Last week, I listened to American Institutes for Research’s webinar “Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Students Who Are Academically Successful: Examining Academic Resilience Cross-Nationally”.
Maria Stephens and Ebru Erberber, Senior Researchers at American Institutes for Research, observed the discrepancies between marginalized students and their ability to thrive academically. They investigated the prevalence of “academic resilience” internationally as well as the factors influencing this success. Sean McComb, 2014 National Teacher of the Year, discussed the implications of their analysis and results. He suggested ways to increase academic achievement among those who are underprivileged.
Erberber claimed that it is the school’s initial responsibility to expose students to higher educational options and various fields of study. Academic success thereby stems from student aspiration and teacher encouragement.
McComb then stressed the importance of personalized learning and professional development.
Stephens, Erberber, and McComb offered valuable insight about inequities within and across education systems. They briefly discussed policy implementation, but did not fully engage in a conversation about potential practices that could reshape the education landscape, which disappointed me.
Socioeconomic status should not be a determinant of a child’s academic success, but all too often, it is. I believe it would have been beneficial to talk about educational policy in relation to their findings and analysis. We need more policies to make schools responsible for student outcomes and not just enrollment. This strategy would incentivize administrators and teachers to provide students with all of the information they need to reach their goals, whether it be to graduate high school, go immediately to the workforce, or attend a two or four-year college.
Being fully aware of these options has unfortunately become a privilege, but every student is entitled to understand their choices. We cannot bridge the achievement gap between socioeconomic classes without increased accountability and greater transparency between students, teachers, and administrators.
Hayley Nicholas, CER