poverty and test scores
Courtesy of NY Times

Is there any correlation between the income of one’s parents and the test scores of their children? It certainly seems so.

How can one educate the bottom which need more interaction and exposure, without dulling the progress of those higher incomes who also need challenges?

The answer is amazingly simple. Create an 11:1 student teacher ratio in all schools where the free lunch levels are over 50%. Then sort those classes based on test scores so each group of 11 are closely aligned. If space is at premium, these classes don’t have to be in separate rooms. One can have 3 classes in one room, as long as one teacher is responsible for no more than 11 students.

The low ratio is to make teaching personable and accountable, primarily for the student. A student can hide in a large class, underperforming without consequence. But that is very difficult to do in a one-on-one environment. The opposite takes place. When you look bad in front of one’s peers and one’s teacher who one likes, you try hard to please them…

Low income people live in a neighborhood or environment where education is not an approved concept. It takes a counter force to stop a prevailing force from continuing forward. Simply talking at children from these neighborhoods and testing them, only reinforces their preconceived notion that education is someone else’s problem, not theirs. But having someone who is pretty cool, find out what is holding them back, and giving them those tools, then inspiring confidence in them, is what good teaching is all about.

It takes one to know one in order to do that. No one can know everyone in a large class. But, one can get to know 11 people very well, especially over the course of a full summer….

If we just move to an 11:1 ratio in all schools over 50% free lunch, we will get the improvement we seek in lower incomes. They have further to go; they need more coaching…

As a benefit, those wealthier top students in this system, can move as forward and as fast as they are able. No redoing exercises from 5 years back… Since they seem to be doing fine in larger classrooms relative to the rest of the world, it seems they don’t need the extra expense that an 11:1 student teacher ratio will require….

Education is an easy fix. It’s about people, and the only reason it is so hard to get enacted, is that the corporations who lobby our legislators, don’t like that… They think money in their pockets is far more important….