Title

Poverty: A Society of Hidden Rules, Behaviors, and Expectations that Influence Student Achievement in Urban Schools.

Location

Vernon

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

The diversity of cultures, languages, economics, disabilities, or learning styles present in United States’ classrooms, because of the rapidly changing population demographics, is causing teachers to find little satisfaction with their instruction, when the curriculum is no longer effective at addressing the needs of all learners (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006). Additionally, school's are struggling to address the diverse needs of these learners while working to ensure that they are meeting all of the state defined standards and expectations. Students who are culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse bring diverse learning styles, cultural traditions, and behaviors that affect their abilities to learn within the conventional general education settings. Sullivan (2011) asserts that teachers struggle with how to provide instruction for educationally disadvantaged students; especially those who are currently learning to speak English as well as read English with all-English written materials. O’Hara and Pritchard (2008) maintain that half of all teachers, nationally, can expect to have culturally and linguistically diverse students within their classrooms. Yet, most of these teachers that have educationally disadvantaged students within their classrooms have little or no training in addressing their learning needs. Teachers frequently fail to take into account student’s diverse backgrounds and expect that all students will come to school with academic pre-readiness skills as the result of exposure to educational toys, games, and stimulating activities at home (Burstein & Cabello, 1989). While the design of pedagogical practices is to educate all students, they may be inappropriate and detrimental for the education of educationally disadvantaged learners (Burstein & Cabello, 1989). Pedagogical induction of disabilities can account for the reason that most educationally disadvantaged students receive special education services, as many of the practices within schools are unfamiliar to students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds (Burstein & Cabello, 1989). The educational research on the disproportionality of these students in special education, fifty years after Brown v Board of education, highlights that despite desegregation policies, many public schools in the United States have 100% racial/ethnic minority students, with most states spending less money on their high poverty districts than their low poverty districts (Glickman et al., 2010). This demographic shift is creating a new debate surrounding equality within schools (Minow, 2010). With the changing population demographics and new legislation requiring schools to include all students, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities, the debate begins over residential segregation (Minow, 2010). Residential segregation because of economic disadvantages produces schools and classrooms divided by race, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity (Minow, 2010). Families with financial resources avoid racially mixed schools, therefore most large urban districts have a 70% non-white population with a concentrated poverty level where students perform lower on standardized testing, have an increased risk of dropping out of school, and face higher levels of violence and disruption than suburban schools (Minow, 2010). This segregation has lead researchers, within the last century to turn their focus towards the performance of urban schools, the disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education, and the effect of socioeconomic status on learning (Utley, Delquadri, Obiakor, & Mims, 2000). Harry (1992, 1994) uncovered that Hispanic students were both overrepresented and underrepresented in special education classes, relative to the general population (as cited in Utley et al., 2000). Additionally, the data from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the Common Core of Data Public School Universe File (CCD) highlights special education inequities in specific disability categories (specific learning disabilities, communication disabilities) within certain demographic areas (urban versus suburban) (Utley et al., 2000). For example, according to the United States Department of Education (1996) there is a higher percentage of Hispanic students identified as learning disabled within suburban settings than within urban settings (as cited in Utley et al., 2000). However, in 1998 MacMillan and Reschly discovered significant variability within the OCR data bases, regarding state definitions and descriptive data of disability categories, resulted in the oversimplification of ethnicity and socioeconomic status as variables that influence learning. Additionally, in spite of MacMillan and Reschly’s (1998) discovery, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in 2002 reported that one fourth of students in special education are from a cultural or linguistic group different from their teachers, and 7% are ELLs. The lack of educators adjusting to cultural differences, learning styles, and social emotional needs, according to Glickman et al. (2010), results in the misdiagnosis of socioeconomic, racial/ethnic minority students as special education students contributing to the perpetuating problem of disproportionality.

Brief Program Description

Educationally disadvantaged students, students in poverty or students whose first language is not English, come to school prepared to play a game of baseball. Their caregivers have taught them the rules of baseball (how to hit the ball, how to run the bases, how to steal home plate). They come to school with their cleats and their bats ready to play. However, when they enter their classrooms instead of seeing a baseball field they see a basketball court. They start their days thinking, "We don't know how to play this game, we know the rules to a different game". Similarly teachers spend their summers preparing to coach their basketball teams. They outlined their plays, identified their starting and reserve players, and planned out the practice and game schedules. They come to school on the first day and find that their courts are filled with basketball and baseball players. "Baseball players? How are we supposed to coach a basketball team that is a mix of basketball and baseball players? We coach basketball, not baseball. We don't know how to coach baseball"

Rules are the guidelines for how things are supposed to be done. However, while rules govern what we do, what we say, and how we behave they are not always written and in sight. Hidden rules govern how specific groups of individuals interact and behave, and are unique to each group of individuals. Hidden rules exist for all races, cultures, and environments, including schools.

