I appreciated Vicki Madden’s recent op-ed piece, “Why Poor Students Struggle,” in the New York Times. Her argument is nothing new — that the achievement gap does not explain why poor students have low college graduation rates (see “Who Gets to Graduate,” by Paul Tough). For Ms. Madden, an instructional coach and former teacher, the issue is social and emotional. It’s an issue of belonging.
But the article did get me thinking: What’s the role of a high school, given limited time and resources? Let’s say that a student is poor and enters high school several years below grade level. What’s the best approach?
If you’re a school, what do you do with those four years?
“As the income gap widens and hardens, changing class means a bigger difference between where you came from and where you are going. Teachers like me can help prepare students academically for college work. College counselors can help with the choices, the federal financial aid application and all the bureaucratic details. But how can we help our students prepare for the tug of war in their souls?.”