USA: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : NPR

Good analysis, showing ongoing stratification in post-secondary education and an interesting nuance of the Asian American ‘myth of being a model minority’:

Today, more Americans graduate high school and go on to college than ever before. But as the country becomes more diverse — the Census Bureau expects that by 2020 more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group— are colleges and universities ready to serve them?

“If you look at the past 50, almost 60 years, you see we have made a lot of progress as a country in terms of high school seniors deciding to go to college in the 1.5 years after graduating,” says Andrew Nichols, director of higher education research and data analytics at the Education Trust, a nonprofit. “And that isn’t just white students. It’s also for black and Latinos. You’re seeing that increase for everybody.”

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2015, 88 percent of seniors – nearly 3 million students – graduated high school. By the following October, 69 percent of them – or more than 2 million people – were enrolled in college.

But where are they attending? And do they graduate?

The same is true for Asian Americans, says Robert Teranishi, a professor of education at UCLA and the director of the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE). The largest concentration of Asian-American students – about half – attends community colleges, he says. It’s also where enrollment of Asian Americans is increasing the fastest.

But because community colleges have low six-year graduation rates (39 percent according to a report by the American Association of Community Colleges), this means that few of those students will actually earn degrees. “The problem is there’s not a lot of expansion in higher education,” Teranishi says. As a result, some students end up in subpar schools where they may never earn a degree. “A lot of students are relegated to two-years or they’re ending up in four-year institutions that are not doing a good job at helping students succeed and earn a degree,” he says. “They’re being set up in a bad situation.”

Meanwhile, the nation’s selective institutions — the Ivy Leagues and flagship public universities — are becoming even more selective, and remaining mostly white. According to the 2013 report “Separate & Unequal” from the Georgetown Center for Higher Education and the Workforce, since 1995, 80 percent of America’s white college students have enrolled in the country’s 468 most well-funded, selective four-year colleges and universities. These schools spend two to nearly five times as much per student as do the 3,250 less resourced, open-access colleges (which do not require applications) where students of color are concentrated.

The study also found that while inequalities of race and class overlap quite a bit, race has a distinctive negative effect. Even after controlling for academic achievement in high school, black and Latino students attend selective institutions at far lower rates and drop out of college more often.

As a result, whites have higher graduation rates and are more likely to attain advanced degrees and higher future earnings, even among equally qualified students. Anthony Carnevale, the director of the center and one of the authors of the report, told NPR in 2013 that, “We found … that while more and more minorities are going on to college, that the system itself was becoming even more unequal. That is, we were getting more and more access, and access was bringing more and more inequality, and the inequality mattered.”

For Asian Americans, a false perception persists that they’re universally high achieving. Teranishi says that they’re treated as a homogenous group even though there are many ethnic subgroups, and that there’s not enough data tracking subgroups. A 2011 report by CARE found that up to two-third of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States don’t have any form of post-secondary education and that for the ones who do enter college, half drop out.

“They’re generally overlooked and underserved when it comes to college opportunity programs, college access, or even student services or programs on campus,” Teranishi says. “And really, it’s rooted in this model-minority myth. There’s not a lot of understanding about their actual experiences or outcomes.”

Teranishi finds it disconcerting that Asian Americans are used as a wedge group against other people of color and says these claims of discrimination have scant evidence. “It’s not like Harvard can admit every student who is in the top of their class with a 4.0 GPA or who has a perfect SAT. That outnumbers the number of students Harvard admits each year. There’s a lot more criteria involved in the selection process,” he says.

“The other thing that concerns me is that this narrative … removes Asian Americans from the broader discourse about the importance of diversity and equity in higher education. So that’s concerning because Asian Americans, like other students, they benefit from being exposed to students of other racial backgrounds.”

Several studies have shown that diverse student bodies benefit students of all races by improving intellectual engagement, citizenship, and cognitive skills. The positive effects stay with them even after they graduate college.

Source: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : Code Switch : NPR

Korea: ‘Teachers need multicultural education’

Numbers still small: 100,000 compared to over 9 million but likely concentrated in cities:

Korea’s multicultural population continues to grow, but the government has yet to establish a law that requires teachers to receive training to better address a racially diverse classroom.

