can see the extent of their understanding.  This will provide as a useful tool to decide which direction to take the lesson.

3. I believe that every person I meet has something to teach me. This does not exclude my students. One of the many reasons that I have decided to go into Education is the fact that I will also be consistently learning. I hope to never lose sight of this.

4. A main aspect of my job is to create well-rounded and informed citizens. As we all know there comes many times in a professional setting that “they may need to offer information, ask questions, or argue for a different solution… It’s one of those skills best developed with practice” (http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/10-benefits-of-getting-students-to-participate-in-classroom-discussions/).

           

I believe that the best way to stay committed to Diversity is to stay committed to your students and to not lose sight of the fact that their individual backgrounds contribute and limit their understanding. The key is to find a way to adapt to them and to be aware that there will be no one method of teaching for every student. By the educator adapting to students and the students adapting to the educator, we provide students and ourselves to value flexibility and opposing opinions. This is why I feel that Constructivism is so crucial in the classroom. It provides never-ending adaptation for the students and the educator so that there is never a cap on the lesson learned.

Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency: Truman High School

 

Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I’ve got a very tangible grasp of my experience at Truman High School yet. This is because I have only worked with my Site Manager once and been to the actual site twice.  So far, my biggest accomplishment is learning all of the students’ names. They were so excited when they didn’t see me for two weeks and I still remembered their names. It also made me pretty happy because that was my main goal for my second day with them: “Ok, Holly. It’s been two weeks since you’ve met them… And there are some pretty unique names… But you’ve got this.”

 At first I felt like more of a burden than someone there to help but I feel like the students are starting to like me. It was kind of a culture shock for me to work with High School students after being in AmeriCorps NCCC. Working with young adults is drastically different than these students. Thankfully, I am not one to hold grudges and I think that the students are noticing this. When I correct them, or have to get stern with the rules, I address it then move on. I don’t like to hold it against them for the rest of the day unless their attitude doesn’t change. This is actually pretty effective for them. The most diverse factor that is apparent to me is their emotional maturity. This is not the type of diversity that I initially expected but I am quickly learning that each of them needs a different approach when it comes to instruction but they all respond well when they feel respected.

 

The great thing about this organization is that I never know what to expect. On Monday, part of my task was to have one of the students paint my nails (Monday’s Enrichment activity is learning how to do nails with an expert). It’s hard to say what I’ll be doing each time but as of right now, my day consists of:

12:30pm-1:30pm: assist Group Leaders with planning and set up for daily activities/sessions.

 1:30pm-2:20pm: clean and set up the cafeteria for program day

 2:20pm-2:30pm: make sure students sign in and begin finding out which ones have homework

 2:30pm-3:15pm: assist with homework/tutoring

3:15pm-5:00pm: assist with enrichment sessions or Parenting tasks as needed*

*I am working on a project with my site supervisor on trying to get more parent involvement. I am not entirely sure of my responsibilities yet but it’s starting with creating a spreadsheet with they’re contact information and creating a newsletter for the parents so they can stay updated on upcoming events for the program. This is going to be an on-going effort to get the parents involved throughout their student’s journey with the program.

Achievement Gap, of Students (GVRL)

This article went in many directions when trying to explain the cause of our Achievement Gap but I want to narrow it down to one in particular—socioeconomic status. Research has shown that there is no single influence on the Achievement Gap and it is nearly impossible say which issue should be addressed first; because everyone has different priorities. However, this particular article explicitly points out that almost all educational gaps “… indicate that socioeconomic status is a key indicator: that children from lower-income families tend not to do as well in school as their higher-income counterparts.” While the cause is clear, the remedy is not. The inability to access the same education as communities that have more funding continues to be a problem for students living in poverty. With that said, socioeconomic status undoubtedly plays a role in the success and/or failure of a student.

 

Source Citation 

English, Fenwick W. “Achievement Gap, of Students.” Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration. Ed. Fenwick W. English. Vol. 1. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference, 2006. 13-15. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

Document URL

http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3469600016&v=2.1&u=lom_waynesu&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w

 

 

 

Opposing viewpoints on the Achievement Gap:

  1. Whitman, David. “Public Schools That Teach Character Help Close the Achievement Gap.” Should Character be Taught in School? Ed. Noël Merino. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. At Issue. Rpt. from “An Appeal to Authority: The New Paternalism in Urban Schools.” Education Next 8.4 (Fall 2008): 53-58. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
  2. Davis, Jennifer. “Extended-Time Schools Benefit Students.” Year-Round Schools. Ed. Adriane Ruggiero. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. At Issue. Rpt. from “The Promise of Extended-Time Schools for Closing the Achievement Gap: A Speech to the National Association of Year-Round Education.” Massachusetts 2020. 2006. 2-15. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Feb. 2013
  3. Teske, Paul, Gabriel Kaplan, and Jody Fitzpatrick. “Members of All Social Classes Have Equal Access to Educational Information.” The Achievement Gap. Ed. Karen Miller. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “‘The Information Gap?’: Academic Achievement.” Review of Policy Research 23 (Sept. 2006): 969-981. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achievement_gap