This interactive research based workshop, designed for general and special education teachers, social workers, educational administrators, and other school professionals that service students living in poverty or with English as a second language, is designed to provide information on how the hidden rules of educationally disadvantaged students differ from the hidden rules of most United States classrooms. Additionally, participants will be exposed to strategies, using case studies, interactive activities, as well as research based interventions, that can increase the success of these students in the general education setting, and assist in preventing unnecessary referrals to special education.

Summary

Participants will learn how the academic performance and behaviors of educationally disadvantaged students (students in poverty, student's whose first language is not English) are related to the cultural norms and expectations within their respective communities. Participants will be given research and evidenced based information as to how student's behavior learned through their cultural norms manifests itself in the classroom, and how to effectively manage student behavior. Using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in identifying how behaviors are learned and generalized into other settings, and how to address these behaviors and re-teach appropriate behaviors. Additionally participants will be given research and evidenced based practices that increase the academic outcomes of educationally disadvantaged students, including but not limited to Differentiated Instruction, Co-teaching, Identifying Accommodations versus Modifications, and Executive Function Processes. Participants will encounter both lecture and case studies and be given opportunities to design interventions to increase the academic and behavioral success of their student's in their classrooms and schools.

Evidence

The theory that urban schools are in trouble and failing America’s children because of poor management permeates the economic and educational news (Ogbu, 1970; Lankford, Loeb, Wyckoff, 2002; Howell, Peterson, Wolf, Cambell, 2006; Smarick, 2008). However, Duncan and Murane (2011) maintain that the root of the failure of these schools is not due to the administration, but due to the drastic economic changes that are increasing the numbers of students in poverty. According to Duncan and Murane (2011) the increasing educational attainment of America’s children that marked the first part of the 21st century fueled economic growth. However, during the last three decades this drastic growth has only highlighted the further economic and academic separation of the nation’s rich and poor (Duncan & Moran, 2011). Additionally, the diversity of cultures, languages, economics, disabilities, or learning styles present in United States’ classrooms, because of the rapidly changing population demographics, is causing teachers to find little satisfaction with their instruction, when the curriculum is no longer effective at addressing the needs of all learners (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006). Schools are struggling to address the diverse needs of these learners while working to ensure that they are meeting all of the state defined standards and expectations. Sullivan (2011) asserts that teachers struggle with how to provide instruction for educationally disadvantaged students, students living in poverty and those learning to speak and read English. O’Hara and Pritchard (2008) maintain that half of all teachers, nationally, can expect to have culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students within their classrooms. Yet, most of these teachers that have educationally disadvantaged students within their classrooms have little or no training in understanding the diverse cultural norms, expectations, and behaviors that influence how these students learn.

Teachers frequently fail to take into account student’s diverse backgrounds, and expect that all students will come to school with academic pre-readiness skills as the result of exposure to educational toys, games, and stimulating activities at home (Burstein & Cabello, 1989). Yet, students who are culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse bring diverse learning styles, cultural traditions, and behaviors that affect their abilities to learn within the conventional general education settings. Their behaviors, academic performance, and communication styles are directly related to the cultural norms and expectations learned within their homes. While, the term culture is often equated with ethnicity, culture is a set of behaviors given to a particular society (Bodely, 2010). The concept of children living in poverty as a culture is highly debated within the educational research, however upon closer examination, families living in poverty have sets of behaviors and expectations that are unique to their financial situations and are often drastically different than the expected social and behavioral norms in United States classrooms. Additionally, when students are both socioeconomically and ethnically diverse, the norms and expectations that students learn prior to entering United State’s schools may conflict with the expected school norms.

DeVol (2004) asserts that the environment in which one lives teaches hidden rules. In order to survive within a particular community, a person needs to learn these rules, as they are the expected norms for behavior within that society (DeVol, 2004). Hidden rules or knowledge funds exist for all races, cultures, and classes but in order to learn them people must immerse themselves in that particular race, culture, or class (Payne, 2013; Templeton, 2013).

For families living in poverty their hidden rules differ from some conventional American values because their rules are about survival (Payne, 2013). Most American’s judge a person’s actions, language, and behavior as morally right or wrong if it differs from their knowledge funds, often without understanding that cultural rules or norms that are attached to those behaviors (Strouse, 2001). Similarly, Payne (2008) asserts that educators knowledge of hidden rules is important because they influence students learning, relationships, and behaviors. Children do not come to school with a plan to struggle or misbehave, and what educators perceive as learning disabilities or misbehavior may be the children’s misinterpretation of the hidden rules of a school environment when compared to the rules of their homes (Payne, 2013). Payne (2008) compares the hidden rules of home and the hidden rules of school to teaching a child the rules for basketball and telling them to play baseball. The rules used in basketball do not transfer to the game of baseball, two different games with two entirely different set of rules. The same is true for educators. Educators prepare to coach basketball players and have baseball players mixed into their rosters. Thus, the struggle with teaching the rules of basketball to the baseball players, and often feel that time is wasted by teaching a group of players the rules to a game they should have come prepared to play. This example easily illustrates the frustration that students from poverty can feel when entering the classroom, they are prepared to play baseball when the actual game is basketball.