In 2010, a multicultural education class was introduced in the university curriculum for students aspiring to become teachers, but under the current system it is not compulsory.

Mo Kyung-hwan, president of the Korean Association for Multicultural Education (KAME) and professor at Seoul National University (SNU)’s Department of Social Studies Education, teaches this class, but only seven students are taking it this semester.

“If only seven students signed up for a class taught by a part-time instructor, it would be canceled. As dean of the department of social studies education, I was not required to teach the class, but decided to as students need to learn about multiculturalism,” Mo told The Korea Times in an interview at SNU, Tuesday.

Classes on school violence and special education are mandatory, but those on multiculturalism are not.

Classes teaching multicultural education were initiated at universities and departments of education with government funding, but the education ministry has cut subsidies and many schools no longer offer the classes.

Teachers who attended university before the classes were introduced in the curriculum have even less opportunities.

Since 2008, the Seoul and Gyeonggi offices of education started offering classes on multiculturalism for teachers. However, they are limited to 15 hours a year, which is far from enough, Mo said.

“The number of Korean students is shrinking, but that of multicultural students is growing. Students’ receptivity of multiculturalism has improved, but multicultural students still face prejudice and bullying at school,” he said, pointing to the need for teacher training to be made mandatory under the new Moon Jae-in administration.

Data from Statistics Korea shows the number of school aged children stood at 9.38 million in 2016, a 10.4 percent decrease from 10.5 million in 2010.

In contrast, the number of school-aged multicultural children stood at 99,186 in 2016, more than a 200 percent increase from 31,788 in 2010.

Multicultural children, who accounted for 0.44 percent of the student population in 2010, now accounted for 1.68 percent in 2016.

Korea’s efforts to embrace multiculturalism

Korea was mostly homogeneous up until the 1980s, but it saw an influx of immigrant workers in the 1990s and immigrant brides in the 2000s. Due to the growing population of immigrants and their children, the government drew up its first policy to support them in 2006.

In line with the policy, the education ministry revised the school curriculum so that textbooks would help students enhance their receptivity of multiculturalism.

In the meantime, schools aid multicultural children in learning Korean and building their academic skills, and assist them in planning their careers.

“Multicultural education has grown tremendously both in quantity and quality in the past decade,” Mo said.

“In the next decade, as the multicultural population grows further, their countries of origin, reasons for immigration, socio-economic status and Korean language abilities will be diversified _ and education for these students will be specialized to accommodate their needs.”

Learning from immigrant nations

Countries such as the U.S. or Canada, which began as immigrant nations, have far more advanced policies for immigrants.

“What we can learn from these countries is the premise they had of immigrant policies _ that they were not merely welfare for minorities but for the nation as a whole,” Mo said.

This is because immigrants contribute to the economy with the labor they provide, and with the taxes they pay. Young immigrants and their children can also provide a solution to countries with low birth rates, he said.

“When neglecting them, they could pose instability to the nation, but providing them support will lead to social integration,” Mo said.

He added these countries regarded policies for immigrants as important as defense, economic or labor policies.

“In the long-term, Korea will need a government body solely dedicated to immigrant affairs,” he said.

Source: ‘Teachers need multicultural education’

Ontario school board tosses Shakespeare for indigenous writers

The headline is written for attention, the story captures the thoughtful considerations behind the change and how it fits in with the curriculum in other grades, where they do have exposure to Shakespeare and others:

When parents in Ontario’s Lambton Kent District School Board learned the mandatory Grade 11 English course was being replaced with an indigenous literature course, their responses often invoked that 500-year-old icon whose shadow still falls over all English writing.

“So my kid doesn’t have to study Shakespeare?” was the common reply, said superintendent of education Mark Sherman.

As of this September, for those in Grade 11 at least, the answer is no. Instead, they will be reading and studying novels such as Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, Medicine River by Thomas King, My Name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling, or As Long as the Rivers Flow by former Ontario Lieutenant-Governor James Bartleman.

