As teachers, we can move beyond the talk about the achievement gap, and instead, utilize proven strategies to affect real change in our classrooms.
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There has been much discussion on the topic of the “achievement gap" which often addresses policies and procedures, recommendations for increasing student achievement and decreasing the gap. However, how do we move beyond the exhaustive debate of how and why achievement gaps exists, to realistic measures that decrease the gap, and enable students to achieve successfully?
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Get Your Parents Involved
The process of teaching and learning is not one to be left to teacher and student alone. Parents must actively participate in the process.
Teachers -- it is our job to help parents to feel comfortable in assuming their roles within the school walls. We need to communicate both the strengths and weaknesses of our students to our parents. We need to familiarize them with educational policies and procedure, and new educational trends that they may not be familiar with.
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Develop a Classroom Culture of Enhanced Learning
Create a classroom culture that will enhance the learning for all students. In today’s classroom the seats are filled with students who will experience the world in innumerable ways, and in most cases no two way will be alike. Therefore, it is the teacher’s responsibility to create leaning opportunities for each child that will accommodate individual learning styles.
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Set High and Attainable Goals for Students
Create a classroom that sets high and attainable expectations for all students. All students need to know and understand that there are educational goals that they need to meet.
Furthermore, students want to know they can reach goals; they need to be acknowledged and celebrated when those goals are met. It is the teacher’s responsibility to communicate educational goals to students. This can be done by conferencing with students, and working together with them to monitor their progress.
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Teach To the Child and Not the Test!
High stakes testing has invaded the educational process. It’s challenges and benefits are continuously debated. However, because we are all good teachers we understand the benefits and comply. We teach our students to master standards that will enable them to meet the achievement criteria on tests. However, remember to teach beyond the standards. For example, character education, preserving the arts, and tapping into those hidden talents that only that one child possess are great ways to go beyond the “test."
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Create an Action Plan
At the beginning of each school year, like many of you; I sit down as a faculty and desegregate data. In the data we are able to determine gaps. It is important to know what gaps or challenges exist, however even more important, is the action plan that individual teachers or groups of teachers create to be decrease the gap and increase the achievement for all students.
Get your parents involved
Create high and attainable goals for all students
Create a classroom culture that will enhance the learning experience for all students
Teach to the child not to the test
“Let’s stop talking about the gap, and move towards closing it."