Here is the final I Got Schooled practice #5 – More Time in School
M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) has written a book (I Got Schooled) describing how – and how not – to close the education gap in the U.S. It should be very supportive in the current conversation and climate regarding what’s wrong with – and how to fix – New Mexico education.
For five years through his MNS Foundation, Shyamalan studied what is succeeding in closing the education gap — that depended only on practices inside the classroom itself and that were scalable.
He discovered closing the achievement gap depended on five practices and couldn’t be figured out by examining just any single practice by itself.
These five practices must be implemented together to have any substantive effect:
• Effective teachers – dropping poor; hiring good; why it’s important; how to do it
• Leadership – how it’s important; what it looks like; how to do it
• Feedback – critical: frequency, consistency, teacher/principal usability
• Smaller (high) schools –part of the “system” that turbocharges the other practices
• More time in school – summers matter – children of low income and of color fall behind a month every summer; by the time they reach third grade they are so far behind it’s virtually impossible to catch up
Covered: successful schools, programs, clinical studies, and data and statistics, including: Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), Uncommon Schools, Achievement First/Endeavor, FirstLine schools, North Star Academy, Arthur Ashe, Los Angeles Green Dot Public Schools, and more.
The study also found four popular, expensive practices contribute little to closing the education gap:
• Small classroom sizes
• Master’s programs and Ph.D.’s for the teachers
• Paying teachers like doctors
• Funding the schools at $20,000 per pupil
MORE TIME IN SCHOOL
- More time in school is needed to overcome the deficiencies inherent in low-income, inner-city family environments
- Upper-income families use an average of 2,153 words every hour; middle-income families use 1,251; welfare families use 616
- Average words per year for upper-income are 11.2 million; middle-income families 6.5 million; welfare families 3.2 million words
- By age four that is a gap of some 30 million words
- The number of words a four-year-old can understand and speak relates directly to the number of words they have heard
- By the time poorer kids reach third grade, they are already so far behind it is virtually impossible to catch up
- Early intervention (preschool) with significant hours of exposure closes the gap
- Consistency and good quality here are critical
- Our natural tendencies are to blame failures of others on something flawed inside them, and while attributing our successes to merit and our failures on chance
- American families that tend to obsess about pre-K education are the ones that need it least
- The children who would most benefit from preschools are the least likely to be enrolled in them
- Even then, generally, preschool effects disappear nearly completely by the third year after the program
- Lower-income and African-American kids stay more or less even with upper-income, white suburban classmates – so long as school was in session
- They fell behind a month or more every summer!
- Summer matters far more than any has thought
- Student test scores change powerfully by what happens between June and September
- Lower-income student families cannot compensate for middle- and upper-income families’ ability to continue to enrich their children’s experiences over the summer
- Current standard in most places is 180 days of school a year, each one between six and seven hours long
- Before the Civil War, Philadelphia’s schools were in session more than 250 days a year; New York’s were open all year except for a two-week break in August
- While more classroom hours is a serious part of closing the gap, five hundred additional low-quality hours taught by a teaching staff full of below-average instructors who are neither observed regularly by their principals nor given the quantitative and qualitative feedback they need is a waste
- Keep kids in school longer during the year and you won’t need superheroes to close the gap. Most teachers can do the job just fine
- And this practice is scalable