This indigenous turn of a high school curriculum is an abrupt departure from the Canadian high school standard of mainly studying literature from the two great cultures against which Canadian-ness is traditionally triangulated — Britain and America.

“Hey, I love Lord of the Flies. I love Shakespeare,” Sherman said. “But really, we’re talking about 15th century Veronese landlords (Romeo and Juliet) or something like that. Does that resonate with Canadian kids? Or the British schoolboy class structure?”

Modern plays in the high school rotation are likewise dominated by New York playwrights like Arthur Miller, to the exclusion of indigenous Canadians like Tomson Highway.

Students will still have the chance to study The Catcher in the Rye and King Lear, for example, in the other four compulsory English courses over their time in high school. “This is just taking a part of it and trying to make it more relevant to the modern Canadian student,” Sherman said.

Until now, the board has offered optional native studies courses in Grade 11, focused on history and culture more than literature. Some schools have also occasionally run native-focused Grade 11 literature courses, including several pilot programs designed to test this new curriculum shift. When it comes into effect in September, it will make an indigenous literature course a constant part of every student’s education.

“It has all the same curriculum expectations as any senior English course would have,” Sherman said. It involves writing, reading, presentation, dialogue, construction of arguments, topic choice, all set up in a way that recognizes and respects the sophistication of the curious teenage mind.

He pointed out two current failings of the traditional Shakespeare and Salinger approach in his board, which serves four First Nations communities as well as the regions of Sarnia and Chatham-Kent. Not only do indigenous students not see their culture reflected in their curriculum, and become disengaged as a result, but non-indigenous students are not made to engage scholastically with First Nations until late in the educational game. As a result, they can lack an important Canadian perspective.

“We should start building perspective earlier,” Sherman said. “In a senior level English course, they have a very high level of moral reasoning and dialogue.”

There is also a financial incentive, in that the board gets more funding for offering courses on indigenous topics, money that Sherman said has been used for professional development for teachers, many of whom are not indigenous themselves, and to hire a special projects teacher for indigenous studies.

As he describes it, parents and students could not be happier.

“It’s really taken off,” Sherman said. “Normally with any big change you expect some discontent. There has been negligible negative feedback. I think today’s students, they see things in the media, they want to know more about it, so now it’s just part of the natural course to say ‘Hey, we have some brilliant indigenous writers out there. This was created in Canada. This wasn’t written 100 years ago in Leeds.’”

Source: Ontario school board tosses Shakespeare for indigenous writers | National Post

Having Just One Black Teacher Can Keep Black Kids In School : NPR

Interesting and, I think, significant:

How important is it to have a role model?

A new working paper puts some numbers to that question.

Having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced low-income black boys’ probability of dropping out of high school by 39 percent, the study found.

And by high school, African-American students, both boys and girls, who had one African-American teacher had much stronger expectations of going to college. Keep in mind, this effect was observed seven to ten years after the experience of having just one black teacher.

The study is big. The authors, Seth Gershenson and Constance A. Lindsay of American University, Cassandra M.D. Hart of U.C. Davis and Nicholas Papageorge at Johns Hopkins, looked at long-term records for more than 100,000 black elementary school students in North Carolina.

Then the researchers checked their conclusions by looking at students in a second state, Tennessee, who were randomly assigned to certain classes.

There they found that not only did the black students assigned to black teachers graduate high school at higher rates, they also were more likely to take a college entrance exam. “The results line up strikingly well,” says Papageorge.

And this isn’t news to many African-American families who already feel strongly that their children need role models in their education. Khalilah Harris has experienced the issue both as a policymaker and as a mother of three daughters. She was the Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans under the Obama administration. She recently transferred her two older daughters, 12 and 14, to a progressive private school to expose them to more diverse teachers and curriculum.

“My youngest, who is 7, goes to supposedly the best public school in Baltimore City, but there is not any teacher of color there, and that is deplorable,” she says. “If you grow up in a world that does not reflect your essence as valuable from birth, the fact that you don’t have a teacher … who looks like you, will cause cognitive dissonance.”

