Sunday, September 15, 2019

Elementary education effectiveness in Mississippi Essay

Mississippi consists of four-hundred and eighty-six thousand people living in poverty; ten percent of children belong to families that are not able to meet their needs (2005). Recent statistics show that those living in poverty are fifty-one percent African American and approximately forty-seven percent Caucasian (2005). Research has shown that the socioeconomic status of students influence the degree of success they will experience. (Donahue &Grigg, 2003) Mississippi has varying degrees of reading proficiency among school districts. In the 2003-2004 school year, six districts, consisting of one elementary school, five middle schools and one high school, were identified as â€Å"in need for improvement†, based on the reading and math proficiency of its students. For the purpose of this study, only schools reflecting a lack in reading proficiency will be discussed. The U. S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spelling announced in a November 2005 press release, â€Å"Eighty percent of the fastest-growing jobs require at least some post secondary education. Yet far too many students are leaving high school unprepared for college†. Improved student achievement can provide students better preparation for college, thus closing the achievement gap. Low socioeconomic schools, although improving, are still behind the majority of middle-to-upper class schools in America (Donahue & Grigg, 2003). There are several factors to consider when looking at closing the achievement gap found in low socioeconomic schools. One factor is that â€Å"young, low-income and minority children are more likely to start school without having gained important school readiness skills, such as recognizing letters and counting† (2003). As Donahue and Grigg’s report showed, when students start school already behind others, they are likely to continue such patterns if not addressed early on. Existing studies demonstrate the problems researchers are having addressing literacy issues early on in a students academic career. Researches are trying to find appropriate strategies to combat the achievement gap with many variables which will be discussed further in detail, in the following study. Purpose of the Study The following is a detailed investigation into possible explanations of varying degrees of reading achievement found in Mississippi and what can be done to maintain a higher overall proficiency in reading among Mississippi students, while satisfying the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Many schools have chosen to implement a â€Å"school-wide approach† to closing the achievement gap; however, when dealing with schools consisting primarily of low-income students, there are other factors to consider when choosing a strategy. The proposed study will focus on improving reading skills in high-poverty schools found in Mississippi by comparing different techniques widely used and creating a more targeted strategy for low-income students. When deciding on an appropriate strategy for improving reading comprehension there are a few factors one must consider. The following questions will outline the factors to be researched in this study. Research Questions 1. What impact does social economic status have on the achievement gaps found in the State of Mississippi? 2. What are the contributing factors found in Mississippi schools that are demonstrating low reading scores among economically disadvantaged students? 3. Are there high-poverty schools in Mississippi which demonstrate positive improvements in reading scores? What are the strategies used? 4. How does implementing Theory into Practice (TIP) encourage positive student achievement in disadvantaged schools? Hypothesis To affectively close low socioeconomic achievement gaps in reading, strong emphasis on establishing proficient reading ability should be made in elementary school. Nature of the Study The research conducted in this study will be an investigation of existing literature regarding techniques used in improving reading skills, exemplary schools demonstrating such techniques and finally, a suggested strategy to use when applying research to low socioeconomic schools with low reading proficiency found in Mississippi school districts. Significance of the Study The significance of this study is that by identifying factors contributing to the achievement gap found in low socioeconomic school districts, as well as investigating into existing programs that have had a positive influence on reading performance scores in other high-poverty schools is that, school administrators and policy makers will have a better basis in which to improve upon existing programs and interventions that would be more financially attainable than starting new programs. The high cost of starting new programs such as; creating new assessment strategies, providing more staff and researchers as well as other costly planning and implementing variables, often times are not practical for low-economic schools. While children of today are growing up in a world where data are being revealed at an alarming rate and knowledge is simply a click away, reading plays an increasingly crucial role in society (Topping & Paul, 1999). The ability to read is not only fundamental for understanding and mastery of every school subject students will encounter, but literacy also plays a critical and crucial role in students’ social and economic lives (Snow, Bums, & Griffin, 1998). As a result, no other factor will have a greater impact on the success of students in Mississippi than their ability to read. With such an emphasis placed on the importance of reading achievement, educational leaders must clearly articulate the expectation that all students can become successful readers, while providing the most effective strategies and opportunities for students to succeed in reading and adopt lifelong reading practices. (Okpala, et al. , 2001) Definitions of Terms Action Team for Partnership- This partnership is also known as a School Improvement Team or a School Council. Although the ATP members oversee the school’s partnership program, other teachers, parents, students, administrators, and community members also may lead family and community involvement activities (ATP website). Adequate Yearly Progress- AYP requires that schools hold the same high standards for all their students; regardless of racial or ethnic background, socioeconomic status and English proficiency Core Academic Subjects- These subjects include: English, language arts and reading, arts, civics, government and history, mathematics and science, foreign languages, as well as, economics and geography. Elementary School- a nonprofit institution which includes, public school, day or residential school and elementary charter schools which State law mandated elementary education. Family Literacy Services – The services provided to participants on a voluntary basis that foster a positive change in families. These changes include, providing families with interactive activities between parents and child concerning literacy, teaching parents to take an active role in their children’s education, teaching self-sufficiency by providing parental literacy training, and providing education to children which is age-appropriate and prepares them for school and life experiences. Highly Qualified (in reference to public elementary or secondary school teacher) – A highly qualified teacher will possess a State certification for teaching or holds a license to teach in a particular state due to passing the State exam and is employed in a teaching position after meeting all required testing, training and educational requirements satisfactory to the State, district and school regulations. Mentoring- A responsible elder who provides positive leadership and guidance to a child as a positive role model in that child’s life. A mentor mission is to help a child to one day become a responsible adult. Minority- a group of students which do not demonstrate the majority’s characteristics, such as socioeconomic status, ethnic background or other key characteristics. Other Staff- staff found within an institution such as personnel, guidance counselors, and administration and teachers aides. Limitations In her 2005 press release Secretary Spelling said, â€Å"we all hear a lot of stories about why schools are missing Adequate Yearly Progress, but we don’t hear much about how thousands of other schools are making it and closing the achievement gap†. This study is limited by location; its main concentration being primarily on Mississippi schools, programs and outcomes. The primary research method is investigating existing literature, as such; there is substantial literature on the failures of many schools trying to improve student achievement; however there is very little literature depicting success. One other limitation to consider is that this study focuses on reading proficiency; however; to get the most accurate depiction of a schools success is to consider all core academic subjects.

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