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The Education Achievement Gap: Minnesota's Embarrassment
The Achievement Gap: Idea Generator
September, 2004

The Education Achievement Gap

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Ideas for:Families

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Provide paid family leave
Why is it that only wealthy and upper middle class parents get to stay home with their young children, and the working poor and the unemployed have to stay at work or be in a job search to receive help?

Research tells us that the brain is 85% developed by age three! If parents can make the choice to work or not during this time, they can usually afford a high quality early care program. For those that have to work and don't meet income guidelines for assistance,let's provide some paid family leave time.

More than FMLA, I'm talking about a paid year to spend with your child. Maybe even two so that a parent can read, spend time,and form a lasting bond with their child. Let's make this a universal Minnesota plan.

Then let's fund universal access to high quality pre-K programs, and transition programs to the K-12 system. It is only after we pay attention to the early years that k-12 has a prayer in "gapless" achievement.

Created on 09/19/06 by Megan Smith of Shakopee, MN

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Parental involvement: Discipline
One area I have seen a major slack in is the amount of discipline the children are receiving either at home or at school. Many students have lost the rightful respect teachers and other adult figures deserve. When I was an elementary student I wouldn't even dream of getting away with some of the things these students pull.

Teachers, however, can't implement discipline plans without the support from the parents at home. We can send these kids to detention for showing apathy to their education all we want, but unless there are some consequences happening at home to make these students realize they are missing out on an important piece of their education, nothing is going to close this gap. Parents need to show they care about their child's education.

Created on 11/29/04 by Kari Hetland of Winona, MN

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No one should care more for a child than the parents!
How can society, schools, or even teachers commit to help solve the problem, if the parents of the students will not? In every child's life, the people that should care most about them, should be their parents and families. Families need to realize that the future is in their children's hands, and that means for now, the future is still in their hands.

Families of children need to do their research. This can be done by seaching the web, talking to other parents, or talking to the teachers.

If the families do not realize that they are problems, they're probably not going to do anything to help solve them. This is where the teachers and schools come in. The parents should know of the problems, but many may not. It is up to the teachers and schools to inform the families of the problems that exist, and give them information to find out more about the problems, and ways to solve it.

The power of solving the problem lies in knowledge of the problem!

Created on 11/28/04 by WSU Education Student of Winona, MN

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3.5 rating
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Redefine parental involvement
Parental involvement is an undeniably effective way to improve achievement for all students. Traditionally, parental involvement is viewed as volunteering in the classroom and attending PTA meetings. Unfortunately, the only parents who are able to do this are those who are literate in English, feel comfortable in the school, and can afford transportation, childcare, and time off work. If we limit our definition of parental involvement in this way, we discourage many parents from becoming involved.

Fortunately, these are not the only ways, nor the most effective ways, that parents can become involved. Parents who communicate the importance of school to their children make a greater impact on achievement than those who volunteer in the school. Parents from all backgrounds can and do communicate high expectations and aspirations for their children’s future. Parents who believe they can make a difference in their children’s education will make a difference in their children’s education.

Created on 11/10/04 by Anna Pletscher of Minneapolis, MN

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Drill into every mind the power of parental involvement as a daily habit
Study after study seems to confirm that students with involved parents, no matter what their income or background, are more likely to:
· Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs
· Be promoted, pass their classes and earn credits
· Attend school regularly
· Have better social skills, show improved behavior and adapt well to school
· Graduate and go on to post-secondary education


Provide evidence (free of charge?) such as books like A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement by Anne T. Henderson and Karen Mapp and "Including Every Parent" was written by a team of teachers and parents from the Patrick O'Hearn Elementary public school, where close to 100% of parents are involved in some way.

Created on 11/02/04 by Miguel Lindgren of Roseville, MN

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3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Ideas about families and closing the gap
• Closing the achievement gap can best happen in collaboration with families rather than blaming families and parents. Education does start at home and parents do have important responsibilities, but most parents of children currently underachieving in schools are themselves products of a system that has failed to educate them. I have known hundreds of parents in my career as a teacher and I have yet to meet one that doesn’t at least say they want their child to get an education.

Created on 10/14/04 by Paul Spies of Minneapolis, MN

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Require parent involvement
The biggest problem isn't so much the kids as it is the kid's parents non-involvement. What was the school district in New York that required the parents to come in just to get the report cards? Truancy dropped and test scores rose.

As a teacher, I see a lot of the worst problems stemming from the most apathetic parents. Too bad for the kids we can't issue them new parents, yet the answer still could be that the parents would be required to spend some time in the school for a detention with their child(ren) where they are meeting with the teachers to find out what the child needs to be accomplishing to become successful.

Unfortunately, you can't legislate interest in their own children anymore than you can legislate they learn to be moral, upright, law-abiding, and community-building citizens. The crux is not in the fix by the system; this is an individual choice that far too many parents slough off onto system due to their fears, incompetence, apathy, or own neglected life.

Created on 10/12/04 by Thomas Walt of Hastings, MN

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4.5 rating
(8 votes)
Teach the parents
The achievement gap is multi-generational and therefore requires a multi-generational fix. We need to TEACH THE PARENTS about the importance of reading to their babies, providing educational toys, and choosing TV shows like Sesame Street.

These steps, taken for granted in homes where the parents are educated, will make more difference than any Head Start type of program. By helping parents help children we make them partners in their children's success. When we take kids out of the home for classes, we take parents out of the equation -- and that's not right.

We also need to keep children in one school -- changing schools is a tremendous detriment to stability and learning. We need to provide transportation to allow children to stay in the same school even if the family moves across town. This will allow parents, students and teachers to get know each other and work together.

Created on 10/12/04 by Cathy Lombard of Minneapolis, MN

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Cognitive Skills Course-Problem Solving and Social Skills
In an age of single-parent households and even no-parent households, it is more important than ever to empower our children with the needed problem-solving skills and social skills that are lacking in today's society.

Most of us think of social studies as learning and then regurgitating the information on command. Why not teach parents these problem-solving and social skills so they in turn can pass this knowledge on to their children so children have the tools they need to effectively communicate their needs and solve today's problems. Learning starts at home.

Created on 10/11/04 by Mat Olson of Duluth, MN

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4 rating
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Focus on parental responsibilities
Emphasize the responsibilities of parents in educating their children -- for example:

- Language development starts with children being spoken to, and engaged in conversation, with clear pronunciation and proper grammar being used, as this provides the model the child will follow.
- It continues with children being read to, and later encouraged to read well-written books on their own.
- All the essentials of polite behavior should be taught and regularly reinforced; time a teacher spends getting students to behave is time not spent teaching.
- If the educational preparation of the parents is lacking, there should be classes to remedy that, and parents should take advantage of those classes for their childrens sake as well as their own - again, providing a role model for their children.

Teachers can only do so much alone. If a person can't provide the foundation for them to work from, he/she shouldn't have children until he or she can do so.

Created on 10/05/04 by Philip Woutat of St. Louis Park, MN

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