Today: Achievement gap a focus at board meeting

The achievement gap -- the difference in academic performance between students with socio-economic advantages and students without them -- comes up for an extended discussion by the board of the Sequoia Union High School District on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The board meets at 5:30 p.m. in the district office at 480 James Ave. in Redwood City.

A Sequoia board retreat in January produced four priorities: address the achievement gap, enhance teacher effectiveness, systematically examine career technical education (CTE) courses, and re-examine the district's resources as they relate to these priorities.

A staff report notes board member Chris Thomsen proposing seven "essential questions" to be considered in Wednesday's achievement-gap discussion and for the board going forward. Among them:

■ What activities are specifically meant to address the gap? Which have met with the most success?

■ What are the best achievement-gap-reducing practices out there? What does the research show?

■ What are the goals for the board as apart from teachers and staff?

Another question on the agenda: Does the board feel a need to have such sets of essential questions for the district's other three priorities?


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Posted by Boardermom
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

A great and eye opening book for anyone interested in learning more about the achievement gap is called Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele. Steele did research at both the University of Chicago and Stanford University before landing at Harvard. Based on his studies at Stanford, testing students of color and white students with identical SAT scores, he discovered that students tend to perform according the cultural stereotypes they carry in their heads. When given a math test, the students of color did worse than the white males. When tested on their athletic abilities, the white males did worse than their african american peers. Steele writes that he believes putting a lot of emphasis on STAR and benchmark testing has exactly the opposite effect of what schools seek to achieve. Rather than raising scores, it lowers them. You can find his book in any independent book store or online.

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Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Feb 16, 2012 at 9:24 am

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

The Sequoia board did not intend to discuss in extended detail the achievement gap, but the questions for staff to monitor when presenting issues related to the achievement gap to the board.

The Almanac regrets this misinterpretation of the board's agenda.

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