What Makes for Failing Schools?

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2004 | Go to article overview

What Makes for Failing Schools?


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Much Is written In the literature about failing schools. What makes for failing schools as compared to those labeled as being proficient or excellent? Teachers and administrators In schools need to work in the direction of all schools being worthy. Each pupil need to have the best education possible. The future of a child depends, in part, in having received the best possible schooling.

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The Failing School

Failing schools are generally located in poverty areas. In fact, it might be safe to say that 100% of failing schools are in low income areas where the number of children on free and reduced price lunches rise upward to 75%. The chances are the surrounding home areas of these children is unsafe with periodic gun battles, drug dealing, prostitution, burned out buildings, among other hostile factors. In the educational literature, the following are listed in low income school districts:

1. inadequately prepared teachers for classroom teaching.

2. outdated, unattractive textbooks.

3. lack of being up to date on computer services.

4. poor quality school facilities with broken windows, toilets which do not flush, and minimal janitorial supplies and equipment.

5. principals who tend to lack leadership abilities (Ediger and Rao, 2003, Chapter Twenty).

The amount of money spent on pupils in low income districts inadequately compare with those of higher income areas. And yet, The same yard stick will be used to compare low with high income area schools. Each state in the union has developed their own state mandated test. The level of difficulty in mandated tests from state to state varies much when test results are reported. There are governors in states who believe that low and high income students should do equally well on mandated tests. Good teaching, these governors believe, will help students from low income areas catch up in achievement with those of more favorable regions. Beyond good teaching, the following also are to assist pupils to catch up with the top achievers:

1. summer school

2. tutoring services

3. a longer school day

4. a longer school year

5. one-on-one tutoring during the school day, such as in Reading Recovery.

Since all pupils are to take the same state mandated test, the following questions arise:

1. how will mentally retarded pupils be appraised when state mandated test results come back to the teacher, principal, and school?

2. how will pupils' test results be interpreted from those where English is not spoken at home and the individual is very limited in English language usage?

3. what allowances will be made for handicapped pupils who have impaired vision, deficient eye/hand coordination, and impaired hearing? (Ediger and Rao, 2003, Chapter Fourteen).

The achievement gap between and among the races has been a mystery. There is nothing inherent which would make for one race doing better in academic achievement than the other. There are no genetic factors which would make for differences in achievement. Singham (2003) wrote.

   "No student is ever a blank slate. They
   all come with preconceptions, and a
   teacher needs to learn what the specific
   preconceptions are for a particular topic
   and, instead of ignoring them, know how
   to use these preconceptions to teach
   students more effectively.

   The important point is that all these
   measures are good for all students. The
   worst thing about much of the current
   discussion on how to eliminate the
   achievement gap is that little focuses
   on what should be done with minority
   students. This has the effect of making it
   look as if it is a minority problem.

   Such thinking has many unfortunate
   effects, apart from the facet that the
   discussions of the topic invariably have
   jarring overtones of patronization and
   condescension toward the minority
   community. … 

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