Sunday, September 25, 2005

"Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform" by D. Berliner

Partly as a result of Hurricane Katrina, more attention is being accorded to the connections between race/ethnicity, education & poverty. Check out as well my other post today, a piece titled, "As Test Scores Jump, Raleigh Credits Integration by Income."

Below is a pdf link to Arizona State University Professor David Berliner’s widely circulated piece on educational reform. These are all good companion pieces to the previously posted Jonathan Kozol piece on poverty.

Austin didn’t get any rain from Hurricane Rita, by the way, though we experienced strong, cooling breezes. And the 2.5 or more million evacuees from the Houston area are returning home already. East Texas and southeastern Louisiana didn’t fare well at all. Fortunately, at least for now, the death toll appears minimal.



The Education Policy Studies Laboratory (EPSL) would like to call your
attention to: "Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform" by David C.
Berliner published August 2, 2005, by Teachers College Record.

Contact: David C. Berliner (480) 727-7413 (email) or
Alex Molnar (480) 965-1886 (email)

This analysis is about the role of poverty in school reform. Data from a
number of sources are used to make five points. First, that poverty in the
US is greater and of longer duration than in other rich nations. Second,
that poverty, particularly among urban minorities, is associated with
academic performance that is well below international means on a number of
different international assessments. Scores of poor students are also
considerably below the scores achieved by white middle class American
students. Third, that poverty restricts the expression of genetic talent at
the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Among the lowest social classes
environmental factors, particularly family and neighborhood influences, not
genetics, is strongly associated with academic performance. Among middle
class students it is genetic factors, not family and neighborhood factors,
that most influences academic performance. Fourth, compared to middle-class
children, severe medical problems affect impoverished youth. This limits
their school achievement as well as their life chances. Data on the negative
effect of impoverished neighborhoods on the youth who reside there are also
presented. Fifth, and of greatest interest, is that small reductions in
family poverty lead to increases in positive school behavior and better
academic performance. It is argued that poverty places severe limits on what
can be accomplished through school reform efforts, particularly those
associated with the federal No Child Left Behind law. The data presented in
this study suggest that the most powerful policy for improving our nations'
school achievement is a reduction in family and youth poverty.

Find this document on the web at:

David C. Berliner
Regents' Professor
(480) 965-3921

Alex Molnar, Professor and Director
Education Policy Studies Laboratory
(480) 965-1886

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