Papageorge says the “role model effect” that Harris describes is quantifiable. “Sometimes when I talk about expectations, people think I’m talking about magic fairy dust,” he says, “but in economics, it’s one of the biggest things that determine the kinds of investments people make.” In other words, whether it’s money you put toward a mutual fund, or time and energy you spend on your education, how much you expect to get out can determine how much you put in.

If a low-income black boy never sees anyone in the classroom who looks like him, Papageorge says he might conclude, “‘Hey, college is just not for me’. And then why would you work hard in school?”

Yolanda Coles Jones of Charlottesville, Va., says she and her husband avoided the school system altogether. They homeschool their four children, two girls who are 9 and 7, and 4-year-old twin boys. She says they didn’t see their local public or private schools “understanding the needed emphasis on black children seeing black faces.” The family is part of a homeschooling co-op called Community Roots, that, Coles Jones says, was founded “to have an atmosphere that is safe for children of color to be in.”

In future research, Papageorge hopes to replicate the study and unpack the powerful and long-lasting effects observed. But based on the evidence he already has, he has an immediate policy recommendation. Having just one black teacher in his study made all the difference to students; having two or three didn’t increase the effect significantly. Therefore, schools could work to change student groupings so that every black student gets at least one black teacher by the end of elementary school.

“Should we hire more black teachers?” he asks. “Yeah, probably, but it requires more black college graduates … We could push around rosters tomorrow, change the way we assign kids, and have some effects next school year, not 10 years from now.”

Source: Having Just One Black Teacher Can Keep Black Kids In School : NPR Ed : NPR

BC Asia-Pacific curriculum aims to bring international perspective to high schools

Good initiative and will be interesting to see how it develops and how it deals with more controversial historical issues in the region:

B.C. schools will be the first in Canada to get Asia-related curriculum material to teach in history and socials classes through a new program that may eventually be rolled out nationwide.

The Asia-Pacific Curriculum, a $500,000 pilot program funded by the Asia Pacific Foundation and the province, launched Thursday with a website that contains teaching material to be incorporated into classes for Grades 6 through 12.

The program will also provide workshops for educators to help them teach children more effectively about understanding cultures and issues in various countries across the Pacific.

“There is very little that’s more important to the future well-being of British Columbians over the next 10 to 20 years than our people’s ability to deal with Asia,” said Asia Pacific Foundation chairman David Emerson. “You can see from recent and historic events that our relationship with the United States will always be very important, but it’s volatile. And when you think long-term, inter-generational benefits and the need for B.C. to economically diversify, there’s no market that’s going to be more important than the Asian market.”

Currently, the website features profiles on South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and India, as well as two key topics — China’s one-child policy and a history of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The topics were chosen after consultation with the B.C. Social Studies Teachers Association, said Eva Busza, vice-president of research and programs at the Asia Pacific Foundation.

Busza noted that teachers want topics with a link to current events — China’s one-child policy was recently loosened after decades of strict enforcement, while the Khmer Rouge issue highlights how to deal with reconciliation, a topical point of discussion for Canadians.

Engaging teachers on what to include in the curriculum is crucial, she added, because the program is voluntary.

“Teachers have indicated to us that they want this information, and that they see this as a gap (in the current curriculum),” Busza said. “We wanted to make sure they own this work, so we’ll be doing a lot of work with the teachers in the summer, before these modules are launched in the classroom, so that their comfort level with the material is high.”

Future topics will include a history of the ongoing territorial disputes over certain islands in Northeast Asia, as well as recent controversies around South Korean textbooks. Program officials said they hope to extend the program beyond high school, and across Canada.

Brenda Ball, senior school director at North Vancouver’s Brockton School and a social studies teacher, noted that there had been a gap in Asia-Pacific studies in B.C.’s high school curriculum, but much of that has been addressed with the new provincial curriculum being implemented now.

The key for the success of the new program, Ball said, is accessibility for the teachers who want it.

“I grew up in an era where I was being taught history that was predominantly Euro-centric, and some of the publications used are still fairly Euro-centric. The only way we can make that change is if we have access to the new material.

