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Archive for February 21st, 2009

A recent post on Crooked Timber examines school improvement and the achievement gap.  While the post includes a number of good points, I have to disagree with the following statement:

For a lot of schools this is very likely indeed right now, because the economic crisis will result in more kids being more disadvantaged, and more at (sic) who are quite disadvantaged becoming very disadvantaged. Make sure that you and your staff understand something about the limits of the effects of schooling on achievement, even as you try to improve those effects.

The author seems to argue that if a middle class family falls into poverty, the children of that family will stop reaping the rewards of their parents’ education.  While social class has an effect on student achievement, that affect is likely mediated by cultural factors such as education and parental class background.  Despite changing economic conditions these cultural factors are likely to remain stable for a particular student.  On the other hand, achievement likely will be affected for those at the very bottom for whom the change is more likely to be from being able to afford meals to not being able to afford meals.

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