Tuesday, December 20, 2011
My Idea To Improve Student Academic Achievement In The New York City Public High Schools.
I have gone to many schools this year and watched the different ideas on how to improve student academic achievement. These ideas range from pretesting students with a test before giving them the same test two days later (I call this cheating) to fudging scholarship grades of students who don't even come close to passing the dumbed down entry level Regents and endanger not only the next group of teachers who now have to explain to the Administration why these students who were given undeserved grades in the 70's and 80's aren't passing the harder course the next year but also allows students to believe that they don't need to work hard to graduate high school. Moreover, too many schools use technology as a crutch and not an aid to student learning. Just look at the explosion of "credit recovery programs" that artificially increase the school's graduation rate while having an abysmal "career and college readiness" percentage.
One of the most overriding issues is the lack of student discipline in many of the schools and that must be blamed on the school's Administration. I have seen first-hand when the Administration takes charge how the school tone changes and the academic improvement that results from it. Too many schools allow cellphones, ipods, and thuggish clothes (hip-hop pants with the underwear showing) and students who fail to go to class as an acceptable or tolerated practice. The result is that the school academics eventually fail. However, if you look at the better schools, student discipline is not an issue. Strict enforcement of student discipline is part of the answer to improving student academic achievement.
Just as important in improving student academic achievement is putting teachers and students together in groups, when possible. For example all 136 students have the same core course teachers (English, Math, Science, Social Studies) who meet in their professional period to discuss their students. How is the student progressing? Is the student only acting up in one class or all four? Is the student having personal issues that one teacher knows about and can alert the others? This four teacher group can better work with the student and the parents to bring out the academic potential. In some cases, after freshman year it can be a logistical nightmare. However, if done properly, the student will have a knowledgeable corps of teachers who can readily design a program to improve the student's academic achievement.
For those students that are having academic or behavioral issues that are beyond the capability of the core teachers, they will receive specific counseling services from Guidance, the Social Worker, and other professionals who work with problem students. While my approach is not a solution to an increasingly vexing problem in the New York City High Schools, it is certainly worth a try in my version of "children first".