Part I
Conference Summary



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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary Part I Conference Summary

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary This page in the original is blank.

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary 1 Introduction The transition to the new millennium was an opportune time to reflect on a challenge as difficult and fundamentally important to America as any: ensuring that students from all backgrounds achieve to high educational standards. To this end, the National Research Council (NRC), with support from the U.S. Department of Education, convened leading educators and researchers for a Millennium Conference and two preconference workshops that focused on the theme “Achieving High Educational Standards for All.” The conference focused on groups of students that historically have been disadvantaged in terms of educational opportunities and outcomes—especially students from racial and ethnic minority groups. Some speakers discussed research and reform strategies that were applicable for students from all backgrounds, and others focused on research and reforms specifically relating to the education of minority students, low-income students, or both. Whether a speaker emphasized general research and reforms or more targeted strategies, all presentations focused on the implications of various policies and practices for the education of students from the segments of society that historically have been least well served by schools. SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL: HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS OF CONTEMPORARY DISPARITIES One could pick any number of times and places to begin this very brief discussion of race, class, and education in America, but the charge to

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary conference participants was to discuss the education of minority and disadvantaged students from the time of Brown v. Board of Education to the present. Hence, we begin with the Supreme Court’s decision in the landmark 1954 case and the economic and social milieu from which it arose. (This discussion draws primarily on the presentation of Ronald Ferguson and to a lesser extent on remarks by William Taylor, Jay Heubert, Michael Rebell and Gary Orfield.) The Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (USSC+), that schools segregated on the basis of race are inherently unequal. To understand contemporary disparities in the education of minority and disadvantaged students, it is helpful to consider some of the historical facts that informed the Court’s ruling. Writing for the Court majority, Chief Justice Earl Warren stated: Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. . . . It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms. We must consider public education in the light of its full development and its present place in American life. . . . Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal. These excerpts indicate that by 1954, the Supreme Court understood the pivotal importance of education not only for the well being of individuals, but also for the continued functioning of American society and democracy. The Court also recognized the injustice of denying equal educational opportunity to any segment of the population. The Court found racially segregated schools to be inherently unequal, “even though physical facilities and other tangible factors may be equal.” In particular, the Court cited the adverse psychological effects of policies and laws supporting segregation, as they were assumed to convey “the inferiority of the Negro group.” Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Warren went on to note, “a sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn.” From a strictly logical, ahistorical perspective, one might wonder how the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that racially segregated schools inherently were unequal and why legally sanctioned segregation neces-

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary sarily conveyed a judgment of inferiority upon black students. However, it must be understood that the legally required segregation of Southern schools was but a part of the South’s pervasive system of Jim Crow laws, traditions, and the ideology of white supremacy (National Research Council, 1989:58-60; Thernstrom and Thernstrom, 1997:25-52). (Note: Throughout Part I, references to publications and research findings that were mentioned or alluded to by conference and workshop presenters are included for the reader’s convenience.) While segregation and other forms of racial discrimination were also common in Northern states (National Research Council, 1989:60), approximately two-thirds of black Americans lived in the South at the time of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and at least three-quarters lived south of the Mason-Dixon line prior to World War II (National Research Council, 1989:60-61). In An American Dilemma, the Nobel prize-winning economist and sociologist Gunnar Myrdal described school segregation in the context of the wider caste-like system of economic and social oppression that existed in the South from the end of Reconstruction in 1877 into the middle of the 20th century (Myrdal, 1944). Throughout most of this period, the “physical facilities and other tangible factors” related to the schooling of black students seldom were equal (National Research Council, 1989:59). Indeed, separate schools were maintained explicitly for the purpose of perpetuating the racial stratification that was the cornerstone of the Jim Crow system (Thernstrom and Thernstrom, 1997:36-52). It was not until the 1930s that the courts began to pay any attention to the word, “equal,” in the “separate but equal” doctrine that was derived from the Supreme Court’s 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. In the two decades prior to the Brown v. Board decision, the physical resources made available to black and white schools became more equitable due to the courts’ interventions (Thernstrom and Thernstrom, 1997:37). Nevertheless, the role that segregated schools played in maintaining the established system of racial inequality that had been documented by Myrdal and others remained clear. Thurgood Marshall, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board, extensively cited Myrdal’s work in his arguments against the “separate but equal” doctrine. Although the deliberate segregation of schools by race has been illegal since 1954, Ronald Ferguson, Michael Rebell and Gary Orfield noted during the conference that the government did not take decisive steps to desegregate schools until 10 years later. Key to this was the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a series of strong court rulings between 1968 and 1973. Despite the progress in reducing the segregation of black students, little was ever accomplished in reducing the very substantial segregation of Hispanic students.

