Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Factors that Effect Variances in Student Academic Achievement

The Coleman Report explores many factors that impact student achievement, and the effects of variances within those factors. Through my review of those factors, I classified the factors into two categories: Input factors and Output factors.

The input factors would be factors related to differences that students have as they enter into educational situations. These differences vary from sociology-economic situations, friends, and history of quality teachers. While reading many of these factors, the one that stuck out would be the differences in student experiences over the summer, where students who have experiences that enhance their educational growth tend to experience greater growth during their school experience, while those who lack the experiences tend to have less growth. I contribute this to the enhancement of contextual experiences upon which to apply educational instruction. for example, a student who is unfamiliar with the Taiga biome is at a disadvantage from the student who just vacationed to that part of the world and is already familiar with the flora and fauna of the biome. Good, bad or indifferent, it is a difference that expresses itself and can impact student growth. I feel that this factor can be impacted by educational organizations through the integration of summer learning experiences, similar and including summer school. One school in the St. Louis area (where I have previously worked) provides organized trips to national parks for learning experiences tailored to upcoming student curricular topics that the tea hers can use to build upon the context of the summer learning experience. But to a more mainstream extent, this factor provides evidence to support summer enrichment and experiences for students.

Output factors would be those factors that educational organizations are expected to produce from the students. NCLB provides normative targets that districts are expected to meet, and ties the achievement of meeting those targets to funding, therefore forcing schools to modify their learning experiences to accommodate the testing that provides the indicators. (Sometimes excessively so, take the recent Atlanta situation). However, there are opportunities and trends that account for student input differences, and explore value added models of assessing achievement. This model shows more respect for student, teacher and organization, and focuses on growth of students of various and dynamic input differences.

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