So our research team met this morning to discuss some data that Cindy, our program evaluator, has been analyzing. One critical question is “how do we measure our children’s likelihood of growing up to achieve economic self-sufficiency?” We know there are lots of imperfect predictors for graduating from high school (or dropping out) as well as lots of intermediate predictors that take the form of: success in X in 3rd grade leads to success in Y in 6th grade. Well I run across these occasionally so I thought this would be as good a place as any to store them.
Early Ed Watch has a post up discussing a Brookings report on the use of 8th grade algebra in high-poverty schools. Apparently, some schools are placing more (or even all) of their kids in 8th grade algebra classes, even if they have only a second grade math level. That can bring down the performance of all the kids in those classes. So how do you really prepare kids for 8th grade algebra? You make them proficient in “whole number operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) by 4th grade.”
By aligning pre-K programs with elementary curricula, we can help get more of those kids up to speed and more of them graduating high school. Slide 47 on this power point shows that the difference in 7th Grade math grades is the 7th largest gap between high school graduates and drop outs. The previous slide finds that differences in math between graduates and dropouts are statistically significant even in kindergarten. (Wish the slides were better sourced, but they are not.)
So how can we measure “whole number operations” in 4th grade? Is that what the state standardized tests are looking for?
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I attended a Youth Services Roundtable today, hosted by the Mayor’s Office and organized by Monroe Nichols (who was kind enough to make sure everyone knew we were classmates at TU). A presenter from Arbor Education & Training (for-profit contractor for workforce and youth programs, among other things) discussed his collaboration in New York City on a project to coordinate youth programs at a youth “one-stop” called The Door.
Following the presentation, the group did a pretty typical exercise: asset mapping of our respective agencies and the community, identified service gaps in the community, and talked a bit about what to do next vis a vis prioritization and working groups.
CAP was surprisingly oft-discussed by the other participants. (This surprised me since we don’t really do a lot of “youth” programs, with the possible exceptions of OHLAP and early childhood for children of teen moms.) I heard lots of comments about how critical they feel early childhood is to their work, and they identified CAP as a community asset. (For my part, I offered that CAP could provide the assets of physical space – in our sites – and access to knowledge – through our many collaborations with Harvard, etc.) Basically, youth service providers could be more far more successful given children who went through a high quality early childhood program and whose parents learned at an early age to get involved.
Promisingly, that idea lines up really well with our concepts of the vertical and horizontal grids. These agencies are talking about the vertical grid when they say that they are concerned about where they are receiving their kids from, and where they are sending those kids off to. We just happen to be at the base of that “grid” with our early childhood programs. And when participants talk about the array of services youth come into contact with, they are talking about what we at TI call the horizontal grid. (I made sure to point this out.) I say this is promising because it means that potential partners out there in Tulsa are actively worrying about the same concepts that we are, they just haven’t named them. These groups, then, are latent participants in the Tulsa Initiative – we just have to show it to them.
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