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary SYSTEMIC EDUCATION REFORM AND TARGETED EFFORTS TO ELIMINATE DISPARITIES Nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, data presented in this volume make it clear that, although substantial progress has been made in improving the quality of education for minority students, enormous disparities remain. Compounding this problem is the fact that national surveys of academic performance show that many students from all backgrounds lack proficiency in various academic subjects (National Assessment Governing Board, 1997; National Center for Education Statistics 1997, 1999a, 1999b). Furthermore, international comparative studies show that the academic performance of U.S. students, rich and poor, minority and nonminority, trails that of students from many other countries (National Center for Education Statistics, 1999b). Collectively, these data show that U.S. schools still are far from enabling the achievement of high educational standards by all students. It is clear that to accomplish this will require not only that achievement gaps associated with race, ethnicity, and class be eliminated, but also that learning outcomes for students from all segments of society be improved. Data presented at the conference also show that racial and ethnic disparities in education outcomes are only partly explained by differences in the average socioeconomic status of racial and ethnic groups. Students whose parents have less education and who come from low-income families tend to have lower academic achievement and complete fewer years of schooling than do students from wealthier families and who have parents who completed more schooling (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). Similarly, black, Hispanic, and American Indian students tend to have lower indicators of academic achievement and to complete fewer years of schooling than do non-Hispanic white and Asian students (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). Although black, Hispanic, and American Indian students, on average, come from families with lower incomes and levels of parental education than do others, these racial/ ethnic differences in average socioeconomic status statistically account for only part of the racial/ethnic differences in education outcomes. Edmund Gordon, the conference keynote speaker, challenged others at the conference to seriously examine the question of whether systemic reforms of curriculum and instruction intended to boost achievement for all students will be sufficient to address the more acute needs of more disadvantaged students. He suggested that while much could be accomplished by systemic educational reforms, substantial progress toward closing the achievement gap may require more targeted efforts addressing issues related to race/ethnicity and class not only in schools, but also in communities and in society.

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary Neither the conference nor this volume resolves the difficult question posed by Gordon, although many conference speakers argued that improving achievement for segments of the population that traditionally have been poorly served by schools will not be accomplished by simple, unidimensional approaches. Conference speakers discussed a variety of research findings and analyses of many different kinds of influences on education outcomes and many kinds of programs and policies intended to improve them. They offered no single answer to the question of how the nation will achieve the goal of high educational standards for all. This volume, then, does not reflect a consensus of conference participants; rather, it offers research findings, interpretations, and insights from a diverse and distinguished group of expert presenters that includes some of the country’s most eminent education scholars. OVERVIEW OF THIS VOLUME The volume is divided into three parts: Part I Conference Summary Part II Perspectives of the Co-Moderators Part III Conference Papers Part I Part I is composed of six chapters and summarizes presentations made at the two preconference workshops and the conference. In its focus on racial and ethnic trends and the outcomes of efforts to close the gaps and eliminate racial inequality, Part I follows the lead of another recent NRC report, America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences (2001a)— albeit with a more specific focus on education. This summary, like the conference and workshop presentations it describes, also draws heavily on the large amount of education-related work done by the NRC. Box 1-1 briefly outlines these and other NRC reports. Following this description of the objectives of the conference and the organization of this report, Chapter 2 presents a statistical portrait of demographic and education trends for racial and ethnic groups during the latter half of the 20th century. The chapter concludes with the observations by conference keynote speaker Edmund Gordon. NRC committees have conducted several important studies synthesizing scientific research on learning. The breadth and depth of the findings of these reports far exceeds the scope of this volume. Their highlights were reported at the conference and appear in Chapter 3.

