iNACOL - May 2014 Leadership Webinar - Closing the "Advanced Achievement Gap"


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iNACOL | May 14, 2014 | Webinar: Closing the "Advanced Achievement Gap"

Nationally, many students of color and students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds perform among the top 25 percent of all students in reading and math at the beginning of high school. Many of them, however, leave high school with lower college success predictors than their high-achieving white and more advantaged peers. Schools can take action to better serve these students. To prepare students for college and career, high schools must balance their attention carefully, ensuring that low-achievers catch up and high-achievers don't lose ground. In this webinar, Christina Theokas and Marni Bromberg of the Education Trust will share research and insight into how to better serve this group.

Personalized blended and online courses can provide powerful delivery systems to increase access and equity for underserved students. Educators and school leaders need to ensure students have access to high-quality new learning opportunities. The Education Trust's research has major implications for how to increase educational opportunities and provide equity. This webinar will include a real world example of how to use blended and online learning to close the achievement gap for high-achieving poor and minority students.


- Christina Theokas, Director of Research, Education Trust
- Marni Bromberg, Research Associate, Education Trust
- Debbie Vincent, Instructional Technology Curriculum Specialist, Alief ISD (Houston, TX)

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  • Differences are not significant.
  • Interestingly, initially high-achieving low-SES take calculus at a higher rate than students in the 2nd quartile of SES.
  • iNACOL - May 2014 Leadership Webinar - Closing the "Advanced Achievement Gap"

