There are many, many moving parts on an elementary campus. A typical elementary campus houses as many as seven grade levels ranging from Prekindergarten to fifth grade with as many as seven hundred to a thousand students. Arrival and dismissal times are high activity periods with students’ mode of transportation that varies from bus transportation to car riders to walkers to bike riders. Lunch time, library, special areas, two recesses a day, and special exercise periods require organizational procedures and scheduling to move large groups of students from place to place. Both Title 1 and non-Title 1 campuses are subjected to large student group movements requiring high organizational and scheduling measures. These are the common elements. What are the primary separation points between the two campus socioeconomic settings?
The unique Title 1 Elementary School situation
It should come as no surprise that the classroom academic and student management needs are two main differences between the two socioeconomic settings. In agreement with many of my colleagues, I believe the academic situation and disruptive classroom discipline are highly correlated in Title 1 elementary schools. It has been my experience that in the vast majority of low income schools the students’ academic gaps widen as they transition from grade level to grade level. As students lack the academic background and foundational knowledge from previous grade levels, they do not easily connect core lesson concepts. The result? Students have much difficulty engaging in the daily core lesson, and politely speaking, a sufficient number of students occupy their time with conduct that is not conducive to a productive classroom learning environment. Put simply, overall student learning is significantly diminished in classrooms as teachers frequently address inappropriate student conduct.
What is the recipe to correct Title 1 academic gaps and classroom management needs?
What is the standard university and district central office remedy to ‘fix’ the Title 1 elementary school situation? In addition to all the moving parts described at every elementary school, the powers that be and educational pundits opt to add more peripheral programming. More moving parts on top of moving parts, and these new additions usually lack program evaluation and are implemented without a proven track record of performance. In lieu of searching for specific and rudimentary solutions to students’ academic literacy and numeracy issues in our Title 1 School issues, the resignation solution in Title 1 Schools has long arrived in the mantra, “More is Better.”
A Simple Plan of Action based on ‘Praxis with Results’
Strip all curricular academic programming and implement foundational core curriculum. Do not implement additional classroom programming until the core academics are fixed. Special areas remain.
Implement Stop-Gap resources in both literacy and numeracy to accelerate students to grade level with high student and teacher accountability.
The classroom academic focus: basic skill mastery in math, reading and writing.
Instructional resources are implemented that offer grade level rigor and assessment standards.
Inappropriate student conduct and disruptive student behavior must be addressed – clearly stated classroom rules, consequences, relationship building training, de escalation techniques and effective classroom management teacher training must be a common standard schoolwide in all classrooms.
Personnel accountability – principals and classroom teachers are allotted a 3 to 4 year time period to significantly heighten Title 1 elementary school academic results.
It is long overdue to implement curriculum in academically struggling Title 1 schools based on performance – what actually works and not what ideologues want to work. Investing in ‘Praxis with Results’ methodology affords educational equity and future economic opportunities to our most needy children.