“I think the more material, the better. And having access to free material is always welcomed by teachers, because money isn’t always endlessly available.”

Surrey Muslim School principal (and former social studies teacher) Ebrahim Bawa said his school has already begun adopting portions of the material appropriate for younger students at the K-7 institution. He urged organizers to expand the program to elementary schools as early as possible.

“If you can adapt it down to the elementary level, it is something that — especially in the Lower Mainland — a lot of kids will be able to relate to, because of the large Asia-Pacific population,” Bawa said. “If the program is marked well — if you notify the individual school principals, because they will be the ones setting the direction for the schools — this would have a higher uptake than if you leave it to individual teachers.”

Source: BC Asia-Pacific curriculum aims to bring international perspective to high schools | Vancouver Sun

ICYMI: Les allophones fréquentent les écoles francophones au Québec: From 15 percent in 1971 to 89 percent

A dramatic shift:

La très grande majorité des élèves dont la langue maternelle est autre que le français ou l’anglais fréquentent les écoles francophones au Québec: au primaire et au secondaire, ils sont passés de 15 à 89 % entre 1971 et 2015, rapporte l’Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).

«Une progression très marquée», soit six fois plus d’élèves, note l’Office, qui a publié deux rapports vendredi, soit un sur l’enseignement collégial et un autre sur les établissements préscolaires, primaires et secondaires.

L’OQLF relève aussi une hausse importante de près de 20 points de pourcentage depuis 1976 du nombre d’anglophones qui fréquentent l’école en français, cette proportion atteignant même 28 % en 2015.

D’ailleurs, cette année-là, la très grande majorité des élèves du Québec – toutes langues maternelles confondues – apprenaient leur alphabet à l’école en français, soit 90 % de ceux du préscolaire, primaire et secondaire.

Mais cette fréquentation accrue de l’école française n’est pas toujours un choix: ces chiffres s’expliquent en partie par l’adoption par le gouvernement du Québec en 1977 de la Charte de la langue française qui oblige certaines catégories d’enfants à fréquenter l’école en français au primaire et au secondaire. Au niveau collégial toutefois, ils ont la liberté de choisir.

«C’est sûr que le fait que la Charte a été adoptée, et les nouvelles normes pour l’inscription à l’école de la langue française, cela peut être un des facteurs qui a joué», a souligné en entrevue le porte-parole de l’OQLF, Jean-Pierre Le Blanc.

Il est ainsi à noter qu’entre 1986 et 2015, la proportion d’élèves admissibles à l’école anglaise a chuté chez les anglophones et les allophones, respectivement de 12 et de 26 %.

Chez ceux ayant une langue maternelle tierce, la plus grande portion de la hausse de fréquentation de l’école en français est survenue dans les années suivant l’adoption de la Charte, entre 1976 et 1991, est-il noté dans le rapport.

Source: Les allophones fréquentent les écoles francophones au Québec | Stéphanie Marin | Éducation

Why Immigrants Do Better At Science And Math : NPR

Intuitively makes sense but nice to have more evidence that it is so:

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das just won the top high school science prize in the country. Das, who lives in Oradell, N.J., took home $250,000 from the former Intel Science Talent Search, now the Regeneron Science Talent Search, for her study of brain injuries and neuron damage. In her spare time, she’s already working with patients as a certified EMT.

As the Times of India pointed out, Das was one of five Indian Americans among the competition’s top ten finishers. In last year’s contest, according to one study, more than 80 percent of finalists were the children of immigrants.

What is it that spurs so many recent arrivals to the United States to excel in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM disciplines? Some invoke cultural stereotypes, like that of the “Tiger Mother,” for an explanation.

Not Marcos Rangel. For a new study published in the journal Demography, Rangel, an economist at Duke University, and his co-author, Marigee Bacolod of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, looked at U.S. Census data for young adults who arrived in the United States before age 18. The data covers in detail the relative skills required for different occupations, such as physical strength, communication skills, social skills, math and reasoning. For those who went to college, they were also able to see what major they chose.

