Helping close achievement gap is everybody’s business
Conference gives tips and strategies
The second annual Bridging the Achievement Gap Conference was held Nov. 6 at the Palmdale Learning Plaza, and gave administrators, educators, parents, and community members effective strategies to help close the persistent achievement gap.
“There is an achievement gap between the test scores, student achievement scores of African-American students, students with disabilities, students from impoverished homes, students where English is not the first language spoken at home and (their) White cohorts,” Palmdale School District Superintendent Roger Gallizzi said."
The purpose of this conference is to address that issue, to talk about it, look at strategies to close that gap and address it from a variety of different perspectives—teachers, administrators, parents, and other community members, said Gallizzi.
The conference featured workshops and in-depth discussions regarding the unique needs of Hispanics, African-Americans, special education students, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Gallizzi, of the Palmdale School District, also led a workshop for faith-based organizations and people of the community. His presentation targeted pastors, ministries, priests, and bishops and their roles as community leaders to help close the gap.
Director of migrant, immigrant, and English learner programs for the Palmdale School District, Geoff Brown led a workshop that centered on English learners and other underachieving students.
He believes using the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is a valuable approach to closing the gap.
The SIOP model is distinctive because it offers a field-tested protocol for systematic lesson planning, delivery, and assessment which makes its application for teaching English-learners transparent for both pre-service candidates preparing to be teachers and for practicing educators engaged in staff development.
“The main thing that I think is important is we really have to have high expectations for our students and know that they can achieve,” Brown said. “And when we do that, that’s the most important hurdle to get over—hold those high expectations and not accept anything less than our kids’ best.”
Perhaps the most enticing, entertaining, and encouraging presentation was made by keynote speaker Larry Bell, who has been the key presenter at hundreds of other local and regional conferences across the country including the National Association of Multicultural Education Conference.
Bell is also a 25-year veteran in education, and has been nominated for the National Agnes Mayer Outstanding Teacher Award.
The veteran educator discussed high expectations, test preparation strategies for all students as well as motivational techniques to use in the classroom and at home.
“The most effective way (for adults) to get kids to do this is to be excited about it yourself,” Bell said. “The number one way to inspire children is to be inspired yourself.”
Bell says that believing in the children, believing in yourself, and doing little things everyday such as encouraging kids, doing vocabulary, reading daily, and never accepting an excuse can be critical.
PALMDALE, Calif.—“Waiting for Superman,” a riveting new documentary on the state of learning in America, is being screened in theaters all across the country. The film’s impactful message about hope, poverty, and education recently caught the attention of Antelope Valley residents, including parents and teachers.
On Tuesday (March 29) night at the Palmdale Learning Plaza, the League of Women Voters of the Antelope Valley hosted a screening and a subsequent discussion of the controversial film.
The Palmdale School District is hosting the second annual Bridging the Achievement Gap Conference Nov. 6 at the Palmdale Learning Plaza to give parents, educators, administrators and community members valuable strategies to help close the persisting achievement gap.
“[The goal of the conference] is to give teachers and parents strategies to help students who are having a difficult time in the classroom. This is a state and nationwide issue,” said Jezelle Fullwood event coordinator.
African American students achieve at a different level than White students. Test scores are lower, as are high school and college completion rates, and the number of African Americans attending four-year institutions is falling. The rate of African American suspensions and expulsions from K-12 schools is higher than that of other groups. By almost any metric, there are gaps between African American students and White or Asian students (Latinos achieve at about the same rate as African Americans).
After spending eight years in the state Legislature, I can tell you that here in Sacramento, there’s no shortage of good intentions. But what we are lacking is a track record of good results.
President Obama’s White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, the only Executive Order signed by the president to focus specifically on African Americans, got a new executive director two days ago—David C. Johns, a former educational staffer for the U.S. Senate. The aim of the initiative is to seek out “evidence-based best practices anywhere in the U.S.