Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Motivated Students with High Expectations

As the critics and pundits - and billionaire do-gooders - continue to crow about how to fix failing schools, there are some interesting ideas floating around about the importance of the students in the equation. Several months ago, Robert Samuelson pointed out that the one factor that is notoriously missing in discussions of education reforms is the hard reality of "student motivation." Clearly, there can be no more significant factor in a child's educational success than a child who is simply determined to succeed.

Interestingly, some research on the success of charter schools reveals that KIPP charter schools have a drop-out rate of 60%. Clearly, the forty percent who remain are going to represent the most motivated students who are going to accept the challenge of the intense rigor as they attempt to catch up from potentially years of neglected education. Granted, those percentages must correct for kids who move out of the district - but that can't be many.

This is not to exclude the significance of socioeconomic status. For, it is indisputable that schools designated as "failing" in this country are literally never found in affluent areas. And, while occasionally some high performing schools are in poor areas, these are most often schools that have undergone some sort of charter reformation that mandates student achievement. Keep in mind that Finland - the darling of the education reformers lately - has a child poverty rate of 2%. So, poverty matters and student motivation and high expectations matter.

Maybe more than anything else.

No comments: