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School successes prove demography isn't destiny

Esther J. Cepeda on

Stanford Graduate School of Education professor Sean Reardon studied test scores for students in third through eighth grade at 11,000 school districts across the country. He actually found that academic growth rates in many low-income school districts outpaced more affluent ones.

"There are many relatively high-poverty school districts where students appear to be learning at a faster rate than kids in other, less poor districts," Reardon said, in a Stanford blog post. "Poverty clearly does not determine the quality of a school system."

If we can figure out what these successful-despite-high-poverty schools are doing, it could be potentially game-changing.

Lastly, my favorite education news comes from France, where the education chief recently announced he is banning all mobile phone use in schools for students under 15.

Hallelujah!

Smartphones and other electronics (including, in many instances, school-issued Chromebooks) can be a real and devastating source of student distraction and misuse in the classroom.

The French policy comes on the heels of a flurry of op-eds regarding studies showing that students who use laptops to take notes during class in college demonstrate poorer understanding of course materials than those who take notes by hand.

 

Hey, the titans of Silicon Valley tend to send their kids to schools where instruction is delivered without the aid of Chromebooks, iPads or phones -- they want their children to learn to concentrate, problem-solve and make decisions through hands-on activities and brain-expanding work like sustained reading and writing, on paper.

My New Year's wish is that electronics-free schools become the next big trend in education.

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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