    1. 1. Closing the “Advanced Achievement Gap”: How Educators Can Help High- Achieving Low-Income and Minority Youth Stay On Track May 14, 2014
    2. 2. Webinar Format • Feel free to type questions in the chat box • The webinar is being recorded and archived. Link will be emailed out to you within 2 days after the webinar • Also posted in iNACOL Member Forum
    3. 3. Presenters • Christina Theokas, Director of Research, The Education Trust • Marni Bromberg, Research Associate, The Education Trust • Debbie Vincent, Instructional Technology Curriculum Specialist, Alief ISD, Houston, TX • Moderator: Susan Patrick, President & CEO, iNACOL
    4. 4. Falling Out of the Lead Tracking High-Achievers Through High School and Beyond Marni Bromberg & Christina Theokas, The Education Trust
    5. 5. The Education Trust Mission The Education Trust works for the high academic achievement of all students, pre-kindergarten through college. Our goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people-- especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino, or American Indian--to lives on the margins of the American mainstream.
    6. 6. Agenda • Examine new research exploring the trajectories of initially high-achieving students as they progress through high school and into adulthood. • React to advice from students about how to best serve high-achieving students. • Explore the practices of a high school that is attaining impressive outcomes with an academically diverse student population. • Reflect on current challenges and practice, and brainstorm actions to help high-achieving students of color and low- SES students stay on track.
    7. 7. Why high-achievers? We will never close the achievement gap if we only pursue a bring-the-bottom-up strategy. We need to focus on equity across the achievement spectrum.
    8. 8. Who are we studying? • Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) • Students were first interviewed as sophomores in 2002 and have been followed periodically through 2012. • Data are representative of roughly 2.5 million high school students. • Some Definitions: • High-achieving students: Those who scored in the top quartile on a math and reading assessment in 10th grade • Socioeconomic status (SES): A Measure of multiple background characteristics, including parental income, parental education, and parental occupational status • High-SES: Highest quartile of the SES distribution • Low-SES: Lowest quartile of the SES distribution
    9. 9. At the Starting Gate
    10. 10. Poll 1 • In your school/district or a school/district you know of, about what percent of students of color do you think are high-achieving? A. 0-10% B. 11-30% C. 31-50% D. 51-100% E. Not Sure Choose an option from the drop-down menu
    11. 11. If students were coming into high school with identical preparation, we would see 25% of each group performing in the top quartile of achievers. But instead, we see this: Represen ts 18,760 students Represe nts 42,490 student s Represen ts 538,370 studentsRepresen ts 33,070 students In number, there are more high- achieving Latino students than Asian students.
    12. 12. There are similar inequities by socioeconomic status. Represe nts 60,300 student s Represe nts 119,820 student s Represe nts 181,980 student s Represe nts 292,320 student s
    13. 13. Course-Taking in High School
    14. 14. Initially High-Achieving Students of Color: Black, white, and Hispanic students are about as likely to reach a course beyond Algebra II and calculus.
    15. 15. Initially High-Achieving Low-SES Students: Low-SES students are significantly less likely to reach calculus than similarly performing high SES students.
    16. 16. Results are similar for science course-taking, AP/IB course- taking, and the percent of students completing an academic concentration.
    17. 17. AP Outcomes
    18. 18. High-achieving students of color and low-SES students pass a smaller share of the AP tests they take than high- achieving white and high-SES students.
    19. 19. Poll 2: Type a response in the chat box: Why do you think high-achieving students of color are passing fewer of the AP exams they take compared to white students?
    20. 20. What Lies Beneath the Numbers: Student Experiences
    21. 21. We interviewed 5 recent high school graduates who participated in the Young Scholars Program. • The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation selects about 60 scholars annually who have demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to helping others. • Scholars are selected in 8th grade • Average family income of selected students is about $25,000 • Once accepted, scholars receive substantial guidance and scholarship from the foundation • The young adults we spoke to attended different schools throughout the country, and their experiences differed substantially. Reflecting on their high school experiences, they offered advice for how educators can support high-achieving low-income students like themselves.
    22. 22. Course quality varied tremendously among the students we spoke to, with some accessing consistently high-quality courses and others rarely experiencing the type of instruction that would push them to grow academically. “I took a lot of AP courses, but even my regular courses were rigorous.” “My calculus class wasn’t really calculus.” “Crossword puzzles made up 60 percent of our grade, and exams only made up 10.”
    23. 23. Some students felt that teachers were always available to help them succeed, whereas others felt their teachers were “there because they had to be.” “I had so many teachers go above the call of duty to help me.” “Getting the support was great. From what I hear, you don’t get that support in other schools.” “When teachers don’t take the initiative to explain things to students or help them learn it, students don’t feel like they can turn to their teachers for that type of help.”
    24. 24. Despite their high level of incoming preparation, the students received different levels of support from their schools to realize their college dreams. “(The school) gave us a college counselor who we start working with in 11th grade…They make it a requirement that we finish our applications in November, so that we only have to worry about scholarships and financial aid for the rest of the year.” “My school didn’t really tell us what we needed to do in order to apply (to college), so a lot of students felt overwhelmed.”
    25. 25. So what can educators do? • Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS), Columbus, Ohio • Grades 9-12, 606 students CAHS Ohio 65% African American 17% African American 26% White 74% White 61% Low- Income 45% Low- Income 98% Graduation Rate 80% Graduation Rate Source: Ohio Department of Education, 2011 data