Hidden rules also exist within the culture of school environments. Chafel (1997) asserts that schools have two forms of curriculum, one overt and the other covert. According to Chafel (1997), the over curriculum is the pre-determined course of study. It is the school’s curriculum, the state’s standards, and the district’s competencies that determine a student’s matriculation from elementary school, to middle school, to high school, and for college acceptance. It is visible and written expectations of the American education system (Chafel, 2997). However, the covert curriculum, or the hidden curriculum, according to Chafel (1997) differs between communities and is not concrete. Schools’ hidden curricula, according to Chafel (1997), are the expected norms, values and beliefs that an individual learns when immersed within this culture.

While the design of pedagogical practices is to educate all students, they may be inappropriate and detrimental for the education of educationally disadvantaged learners (Burstein & Cabello, 1989). Pedagogical induction of disabilities can account for the reason that most educationally disadvantaged students receive special education services, as many of the practices within schools are unfamiliar to students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds (Burstein & Cabello, 1989). The educational research on these learners points to the disproportionality of culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students in special education. However, both general and special education teachers have little training or understanding of how the cultural norms and behaviors that a student learns at home translates into classroom performance. Therefore, by empowering general and special education teachers to embrace this challenging population by highlighting how students’ cultures translate into classroom performance may assist in decreasing the disproportionality of culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students within special education classrooms.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Sherie-Lyn Sirois is a doctoral candidate at American International College in Springfield Massachusetts with over 15 years of educational experience. Ms. Sirois began her educational career, working with students with autism at the New England Center for Children in Southborough Massachusetts while completing her Masters Degree from Simmons College. Ms. Sirois' teaching experiences range from an educator in a residential setting to inclusive and substantially separate settings in a large urban educational system. In 2007, she received her Board Certification in Applied Behavior Analysis (BCBA) from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and became the first BCBA in a large urban district in Massachusetts. Over the course of her career Ms. Sirois has developed a passion for working with educationally disadvantaged youth in urban settings. A strong advocate for inclusion, Ms. Sirois devotes her time to developing and strengthening relationships and programs between general and special education teachers in order to provide all students with equal access to high level and rigorous academic experiences. Ms. Sirois' recent dissertation focused on addressing the disproportionality of educationally disadvantaged students in special education by implementing a quantitative research study that evaluated the effectiveness of teacher professional development on the referrals of educationally disadvantaged students to special education.

Keyword Descriptors

Poverty, English Language Learners, Dispropotionality, Professional Development, Inclusion, Equity

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-9-2016 11:15 AM

End Date

3-9-2016 12:30 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Mar 9th, 11:15 AM Mar 9th, 12:30 PM

Poverty: A Society of Hidden Rules, Behaviors, and Expectations that Influence Student Achievement in Urban Schools.

Vernon

Educationally disadvantaged students, students in poverty or students whose first language is not English, come to school prepared to play a game of baseball. Their caregivers have taught them the rules of baseball (how to hit the ball, how to run the bases, how to steal home plate). They come to school with their cleats and their bats ready to play. However, when they enter their classrooms instead of seeing a baseball field they see a basketball court. They start their days thinking, "We don't know how to play this game, we know the rules to a different game". Similarly teachers spend their summers preparing to coach their basketball teams. They outlined their plays, identified their starting and reserve players, and planned out the practice and game schedules. They come to school on the first day and find that their courts are filled with basketball and baseball players. "Baseball players? How are we supposed to coach a basketball team that is a mix of basketball and baseball players? We coach basketball, not baseball. We don't know how to coach baseball"

Rules are the guidelines for how things are supposed to be done. However, while rules govern what we do, what we say, and how we behave they are not always written and in sight. Hidden rules govern how specific groups of individuals interact and behave, and are unique to each group of individuals. Hidden rules exist for all races, cultures, and environments, including schools.

This interactive research based workshop, designed for general and special education teachers, social workers, educational administrators, and other school professionals that service students living in poverty or with English as a second language, is designed to provide information on how the hidden rules of educationally disadvantaged students differ from the hidden rules of most United States classrooms. Additionally, participants will be exposed to strategies, using case studies, interactive activities, as well as research based interventions, that can increase the success of these students in the general education setting, and assist in preventing unnecessary referrals to special education.