Location

Ballroom E

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This session closely aligns with conference strand one, Academic Achievement & School Leadership: Closing achievement gaps and promoting learning for all children and youth especially for high-poverty populations. The presenter will share strategies used at a Title I funded middle school in Illinois that proved highly effective at increasing student achievement amongst low-income and minority students. By challenging participants to critically examine several traditional schooling practices, this session will help educators establish more equitable classrooms and schools through differentiated instruction and culturally responsive pedagogy. Participants will leave with a better understanding of their role in making achievement equity a reality for all children.

Brief Program Description

Closing achievement gaps requires schools to provide all students with equitable opportunities to learn. It is necessary to increase students’ access to rigorous curricula and quality instruction, engage all learners both cognitively and affectively, and acknowledge the unique talents and cultural knowledge that all children possess. This session is designed to help educators address the challenge of eliminating achievement gaps.

Summary

Achievement equity is not currently a reality in American public education. And, if all students are going to perform at the high levels of proficiency expected under the No Child Left Behind Act and Common Core State Standards, the traditional system of schooling must be transformed to better serve historically marginalized students. To this end, participants will learn how to move beyond status quo reform efforts in order to improve the educational opportunities for low-income and minority students. The presented approach advocates for increasing students’ access to rigorous curricula and quality instruction, promoting cognitive and affective engagement over behavioral compliance, and acknowledging the unique talents and cultural knowledge that all children possess as a means of creating a learning environment in which everyone belongs and contributes. By transforming philosophy and pedagogy to increase access, engagement, and acknowledgement for all students, schools can dramatically improve student learning and achievement. In fact, the three-pronged approach to Universal Achievement was successfully employed at an Illinois middle school under the direction of school principal and session presenter, Dr. Chris Colgren. As a result, 93 percent of the students, of whom over 90 percent were considered low-income and approximately 65 percent were minority children, met or exceeded standards on the state-mandated Illinois Standards Achievement Test. Their performance not only represented an improvement of nearly 20 percentage points but, more importantly, demonstrated achievement gap-eliminating potential. Accordingly, for achievement equity to become a reality for all children, schools must transform into learning organizations committed to Universal Achievement. In this session, Dr. Colgren will introduce the change needed with an emphasis on how to establish a curricular framework that maintains high standards for all students, an instructional framework that promotes culturally responsive pedagogy, and a system of supports and interventions that empowers both struggling and advanced learners. Participants will leave with practical strategies that can be employed immediately in their classrooms or schools (e.g., differentiating instruction based upon readiness, interest, and learning style) as well as a deeper understanding of the philosophical changes needed to advance school transformation (e.g., adoption of a growth mindset over a fixed mindset).

Evidence

This session advocates for an approach to school improvement used at high-poverty middle school to close gaps in academic achievement. Specifically, 93 percent of that school’s low-income students met or exceeded standards in reading, whereas, only 69 percent of low-income students within the same district and 75 percent of low-income students across the state of Illinois met or exceeded standards. In mathematics, 92 percent of the low-income students attending said school met or exceeded standards as compared to 71 percent of similar students within the district and 75 percent across the state. Furthermore, the 18-percentage-point reading achievement gap between low-income and non low-income students statewide was nonexistent when low-income students attending the presenter’s school were compared to non low-income students statewide. And because 75 percent of the students attending the presenter’s school met or exceeded standards prior to entering the program, these students represent an ideal sampling of low-income students across the state of Illinois, and prove that achievement gaps can be eliminated.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Chris Colgren is a public school administrator in Illinois’ capital city, where he has worked successfully with children of all ages within elementary, middle, and high schools. Most of his experiences in education have involved serving low-income and minority children, including the opportunity to serve as the founding principal of two schools dedicated to improving education for traditionally marginalized children. Dr. Colgren earned a doctorate in educational administration and foundations from Illinois State University and is a staunch advocate for equity in education.

Keyword Descriptors

achievement gaps, reform, transformation, differentiated instruction, culturally responsive pedagogy

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 10:15 AM

End Date

3-3-2015 11:30 AM

Previous Versions

Mar 1 2015

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Mar 3rd, 10:15 AM Mar 3rd, 11:30 AM

Transformational Leadership for Access, Engagement, and Empowerment

Ballroom E

Closing achievement gaps requires schools to provide all students with equitable opportunities to learn. It is necessary to increase students’ access to rigorous curricula and quality instruction, engage all learners both cognitively and affectively, and acknowledge the unique talents and cultural knowledge that all children possess. This session is designed to help educators address the challenge of eliminating achievement gaps.