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Question for Teachers
Old 06-22-2011, 01:32 PM   #1
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Question for Teachers

How much of an impact does school quality have on kids? Lets say there's a really good school and a mediocre one, will kids perform the same in both of schools or perform better in the better school? I'm not comparing good to an inner city school... just a mediocre one.

If school quality is not a defining factor, what are other important factors?

Thanks from father of 2.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:43 PM   #2
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How much of an impact does school quality have on kids? Lets say there's a really good school and a mediocre one, will kids perform the same in both of schools or perform better in the better school? I'm not comparing good to an inner city school... just a mediocre one.

If school quality is not a defining factor, what are other important factors?

Thanks from father of 2.
I am not and never been a teacher, but I have 2 grown sons and I attended 2 high schools and 2 universities. Both high schools were attended by mostly upper middle class students, and both universities too.

But there were huge differences in teaching quality, and even more importantly in how serious the other students were and what sort of attitudes and pressures they brought to bear on me.

IMO, always go for the best in education, if you can. Best can be variously defined, but in grades 1-12 it's defined by what sort of universities graduates go to, how many girls show up pregnant, how much drugs and crime may be around, if your kids' friends put pressure on them to be better students and more straight arrows or to be bigger screwups, how polite or disrespectful the students are to adults, etc.


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Old 06-22-2011, 02:11 PM   #3
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High expectations.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:22 PM   #4
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How much of an impact does school quality have on kids? Lets say there's a really good school and a mediocre one, will kids perform the same in both of schools or perform better in the better school? I'm not comparing good to an inner city school... just a mediocre one.

If school quality is not a defining factor, what are other important factors?

Thanks from father of 2.

First, I am not a teacher.... but I will ask anyhow...

How are you defining a 'really good school' and a 'mediocre school'?


The question could be about the actual buildings.... if so, I would say that does not make a difference...

It could be teachers... then of couse it makes a difference...

It could be other students and attitudes and etc. etc.... again, I think it makes a difference...
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:40 PM   #5
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First, I am not a teacher.... but I will ask anyhow...

How are you defining a 'really good school' and a 'mediocre school'?

.
Not a teacher here either, although I am married to a retired teacher.

Good point TP.

I suppose we could assume "school quality" per the guidelines used by ranking agencies such as test scores, percent graduating on time, drop out rate, percent going on to college, etc. But there is probably more to it than that. And I'm sure that what is "good" for one student may not be as "good" for another.

Not knowing how things might turn out either way, I'd pick a top ranked school over a mediocre school for my child any day, all other things being equal.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:08 PM   #6
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In CA, there's this score system called api (academic performance index), which is a state wide standard scoring system. I usually go by this number to compare schools because I think it's the only meaningful comparison. When I say really good school, it's the ones with top 5% api scores and mediocre are ones within top 20% range.

I graduated from mediocre school and my wife went to really good one. We talked about the quality of teachers/students, expectations, etc but it seemed that the main driving force is the students themselves. Of course, if you go to poor school (50% or below), there will be low expectation so students themselves might have lower drive to succeed, however, main driver behind for schools that are mediocre and above seems to be students themselves.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:12 PM   #7
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I'm trying to imagine a practical application for this question.

Let's say that the Gates Foundation and the Milliken Foundation spend a couple gazillion dollars researching the question and determine that there is indeed no difference between the two hypothetical schools. Thousands of disbelieving skeptics are shocked when they reproduce the study results in peer-reviewed journals. Even Scott (Dilbert) Adams agrees in his blog that school quality makes no difference on student performance.

Now go try that on the other parent of your two kids:
"Well, sure, honey, it's a mediocre school compared to this other school, but our kids will do just as well in either one. No worries!"

Is there a "Plan B" to send the kids back to the better school for a performance comparison? Or are you trying to decide whether to spend up for AP courses, Kumon, Sylvan, or even a private school?

