Helping Hidden-Gap Schools

Earlier today, Parker posted an important chart showing test scores from Ingraham High School in Seattle where white kids do fairly well and minority students don’t. Schools like this are not the focus of “turnaround” efforts and though they may get in trouble for failing to meet AYP, there is little public will to fire the principal or to close the school. Yet schools like Ingraham obviously have work to do, whether it’s making sure the neediest students get the best teachers, employing technology or other innovations to reach struggling students, or making sure the culture of the schools means that no student will be left behind, whatever it takes. Often these “hidden gap” schools are in suburban or middle class neighborhoods where minority presence is growing quickly without a plan in place for how to create equity within each school. No Child Left Behind exposed some of these schools by requiring schools report test scores by subgroups like race, but the required intervention, money for tutoring, was a superficial answer. As Bryan Hassel of Public Impact recently told me, there’s little research or guidance available to help these schools so right now all we can do is speculate about what might work best. This is an issue that needs foundation investment in research and more policy attention at the local, state, and federal levels.

– Robin Lake

5 Replies to “Helping Hidden-Gap Schools”

  1. When you mention these “hidden gap” schools have a tendency to crop up in suburban middle-class or affluent enclaves with growing numbers of minorities, I wonder if there is a pattern of gaps in other mixed neighborhood situations? For example, are these gaps as persistent in gentrifying neighborhoods where traditionally high-poverty schools are seeing more and more middle-income kids? In other words, besides DSST, where are the schools that teach mixed student populations well?

  2. Good point, Angelique. Many districts address the call for better schools in gentrifying neighborhoods by creating schools-within-schools, say by adding a Montessori program for more affluent families. Such schools effectively create within-school racial segregation, and they often have horrible achievement gaps that go unaddressed.

  3. “Yet schools like Ingraham obviously have work to do, whether it’s making sure the neediest students get the best teachers, employing technology or other innovations to reach struggling students, or making sure the culture of the schools means that no student will be left behind, whatever it takes.”

    It would be good to look deeply into the issue instead of shallowly. The public will is there to get rid of a bad principal but the principal at Ingraham isn’t a bad principal. Funny how a principal thought effective by BOTH staff and parents and students should be thought to get the boot.

    The deeper issue is systemic. Ingraham has the exact same NCLB status as Franklin High School and yet no cries to fire their principal. Looking at the OSPI data, it shows that every – single – comprehensive public high school in Seattle has slowly been sliding down over the last 5 years on closing the gap between minority scores and white scores (not just Ingraham). That would be a systemic problem, meaning that is the district’s job to get in there and support principals and teachers, not fire them.

    So if there’s truly a “hidden gap”, it’s at nearly every public high school in Seattle.

  4. Robin Lake wrote: “the required intervention, money for tutoring, was a superficial answer”.

    Let’s remember that an affluent school would not be eligible for that money for tutoring. That money was only for Title I schools. So, for such “hidden gap” schools, there is no required intervention.

    In the absence of a required intervention, there is often no intervention.

  5. Although this “hidden gap” school is not required to implement interventions wouldn’t they want to? If they feel as though their school is falling through the cracks administrators and classroom teachers should be able to collaborate and work together in order to improve their students’ learning. I’ve been working in an AYP school and we also have Title I, so we are able to get the specialists and materials we need in order to implement interventions. Many schools struggle with helping the minority populations succeed in their learning process. I see a group of my minority students getting pulled out of my classroom everyday in order to get that extra support they need in reading. They improve, but it’s a slow process throughout the year. Many do not graduate out of ELL until years later. Even with our support it’s difficult so I cannot imagine what it is like for this “hidden gap” schools. If we have the No Child Left Behind Act then why are schools like these being over looked? However it’s not just the minority students that we have to worry about. Two of the reasons why my school is an AYP school is because we did not meet the attendance standard and our special education students did not meet the standards either. How can we fix this problem? How can we control our absences or the rate at which our special education students are learning? It does not seem fair to them or the school. We need to be helping these schools succeed and not let them fall behind. There definitely needs to be a required intervention at all schools if they are not meeting AYP.

    One thing that I learned this week is that collaborating and using reflective practices are essential in the success of our schools. It does not only benefit our teachers, but most importantly our students. It will help us learn and grow. Even participating in blogs and professional development seminars will keep us motivated and learning and not be stuck in our same ways. How can we improve student learning? We can accomplish this in many ways, but one of those ways is opening yourself up to others and collaborating with your colleagues. Maybe then we can help these “hidden gap” schools, each other, and our schools with improving student learning. Our children are our future and we do not want them to fall through the cracks.

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