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary The presentations by John Bransford, Catherine Snow, and Barbara Bowman cited findings from the NRC committees that each chaired or cochaired on learning research (1998a; 1999a; 2000a), early reading (National Research Council, 1998b;1999b), and early childhood development (National Research Council, 2000b; 2000c), respectively. These topics were discussed with a particular emphasis on efforts to improve learning for groups of students that generally have not been well served by schools. For a more complete treatment of these topics, the reader is encouraged to consult these reports. Also discussed in Chapter 3 is a presentation of research findings on the care and education of young children by Craig Ramey. The chapter concludes with a description of a conceptual framework on the topic of building instructional capacity in schools. David Cohen presented this framework, which he developed with Deborah Ball. In its focus on the social dimensions of learning, Chapter 4 continues the dialogue that took place during the conference between scholars who emphasized in-school influences on learning with those who emphasized external influences. It draws on Gary Orfield’s statistical portrait of segregated, high-poverty schools, Claude Steele’s presentation on the social psychological implications of race, discussions by Steele and Patricia Gándara about the need for educational interventions and programs that are calibrated to the specific issues that need to be addressed, and presentations by Min Zhou, Marta Tienda, Eugene Garcia, and others on the needs of language minority and immigrant children. In Chapter 5, the emphasis shifts to the examination of education policy related to minority and economically disadvantaged students, from the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, to school finance litigation, the legal concept of “educational adequacy,” the standards movement, and high-stakes testing. The chapter draws heavily on presentations by Ronald Ferguson, Gary Orfield, Michael Rebell, Jacob Adams, and Jay Heubert. The theme of Chapter 6 is the application of research to practice. It highlights different models by which research findings have been integrated into educational practice. It begins with Samuel Stringfield’s views on school reform as essentially an engineering problem. For Stringfield, successful school reform depends on developing reliable systems to implement instructional practices that have been research-tested and proven effective. Following Stringfield is a discussion of research-based technical assistance for educational reform and Robert Slavin’s description of the design, implementation, and widespread dissemination of Success for All, a highly scripted whole-school reform model. Bertha Rubio, principal of Davey Crockett Elementary School in San Antonio, provided a case study of the implementation and outcomes of Success for All at her school.

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary The chapter concludes with a summary of the presentations by Lauren Resnick and Diana Lam, who described their work to implement systemic reforms intended to turn the entire school district of Providence, Rhode Island, into an organized network of learning communities. The reform model, developed by Lauren Resnick, emphasizes accountability and the building of an organized network of learning communities among students, teachers, and administrators. Part II Part II features the perspectives of the conference co-moderators, Christopher Edley and Catherine Snow. Edley assesses the adequacy of education research described at the conference for informing the work of policy makers. His commentary puts into context information presented at the conference in relation to the struggle for civil rights and to contemporary policy debates about education reform. Catherine Snow, referring to comments made in a preconference workshop by the former assistant secretary of education, Kent McGuire, argues that it is the job of education researchers to “help people be smarter about educating children.” Referring to material presented at the conference, she notes that there are several areas, including the care and education of young children, early reading, and early mathematics instruction, in which the research base is adequate to guide new instructional practices—practices that, if properly implemented, could reliably be expected to improve outcomes. A major challenge, she suggests, is to develop strategies and systems that will enable educators to implement these practices in real-world settings. Part III Part III consists of three papers authored or coauthored by conference presenters Marta Tienda, Ronald Ferguson, and Michael Rebell. The papers expand on the issues that they discussed during their conference presentations. Topics Covered in Conference Presentations According to the statement of task that was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Academies Governing Board to authorize this project, the conference presentations were to accomplish three goals: Analyze the progress that has been achieved to date in improving the educational opportunities and achievement of minority and disadvantaged youth;

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary BOX 1-1 NRC Reports on Themes Relevant to the Conference Questions A Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society (1990) This book summarizes and interprets a large body of data and research analyses concerning the position of blacks in American society since the eve of World War II. By studying and comparing black and white age cohorts, it charts 50 years of change and continuity in the status of blacks in the areas of education, housing, employment, political participation, and family life. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences (2001) These two volumes explore past and current trends among blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians in the context of a white majority. They present the most findings and analysis on compelling issues in the field of race relations, including race and ethnicity in the criminal justice system; demographic and social trends; trends in minority-owned businesses; wealth, welfare, and racial stratification; residential segregation; disparities in educational test scores; health and development; immigration; and the changing meaning of race and changing racial attitudes. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (1998) The book examines the epidemiology of reading problems and discusses word identification, comprehension, and other processes in normal reading development. Against the background of normal progress, it examines factors that put children at risk of poor reading, exploring how literacy can be fostered from birth through kindergarten and the primary grades, including evaluation of philosophies, systems, and materials commonly used to teach reading. The scholarly research in this volume is the basis for the popular version for parents, teachers, and caregivers, Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success (1999). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (1999) This book explores new evidence from many branches of science that has significantly added to the understanding of what it means to know—from the neural processes that occur during learning to the influence of culture on what people see and absorb. The book examines these findings and their implications for what people teach, how they teach it, and how they assess what children learn. It uses exemplary teaching to illustrate how approaches based on what is now known result in deeper understanding— calling into question concepts and practices firmly entrenched in the current education system. High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation (1999) The book focuses on how testing is used in schools to make decisions about tracking and placement, promotion and retention, and awarding or withholding high school diplomas. It discusses how to judge the appropriateness of a test; how to make tests reliable, valid, and fair; strategies and practices to promote proper test use; and how decision makers in education should—and should not—use test results. The book discusses common misuses of testing, their political and social context, what happens when test issues are taken to court, special student populations, and social promotion. How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice (1999) Taking as its point of departure the previous report, this book considers what research and development could help incorporate its insights into classroom practice. It proposes an agenda for a comprehensive program of “use-inspired” strategic research focused on improving