 

Wikipedia provided a lot of options for the direction of my research paper. When I initially signed up to research the Achievement Gap in the United States, I didn’t fully understand the many factors that go into it. After reading the site, it has become obvious to me that I may need to focus on one or two influences of the Gap. Wikipedia said that the “Achievement gap refers to the observed and persistent disparity on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The achievement gap can be observed on a variety of measures, including standardized test scores, grade point average, dropout rates, and college-enrollment and -completion rates.” There are many influences to the achievement gap and it’s important to note that school-life, community-life, and home-life all play a crucial role in the success of our students. The site also attempted to categorize the causes of the Achievement Gap into 3 main areas: Structure and institutional factors, early childhood investment, and environmental factors.

Possible sources (from Proquest) for my paper:

1. Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). From the achievement gap to the education debt: Understanding achievement in U.S. schools. Educational Researcher, 35(7), 3-12. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/62036393?accountid=14925

2. Chatterji, M. (2006). Reading achievement gaps, correlates, and moderators of early reading achievement: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study (ECLS) kindergarten to first grade sample. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(3), 489-489. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/210974884?accountid=14925

3. Geoffroy, M., Cote, M. S., Giguere, C., Dionne, G., Zelazo, P. D., Tremblay, R. E., . . . Seguin, R. J. (2010). Closing the gap in   academic readiness and achievement: The role of early childcare. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(12), 1359-1367. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/822506720?accountid=14925

PART 1

When trying to decide which Educational Goal is more prevalent in schools today, I had a very difficult time. Am I more passionate about the success of my students to achieve their dreams or about the effect that the success of my students has on society?  It’s a very fine line and extremely hard for me to pick a side… However, if I am staying true to myself and to the type of educator I want to be, I would have to say that Social Efficiency needs to be a main priority in our educational system.

I believe that Democratic Equality and Social Mobility are important components of American society and should be considered in our Educational system but I also think that ensuring Social Efficiency in our society calls for a great deal of involvement from our schools. This involvement is why I feel that Social Efficiency takes priority. In order to function as a Society that ensures Democratic Equality and allows Social Mobility, we need to find the best way to operate with Social Efficiency. I look at Democratic Equality and Social Mobility as the ultimate goal in American Society and Social Efficiency is what gets us there. This is where the educational system comes in– The idea is that (through Social Efficiency) schools supply “…workers with skills that will enhance their productivity and therefor promote economic growth. This logic… argues that support for education is not just a matter of moral or political correctness but a matter of good economic sense” (Labaree 11).

When I was in AmeriCorps NCCC, I learned a lot about adjusting to the needs of the community around me. It wasn’t necessarily tasks that challenged me mentally or were things that I would normally participate in but I felt nothing but pride in my accomplishments because they connected me with my community. I think that it’s important to incorporate that idea into our curriculum. As educators, we can develop a plan of work for the students that ensures student’s understanding of society’s needs, or one that gets them more involved in their community. I think having passion is important and I think it’s lucky to have a profession that you’re passionate about in today’s society. However, I think it’s more important to consider the needs of our community before the needs of individuals. As a structure, we should focus on society. As individuals, the students decide how they will impact society. As educators, the goal is to provide the students with the knowledge they need to be successful in today’s world.

“While the goal of democratic equality promotes schools that prepare students for the full range of political and social roles in the community, the social efficiency goal promotes a structure of schooling that limits these possibilities in the name of economic necessity…” (Labaree 13) but I think it’s important to remember that “from the social efficiency perspective, society counts on schools to provide the human capital it needs to enhance productivity in all phases of economic life, which means that schools must assure that everyone engages in serious learning” (Labaree 13). This is why I feel that Social Efficiency is key to developing a society that ensures democratic equality and allows social mobility– It will give students the motivation to play a positive role in society and make them feel like they’re contribute to something meaningful.

 

PART 2

I don’t think that PCBE should be the base of our educational system. I think it should be something that is factored in when necessary. Our book even says that PCBE should not be  “imposed on teachers” and that it, even done properly, “will not necessarily reach everyone” (127). PCBE should be something that teachers use to expand to the curriculum in place. Educators need to understand that this aspect is included in the job description. That way, everyone gets a unique educational experience but they’re also equipped with the (standard) knowledge to be successful in today’s society.

This means that PCBE should not hinder our academic achievement. Rather, it should improve it. It should also not have an effect on standardized testing. By standard we should think of it more as a foundation. Yes, your students should know these things that they’re being tested on. Everyone should have this basic and standard knowledge. But it doesn’t stop there! It’s up the educators to build from that foundation. This is where PCBE comes in; teachers should feel obligated to give their students the foundation and build off of it using PCBE. “Mastery of the ability to read, write, and speak, to use mathematics, and to have in one’s possession the cultural knowledge required to become employed and be viewed as competent are without question essential outcomes of schooling. But these outcomes should be viewed as a baseline rather than apex of educational goals” (100).