I'll be right back as soon as I refill my popcorn bowl...
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:38 PM   #8
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In CA, there's this score system called api (academic performance index), which is a state wide standard scoring system. I usually go by this number to compare schools because I think it's the only meaningful comparison. When I say really good school, it's the ones with top 5% api scores and mediocre are ones within top 20% range.

I graduated from mediocre school and my wife went to really good one. We talked about the quality of teachers/students, expectations, etc but it seemed that the main driving force is the students themselves. Of course, if you go to poor school (50% or below), there will be low expectation so students themselves might have lower drive to succeed, however, main driver behind for schools that are mediocre and above seems to be students themselves.

Then you answered your question.... the mediocre school is not as good as the good school.... now, will a single person actually get a better education... I am not sure.... if a person is smart and determined to learn I do not think a 'bad' school will hinder learning... but, the grade of the school seems to already take into account the teachers and courses offered...
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:48 PM   #9
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Not a teacher, but DW is and we have had lots of conversations about education. IMHO, it is not so much the school as the parents. DD teaches in a private school, with lots of parental involvement. There is a clear difference in the education of the children. When you have parents that say 'My kids need to be challenged more!' as opposed to 'There is too much homework and you work the kids too hare', it makes a huge difference. Even in the inner city school kids can get a good education if the parents are involved. Admittedly it is easier in the quality school, but there are lots of examples of those that have succeeded.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:16 PM   #10
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.......... IMHO, it is not so much the school as the parents..............
+1. My grandmother, mother, sister and DW are / were teachers. My observation is that the value that the parents put on education and their own contribution to the kid's overall education make all the difference in the world. Families with no books on their shelves at home have kids that are poor readers.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:36 PM   #11
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Nords - Of course there is no way to test this hypothesis as no parents will do this test. Well, maybe there is but it won't be us. My original question was what drives kids to do well in school. Is it the school themselves or any other factors? My point of view was shared and would like to hear other teachers/parents point of view, that's all.

Rustic - Yeah, I hear that a lot too. Parents involvement very important. But you know, I look at my parents and my in-laws and they never set any kind of high expectations or went to any parent teacher conference. My wife and I both graduated with above 4.0 gpa though (not bragging but stating for argument sake). Well, maybe they never said anything b/c we were doing ok in school but we didn't have feel any kind of expectations from our parents. Oh~~~ actually, I did feel expectation b/c I was competing with my friends. My wife, on the other hand, was just a driven person so there was expectation from within. Hmm... expectation is good but it can come from different sources...
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:01 PM   #12
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It's not just expectations of the parents. Do parents care? or do they take the attitude 'It's the school's problem'. Were you allowed to do or not do you homework? Was going to college just a given, or did your parents really not care?

In our family, going to college is what you were expected to do after high school. One of my mother's favorite statements was ' You may be the dumbest kids in the class, but you will be the best behaved dumbest kids!. And, there is always exceptions, however, I'll bet every teacher that does chime in here will tell you parent involvement is a key. Maybe not the only on, but IMHO, one of the most important.
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:04 PM   #13
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Nords - Of course there is no way to test this hypothesis as no parents will do this test. Well, maybe there is but it won't be us. My original question was what drives kids to do well in school. Is it the school themselves or any other factors? My point of view was shared and would like to hear other teachers/parents point of view, that's all.
There is lots of social science research on this. People have differing attitudes toward SS research but overall it seems to suggest that peers are a huge influence on children, and in the US at least often a larger influence than parents are once the kids are in school. My parentsí main desire was that I stay out trouble with the law, and didnít bother them too much. But the other kids in my 2nd school, they were seriously motivated and real achievers. This is what gave me the idea to try harder.

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Old 06-22-2011, 06:47 PM   #14
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The proposition that positive involvement by parents is helpful to student success seems fairly obvious. After all, at the extreme, some parents chose to home school and their children typically have educational outcomes that compare favorably to traditionally schooled children.