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary classroom learning and teaching. The two reports have been combined in a single volume, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School—Expanded Edition (2000). Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers (2001) This book focuses on early education and care for children ages 2 to 5, with a review of key discoveries in how children learn. Well before formal schooling begins, children’s early experiences lay the foundations for their later social behavior, emotional regulation, and literacy. Yet for a variety of reasons, far too little attention is given to the quality of these crucial years. This book considers what it would take to provide better early education and care for young children. It synthesizes new findings on how they learn and the impact of early learning, the interplay of biology and environment, variations in learning among individuals and children from different social and economic groups, and the importance of health, safety, nutrition and interpersonal warmth to early learning. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (2000) How to raise young children is one of today’s most highly personalized and sharply politicized issues, and the debate has intensified as discoveries about development—in the womb and in the first months and years—have reached the popular media. Presenting new findings in neurobiology as well as in behavioral and social sciences, this book draws important conclusions about nature-versus-nurture, the impact of being born into a working family, the effect of politics on programs for children, and the costs and benefits of intervention. It issues a series of challenges to decision makers regarding the quality of child care, issues of racial and ethnic diversity, and the integration of children’s cognitive and emotional development. Other NRC reports on themes relevant to minority families and communities: Measuring Poverty: A New Approach (1995) Beyond the Blueprint: Directions for Research on Head Start’s Families (1996) The Use of IQ Tests in Special Education Decision Making and Planning: Summary of Two Workshops (1996) Improving Schooling for Language-Minority Children: A Research Agenda (1997) Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Health of Older Americans (1997) Educating Language-Minority Children (1998) From Generation to Generation: The Health and Well-Being of Children in Immigrant Families (1998) Welfare, the Family, and Reproductive Behavior: Research Perspectives (1998) Governance and Opportunity in Metropolitan America (1999) Testing, Teaching, and Learning: A Guide for States and School Districts (1999) Testing English-Language Learners in U.S. Schools: Report and Workshop Summary (2000) NRC reports are available on line (read-only) and for sale at http://www.nap.edu/index.html

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Achieving High Educational Standards For All: Conference Summary Provide educators and policy makers with information about effective classroom interventions; and Build understanding about how to identify and access high-quality technical assistance. As previously mentioned, conference presentations primarily addressed issues related to the educational progress of minority students, especially those who also are poor. Because the presentations did not substantially address questions related to the educational progress of low-income students who were not from racial or ethnic minority groups, this report does not specifically address issues related to the education of non-Hispanic white students who are economically disadvantaged. However, Chapter 2 of the conference summary (Part I) and the paper by Lloyd, Tienda, and Zajacova in Part III contain information differentiating educational issues pertaining to minorities, who make up a disproportionate share of students who are economically disadvantaged, from those of economically disadvantaged students who are not minorities. Conference presentations describing effective classroom interventions are highlighted in Chapter 6 (Part I). Effective classroom practices, along with the research on which they are based, also are described in Chapter 2 (Part I). In addition, Catherine Snow’s paper in Part II identifies classroom practices that research has found to be effective, as well as challenges related to their widespread dissemination and implementation. As she noted, much more work needs to be done before practices that have been shown to work well in isolated model programs can be scaled up and reliably implemented throughout the country. There was little discussion at the conference about how educators can identify and access high-quality technical assistance. Although none of the presentations at the conference were of a “how-to” nature, a preconference workshop was devoted to a discussion of identifying high-quality technical assistance to build instructional capacity. Presentations from the workshop on technical assistance are summarized in Chapter 6. The conference did include much discussion of how research has informed and can inform education policies and practice, and readers of this volume can learn about research findings on good educational practice. Much of Chapter 6 in Part I describes how educators have successfully applied research findings to improve student learning.