“If it were just as easy for me to write with my left hand as with my right, I would be using both. But no, I specialize,” Rangel says. In the same way, academically motivated students who have to play catch-up in English class may prefer to zoom ahead in the universal language of mathematics.

(By the way, Das, not a late arrival, is a former spelling bee champion as well as a science whiz.)

Rangel, who came here from Brazil as a young father, has seen this dynamic play out in his own family. “The younger one, who went to Pre-K in English, is different from my kid who came at five already reading Portuguese,” he says. The older one is more inclined toward math.

To be clear, Rangel doesn’t discount the notion that cultural values may also influence immigrants’ career choices. But he is out to tell a more nuanced story — “a movie, not just a photograph,” he says — of how people develop different skills and talents.

Source: Why Immigrants Do Better At Science And Math : NPR Ed : NPR

Les ultraorthodoxes font leurs devoirs

Slow process getting to this point but the change appears to be accepted and in some cases, welcomed within the community:

Las de devoir se battre avec Québec chaque année pour le renouvellement de leur permis, plusieurs écoles juives ultraorthodoxes se sont finalement résolues à faire accréditer leurs professeurs qui enseignaient jusqu’alors sans brevet. Une première vague de professeurs s’apprêtent à obtenir leur diplôme du programme de formation des maîtres de l’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick. Une expérience qui porte des fruits, comme a pu le constater Le Devoir.

« C’est un petit miracle, résume le directeur général du Centre Bronfman de l’éducation juive, Shimshon Hamerman, en entrevue au DevoirTraditionnellement, les communautés ultraorthodoxes ne suivent pas les études laïques […]. Mais les conseils d’administration des écoles ont compris qu’ils ne pourraient pas avoir de permis — et certainement pas un permis à long terme — si leurs professeurs n’avaient pas le brevet. Ils voulaient vraiment respecter la loi. »

Par l’entremise du Centre Bronfman, les directeurs d’écoles des communautés juives ultraorthodoxes ont contacté différentes universités québécoises. Mais selon leurs dires, il était difficile d’obtenir la flexibilité requise pour ce projet, car les élèves travaillent déjà comme professeurs à temps plein dans les différentes écoles associées à leur communauté religieuse.

Shashana R., Sarah Klein et Chana Biegeleisen suivent une formation de l’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick pour obtenir leur brevet en enseignement.

Ils se sont donc tournés vers l’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick, qui offre un programme de baccalauréat en enseignement adapté aux horaires des participants. Depuis quatre ans, une fin de semaine par mois, un professeur est dépêché à Montréal pour offrir une formation intensive. Des périodes d’enseignement sont aussi prévues pendant les vacances estivales et autres congés scolaires. Les soirs et les fins de semaine, les étudiants bénéficient de formations en ligne. Ils devraient obtenir leur diplôme en juin prochain.

« Ça coûte beaucoup plus cher que s’ils étudiaient dans une université locale, mais c’est la preuve de leur engagement à vouloir se conformer aux exigences ministérielles, plaide M. Hamerman. Les professeurs payent de leur poche pour obtenir cette formation qui leur donne accès au brevet d’enseignement de Québec en vertu d’une entente de reconnaissance mutuelle entre les gouvernements du Québec et du Nouveau-Brunswick. »

Former les professeurs

Dans un petit local surchauffé du Centre des enseignants de la Torah Umesorah, sur l’avenue du Parc, une trentaine d’élèves tentent de répondre à la leçon du jour : « Quel est le rôle de l’éducation ? » Les femmes, majoritaires, sont assises à l’avant. Certaines bercent leurs nouveau-nés tout en prenant des notes. « Elle peut rester tant qu’elle n’est pas tannante », blague la maman d’un poupon de neuf semaines. Les hommes restent en retrait derrière une bibliothèque qui fait office de paravent virtuel.