    26. 26. “Start early:” Offer opportunities in high school that expose students to college-level content and expectations. • How it looks at CAHS: • Summer work prior to the freshmen year: Students must read three novels and compose a draft essay in response to their reading. • Rigorous freshmen-level humanities course, which is “really intense,” according to a recent graduate. • Commitment to acceleration in 9th grade • “Our greatest struggle is 9th grade. By 11th grade, they’re ready.” –Principal Wells • Only honors courses, no remedial or general coursework • 17 Advanced placement courses as well as the IB program. All students have to take AP or IB English in their junior year to ensure at least one authentic college-level experience
    27. 27. “My advisor was probably the single greatest resource I had at the time:” Provide students with quality mentorship, particularly during the college search and application process. • How it looks at CAHS: • Intensive support during 9th grade year: All staff tend to freshmen 1 day a week, while other students are at internships. During this time, freshmen participate in advisory and 2 academic assistance courses. • “In AP Chemistry, I was struggling so much…I was able to talk to my first year chemistry teacher from 9th grade. He stayed after school multiple times and worked around my complicated schedule and explained things to me in a way I understood.” –CAHS graduate • “My school counselor was priceless…She was so helpful finding resources and helping with financial stuff.”
    28. 28. “What holds back a lot of students is people tell them ‘No:’” Communicate positive messages to students about their future possibilities, and help them identify solutions to potential barriers that stand in the way of their postsecondary dreams. • How it looks at CAHS (according to a student): • Talking to students about taking a chance and helping them access resources: • “A lot of high-achieving students shy away from applying for opportunities because of the cost.” • “I have a friend whose parents wanted her to stay in-state, but she wanted to go to an out-of-state private school. (CAHS) told her to apply even though she didn’t have the money, and (the college) gave her a scholarship.”
    29. 29. Postsecondary Outcomes
    30. 30. Initially high-achieving students of color: Black and Hispanic students are less likely to attend a selective 4-year institution than white students.
    31. 31. Initially high-achieving low-SES students: Low-SES students are less likely than high-SES students to attend postsecondary school, enroll in a 4-year institution, or attend a selective college.
    32. 32. Charting a Course Forward
    33. 33. As educators, how can we ensure that students of color and low-SES students aren’t falling out of the lead? • In an online context, what do you believe are the challenges that lead to inequitable outcomes? • In your position or role, what actions are you/can you take to ensure that high-achieving students receive challenging instruction and support? • Does your school/district have a system to identify high achieving students and monitor predictors of postsecondary readiness and success for them?
    34. 34. Want to learn more? • Check out the full report or educator brief: • Marni Bromberg : • Christina Theokas: • Visit • Come to The Education Trust Conference. This year’s conference is on November 13-14 in Baltimore at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel. Register now: e
    35. 35. Debbie Vincent Instructional Technology Curriculum Specialist
    36. 36. Demographic Information • Is a TEA Recognized school district • Located in Southwest Houston • Encompasses 36.6 square miles • 45,000 student enrollment • More than 80 languages and dialects are spoken • 45 campuses, 6 High Schools • 89% Economically Disadvantage student population
    37. 37. Alief’s Long Range Technology Plan • Continue to provide campus level Distance Learning Site Coordinators and Lab Facilitators to enroll and support students in virtual courses. • Continue to ensure rigorous content within distance learning courses that support the development of career and college ready skills. • Utilize district funding to ensure that students have access to distance learning courses.
    38. 38. # of Students Served through Distance Learning 294 940 115 379 223** 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 **2013-14 does not reflect summer enrollment
    39. 39. 83% 86% 92% 96% 75% 80% 85% 90% 95% 100% 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Success Rate of Students Taking Distance Learning Courses
    40. 40. # of Dual Credits Earned 29 146 343 269** 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 **2013-14 does not reflect summer enrollment
    41. 41. Site Coordinators • Advertise distance learning opportunities • Identify prospective distance learning candidates • Meet with DL candidates to review course syllabi • Meet monthly with IT Curriculum Specialist • Monitor student progress
    42. 42. Facilitators • Complete an online facilitator training course • Meet with DL student once a week • Complete Distance Learning contact log • Contact course instructors • Connect students with resources • Report student progress to IT Curriculum Specialist every 2 weeks
    43. 43. Distance Learning Candidate • Demonstrates prior academic success • Completes distance learning application • Provides short essay why taking an online course will help them reach their graduation goals • Completes Texas Virtual School Network “ClueIn” orientation program • Completes Dual Credit registration process • Meets with facilitator weekly
    44. 44. Blended Learning • Developed blended CTE Principles of Information Technology course • Developing Business Information Management course • Offered to 9th graders • Exposes students to scaffold, rigorous digital environment
    45. 45. Resources & Contact • Distance Learning @ •
    46. 46. Q&A
    47. 47. • Palm Springs, CA • Nov. 4-7, 2014 • Registration open now at • Over 2,200 experts, educators and thought leaders in the field of online and blended learning and competency based education
    48. 48. Upcoming Webinars • Teacher Talk: How Do Teachers Implement Blended Learning In The Classroom? – Thursday, May 15 at 6pm EST • Research In Review: Safe and Supportive Online Learning Environments for K-12 LGBT Students – Tuesday, May 20 at 3pm EST. • Register at
    49. 49. Thank you!