But not all parents are equipped to home school or even to be a positive influence on their children's education. And in today's world the existence of computers and modern science lab and vocational shop equipment is essential. We need well equiped schools with highly competent staff.

Sometimes we have these things and sometimes we don't.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:20 PM   #15
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The proposition that positive involvement by parents is helpful to student success seems fairly obvious. After all, at the extreme, some parents chose to home school and their children typically have educational outcomes that compare favorably to traditionally schooled children.
This.

The "good schools" are typically those with high parental involvement to begin with. At the lower performing schools, almost none.

There's a very high correlation there.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:32 PM   #16
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This.

The "good schools" are typically those with high parental involvement to begin with. At the lower performing schools, almost none.

There's a very high correlation there.
I see. Well then, based on your analysis we seem to have an answer.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:42 PM   #17
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I am a teacher

I have been teaching for over 30 years and can honestly say that the students who seem to be successful are those who have internalized the value of a good work ethic. I have worked with at risk kids, slow learners, advanced placement students you name it. In all areas I have seen students come from the most dysfunctional homes yet do well because they valued the fact that someone was not trying to con them when they promised them that hard work pays off. In other situations, I have seen affluent families bail out their kids over and over again thinking they were helping them. The poor kids never learned the value of consequences and were always trying to game the system. Of course I have seen the opposite in both categories. I often run into former students and if they were kind, hardworking, not necessarily smart, they turned out well. If they were nasty students they rarely became well adjusted adults. So.....how do you define success for your kids?
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Old 06-22-2011, 08:32 PM   #18
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How much of an impact does school quality have on kids? Lets say there's a really good school and a mediocre one, will kids perform the same in both of schools or perform better in the better school? I'm not comparing good to an inner city school... just a mediocre one.
If school quality is not a defining factor, what are other important factors?
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My original question was what drives kids to do well in school. Is it the school themselves or any other factors? My point of view was shared and would like to hear other teachers/parents point of view, that's all.
I dunno... maybe it's just me, but re-reading these two posts they still seem like two completely different questions. To me the first question read "Which school/neighborhood should we choose?" and the second seems to be "How do we motivate our kid?"

You probably didn't know this, but you've brought up a topic that gets its fair share of discussion-board electrons. It frequently deteriorates into a reciprocated diatribe over public vs private schooling or upper/middle/lower class warfare. Then it gets nasty & political and the moderators shut it down.

But I agree that the student's motivation is internal. The kids either eventually emulate their parents' values ("No homework, no liberty!") or they find a mentor somewhere else... usually the school.

Judith Harris' "The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do" would have us believe that it's the neighborhood's other adults and role models influencing our kids far more than we do. One of our local educators made a big impression on our daughter by telling her "Sit with the smart kids!" Now that gets her invited to a lot of great study groups.

I don't know if it's this way in every school system, but in our neighborhood's high school the teachers get paid more for having advanced credentials & certifications (like a master's degree). They also get paid more for teaching AP courses and for administering/grading the AP exams. That's a pretty powerful motivator, too, and their recruiting suckered inspired our daughter to sign up for a lot of AP courses.
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Old 06-22-2011, 09:47 PM   #19
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Agree with arebelspy and youbet. I've been a prof for 25+ years, but have done some teaching in community music schools and such of younger kids, and whatever the parents put in is 90% of what they get out.
Looking back on my own education K-12, it was 100% powered by my parents. The things they encouraged me to do for "fun" were educational as well. School consisted largely of wondering why nobody else was doing their homework, combined with a few minutes of sheer terror at times in trig. (which thank goodness I had my father to actually teach to me, since school wasn't providing anything useful). And this was a "good" public school!
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:26 PM   #20
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A lot of great comments above that I don't need to repeat. One simple statistic I learned that is also very powerful in a childs education. 90% of all kids do what their friends do. If that means studying, doing homework, and setting a goal for the honor roll, that is great. If it means smoking dope while listening to The Doors on the iPod, probably not so good for their education.
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