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le DevoirUne classe d’élèves au travail

« Les parents sont de plus en plus exigeants quant à l’éducation laïque que reçoivent leurs enfants, alors il faut que je sois à la hauteur de leurs attentes », explique en entrevue Avrohom Biegeleisen, qui enseigne depuis 12 ans à la Yeshiva Gedola. Sa femme, Chana, professeure et mère de 10 enfants, suit également la formation. « Ça m’aide beaucoup, notamment dans la façon d’organiser mes cours. »

Professeure à l’école des filles de la communauté Skyer, Perel Brewer affirme que cela demande beaucoup d’efforts, mais que ça en vaut la peine : « Ce qui est génial, c’est que je n’ai pas besoin d’attendre quatre ans pour mettre en application les enseignements. Ce que j’apprends ici aujourd’hui, je peux l’appliquer dès demain dans ma classe. »

Sarah Klein, qui enseigne également à la Yeshiva Gedola, ne s’en cache pas : elle est une « meilleure professeure » depuis qu’elle suit le programme de formation des maîtres. Elle bénéficie d’une « tolérance » du ministère de l’Éducation, mais elle sait que son brevet va faire une « grande différence » aux yeux de Québec. La jeune femme s’y connaît en matière d’exigences gouvernementales. Le matin, elle enseigne aux enfants de la maternelle et l’après-midi, elle travaille à des tâches cléricales, qui consistent en grande partie à remplir des formulaires pour le gouvernement en vue du renouvellement du permis.

Source: Les ultraorthodoxes font leurs devoirs | Le Devoir

Helping Immigrant Students Catch Up, Fast — It Takes A Whole School : NPR

US example of how schools facilitate the integration process:

For many immigrant students, the trauma of crossing the border follows them into the classroom — affecting their performance and ability to learn. And that’s where Michelle’s school comes in.

At Langley Park, in Prince George’s County, Md., 87 percent of students are Spanish-speaking. Out of 176 students, 24 countries are represented and 15 languages are spoken at home, not including English.

The school started last fall. So far, the school sits in temporary buildings, but the kids don’t mind it too much — unless it’s raining.
Her school is part of a larger network across the country called Internationals Network For Public Schools. It serves English language learners, or ELLs, and recent immigrants.

For students like Michelle, the problem is two-fold: Not only are they dealing with trauma, but they also belong to one of the most marginalized student populations.

According to a recent Stanford study, the achievement gap between ELL-Hispanic and white students is the largest in the context of race and ethnicity. And, the average high school graduation rate of ELLs is 19 percentage points lower than the national rate, 63 percent compared to 82.

In 1985, the network opened its first school to address that long-standing disparity. Since then, it has grown to 27 schools in seven states, including Washington, D.C.

And, it seems to be working. Last year, ELLs who attended the network’s high schools in New York City graduated at a rate 16 percentage points higher than ELL students in the city’s public schools, the nation’s largest school district.

As for Langley Park, it hasn’t had a graduating class, yet — it opened last fall — but results so far look promising. In the first class of students, 98 percent showed improvement in their English language skills.

Two talented young artists — Stefany Novoa (left), 16, and Frishta Wassl, 14 — work on self-portraits in Christine Wilkin’s art class.

LA Johnson/NPR

How does the network do it when so many other schools struggle to educate ELLs? It seems to boil down to three simple things:

Every teacher is a language teacher. Tammy Tatro, who teaches technology, says implementing English-language instruction into her class curriculum is “really hard.” But she does it by repeating herself and using visual aids to get concepts across to students.

Second, one of the network’s vital principles is collaboration. That’s why the classes are a mix of students with varying English language skills.

“They all want to lift each other up,” Tatro says. “When one fails, especially if they’re working on a team project, then they all kind of fail. So, they have to help each other.”

A third key principle, Principal Carlos Beato says: the school’s partnerships.

Christine Gilliard, a phys ed teacher, used to teach at a large high school where she had “a two-story gym and two storage closets.” Now she teaches out of a trailer-sized temporary building. “We may not have the best of everything, but we have each other,” she says.

LA Johnson/NPR

CASA de Maryland, a Latino advocacy organization, is one of Langley Park’s partners. The organization offers legal advice for students and their families. Students can also take a social justice class from CASA to learn about advocacy and their rights, depending on their immigration status.

