Monday, July 22, 2019

Contributing factors to student achievement Essay Example for Free

Contributing factors to student achievement Essay In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act placed even stronger responsibility on states to raise student performance. As a result of these accountability standards, states must now administer standardized tests to â€Å"measure adequate yearly progress† of all students (2001). They face costly federal mandates and must submit comprehensive plans. The federal law also focuses on narrowing the achievement gap between races. It requires that states monitor the performance of racial and economic subgroups and undertake corrective action in failing schools (Wong, 2004). †¦states are implementing policies that provide incentives to attract and retain teachers and increase student performance. Incentives are helping states recruit new teachers into the work force, attract persons from outside education, retain teachers in the classroom and support accountability programs that focus on school-by-school efforts to boost student achievement (Cornett and Gaines, 2002). Researchers examining student performance consistently find that one of the most important influences on student achievement is socioeconomic status (SES) of students. These findings give little comfort to educators in economically disadvantaged schools who are facing heavy pressure to improve performance and close the gap between minority and white students. Yet Verstegen and King (1998) claim that a growing body of research is using better databases and more sophisticated methodological strategies to provide evidence that school policies can make a positive difference in student outcomes. They also emphasize that resource patterns that optimize performance in one setting do not necessary work in others. Encouraged by this line of thinking, the researcher will investigate factors that may explain the differences in performances in schools that share a common socioeconomic context. Are there choices made by policymakers and administrators in economically disadvantaged schools that spark significant improvements in performance in these schools? In this study, the researcher will assume the significance of SES or â€Å"input† factors in explaining achievement, and the researcher considers the impact of other factors over which schools have some control. Impact of Process Variables Although the statistical models will include measures for SES (percent of economically disadvantaged students and percent white students), the focus will be on process variables. The latter include those variables that school systems more or less control. The researcher categorizes these variables into three general areas: 1) school class size 2) school policies and 3) proven effective programs to increase student reading proficiency. One of the most controversial characteristics of schools is the amount of students per teacher (FTE). Production function research on the effects of school size has been inconclusive, and both sides have their advocates. Supporters of small schools contend that students get more attention, school governance is simpler, and teachers and administrators are more accessible to parents. Noguera (2002) states that in high schools where the majority of low-income students of color are achieving at high levels the one common characteristic is the small size of the schools. Lee and Burkam found that students are less likely to drop out of schools with fewer than 1,500 students (2003). However, others argue that large schools are able to offer students a wider range of educational offerings and services (â€Å"Still Stumped,† 2002). Recent research indicates that the effects of school size may depend on the SES of students. Findings show consistently that the relationship between achievement and socioeconomic status was substantially weaker in smaller schools than larger schools, that is, students from impoverished communities are much more likely to benefit from smaller schools. On the other hand, a positive relationship exists between larger schools and the output measures of affluent students (Lee and Smith, 1996; Howley and Bickel, 1999). Because this study will examine the performance of economically disadvantaged students, the researcher expects to find a negative relationship between school size and achievement scores. That is, the larger the school, the less likely students are to achieve on standardized tests. The relationship between class size and positive student achievement is another relationship that has been closely studied. In 2000, Congress allocated $1. 3 billion for class size reduction as a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (Johnson, 2002). Most of the studies that examine the effect of class size on student performance have focused on primary schools. One of the largest and most scientifically rigorous experiments was the 1985, Tennessee’s Student Achievement Ratio (STAR) study. The STAR project provides compelling evidence that smaller classes can improve student achievement, especially in primary schools, which could have lasting effects (1985). The four year longitudinal study focused on classes in Tennessee and consisted of grades kindergarten through third. Classes of thirteen to seventeen students were compared to classes of twenty-two to twenty-six students; of the total classes, some had just one teacher and some had a teacher and aid. Phase one included over three hundred classes and a total of 6500 students (1985). The result after four years was positive support for the reduction of classroom sizes which proved to have positive effects on student achievement. Some critics have pointed out the limitations of project STAR (Vinson, 2002). A couple of limitations listed in a report by Tony Vinson in 2002 were: 1) limiting sample of certain cultural groups 2) schools volunteered to participate in the study, suggesting they had motivation to use innovative teaching practices. In 1996, Mostellar, a statistician, reported; â€Å"the Tennessee Class Size study demonstrates convincingly that student achievement is better in small K-3 classes and the effect continues later in regular-sized classes (1996). In a follow-up study, Nye, Hedges and Kontantopoulos (1999) found that students of smaller class size continued showing significant advantages over students of regular-sized classes, throughout school, to graduation. These students demonstrated higher grades, took more challenging classes, had better graduation rates and were more likely to go on to college (Vinson, 2002). Wisconsin’s Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (Vinson, 2002), began in the 1996-1997 school year and was expanded in 1998-1999 and again in 2000-2001 (Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction). The objective of the program is to improve student achievement through the implementation of four school improvement strategies: class sizes no more than 15:1 in grades K-3; increased collaboration between schools and their communities; implementation of a rigorous curriculum focusing on academic achievement; and improving professional development and staff evaluation practices. Schools in SAGE have renewable 5-year contracts with the state and get state aid equal to $2,000 for each low-income child in the grades served by the program. During 2005-06 495 schools participated in SAGE (up from 30 when the program began). Just over 93,000 K-3 pupils were served. State funding, which was $4. 5 M in 96-97 will be $98. 6 M in 2006-07. A few districts are also benefiting from a state categorical aid program created in 1999 to help schools pay debt service on the cost of new classrooms built to accommodate SAGE (DPI).

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