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Including At-Risk Students in Standards-Based Reform


we present three papers from a roundtable sponsored by Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL).

[a] Improving the Achievement of Marginalized Students of Color by Geneva Gay, Ph.D. This paper argues that the way to improve the achievement of marginalized students of color is to change classroom instruction, not to change students. A number of reform strategies are suggested that can be applied across subject areas and grades. These strategies are informed by the idea that teachers should be empowered to make their own instructional decisions. Teachers also should carefully analyze the teaching process to identify those dimensions that are most problematic for marginalized students and those that can best be modified so that information about diverse cultures are integrated into classroom learning experiences. The discussion is followed by the identification of four dimensions of teaching that strongly affect student achievement, with accompanying explanations about how these dimensions can be changed to be more effective for students of color.

[b] Immigrant Students and Standards-Based Reform: Examining Opportunities to learn by Pam McCollum, Ph.D. Although the expressed goal of nationally developed content standards is to promote high achievement for "all" children, no explicit guidance is offered about how to help different groups of students, including those "at-risk" for failure, meet these standards. In particular, the place of secondary-level, recent-immigrant students in the standards-based reform movement is unclear. Arguing that appropriate voluntary opportunity-to-learn standards generally have been ignored, this paper presents issues that should be the focus of such standards for secondary-level recent-immigrant students. Selected stories from an education collaborative for recent-immigrant high school students are shared to illustrate various ways in which the status quo can be changed to provide recent-immigrant students with the resources they need to achieve.

[c] The School District's Role in Helping High-Poverty Schools Become High Performing by Douglas McIver, Ph.D., and Robert Balfanz, Ph.D. A fundamental tenet of the standards-based movement is that all students can meet challenging standards. This belief, however, will remain wishful thinking unless schools find ways to consistently create high-quality learning opportunities and supportive environments that promote high levels of learning in every classroom every day. What is the school district's role in helping schools create and sustain these conditions? What support systems do districts need to build? In short, how can districts build an infrastructure that will help their schools become high performing? This monograph offers research-based answers to these questions.