Partnerships like this are crucial, given the extra challenges many of these students face — homelessness, separation from their parents and, of course, the language barrier. Without tending to all of their social and emotional needs, Beato explains, “we wouldn’t be getting any of the academics done.”

Most of the network’s schools employ a full-time social worker. At Langley Park, that’s Lesly Lemus. Her job is to support students any way she can as they cope with life outside school, whether it’s connecting them to community resources or just listening.

Source: Helping Immigrant Students Catch Up, Fast — It Takes A Whole School : NPR Ed : NPR

Schools are teaching values. But whose values?

Interesting trend in education and assessment, and how to measure “character:”

To formally assess children’s characters, schools between Ontario and British Columbia have begun distributing a questionnaire created by psychologist Wayne Hammond. “We’ve proven that the tool is statistically predictable,” says Hammond, owner of a Calgary-based human resources consulting firm called Meritcore. “I can tell you where your character’s at.”

The questionnaire, called the Resiliency Assessment Survey, contains 62 to 82 questions, depending on a school’s preference. Students rank how strongly they agree or disagree with statements similar to “I try to avoid unsafe things” or “I feel hopeful about my future.” The tool creates profiles of each student’s top strengths and weaknesses, such as acceptance, restraint or safety. The results belong to each school board and are used to identify at-risk students and trends within schools. “It starts to give them a round-up,” says Hammond. “Who needs resources? Who needs stretching?”

Alternative measures include the Character Growth Card, invented by American Angela Duckworth, a pioneer of the character movement. Duckworth argues that character, specifically “grit,” is the key determinant of student success. Her hard-copy questionnaire gauges attributes such as gratitude, self-control and zest (defined as approaching life with enthusiasm) by asking students and teachers to rank how often they’ve done things like “kept their temper in check” and “stuck with a project for more than a few weeks.”

A third tool comes from psychologist Mark Liston at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His online multiple-choice survey measures 11 character strengths in as many minutes, giving students and teachers percentage scores on attributes such as wisdom, empathy and “love/closeness” (one school in Denver had to remove the questions on spirituality because it feared a lawsuit from parents). The results compare each person to “national averages” derived from 1,000 Americans. Schools pay up to $500 per student to take the survey.

A “character portfolio” is another concept of Liston’s. It presents a student’s character scores through Grades 4 to 12, paired with extracurricular and community service hours, journal entries and mentor reports, decorated with personal statements and pull quotes. Liston plans to sell a portfolio program to schools and parents, for students to use in university applications. “When kids start seeing this will help them get into a better college, they’ll start to use it,” he says. “In the past, it’s pretty much been a reference letter. We can do more than that. We must do more than that.” Even if students lie about their empathy, kindness and optimism to buff up their portfolios, Liston says, “How long can you fake it before it actually becomes who you are?”

Alarmingly, some schools are taking character scores more seriously than the researchers intended. This year, nine school districts in California will begin to incorporate character assessments into school accountability, affecting their funding. “We’re nowhere near ready,” warns Duckworth in a column in the New York Times, “and perhaps never will be, to use feedback on character as a metric for judging the effectiveness of teachers and schools.” Duckworth notes that the new measurement tools may not be accurate due to cultural biases—for example, at one school, students from Korea ranked themselves lower on all attributes—and because students hold different standards for character indicators such as “comes to class prepared.” Regardless of the limitations, the measurements threaten to become “high-stakes metrics for accountability,” Duckworth writes. When a California teacher told her that she worried the school’s low scores would mean less funding per student, Duckworth writes, “I felt queasy.”

At W.J. Mouat, character grades range from 50 to 100 per cent, and final grades appear on student transcripts. Fraser hopes to learn more about the concept of character portfolios and their use for university applications. “I think it’s fascinating,” she says. Her students are currently spending their class time publicizing orange shirt day in remembrance of residential schools in Saskatchewan and planning an Aboriginal feast. Fraser expects character education to flood into Eastern Canada as schools show quantitative evidence of its success. “This wave is here,” says Fraser. “This wave isn’t going away.”