Student Achievement Success

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Running head: Student Achievement Success
Student Achievement Success
Johanna Billingsley
English Composition II
Mr. Randy Baker
November 5, 2009
All students deserve the opportunity to be successful in school. Improving the academic learning of students in schools is a major concern of American education. Large amounts of resources are used each year to help close the achievement gap and level the playing field for students in our educational system. Without academic success, this country’s population will be ill equipped to fully participate in the workforce and society at-large. This creates terrifying implications for our democracy, economy, and future generations. The U.S Department of Education defines “student achievement” as a students’ success in an academic discipline, an exhibited level of competency on some type of standardized test, or grade point average (2004, p. 9). Researchers have studied the factors that are directly linked to student achievement in an ongoing effort to develop approaches for improved academic achievement of students and aid in school reform. These links are studied in depth in the book Politics, Markets, and American Schools, by John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe. The results of this research found that student ability, school organization, and parental involvement are the most notable factors that contribute to student achievement. While the contributing factors work in tandem to promote student achievement, parent participation is the decisive influencing factor (1990, p.101). Chubb and Moe conclude that, “High performance schools spend nearly 20% more per pupil than low performance schools and have lower ratios of students to teachers. However, both high and low performance schools have about the same amounts of other resources, including same salaries for teachers and same number of enrollments” (1990, p. 99). Overall these changes indicate positive progress in reforming schools. However, student achievement does not show improvement as a result of these resources alone. Furthermore, assessment of student ability and achievement is an important part of our education system. According to Chubb and Moe, “When done well, assessment of student ability provides a critical tool for monitoring and encouraging individual student progress” (1990, p.116). In order to encourage this progress, researchers have determined that not only schools, but parents also play a vital role in student ability. The second factor that promotes student achievement is school organization. Major components of school organization and effectiveness include rigorous school goals, the leadership of principals and teachers, personnel, and practice. Effective schooling does not depend on one key element, but rather the sum of its parts. Chubb and Moe (1990) describe the primary characteristics of school organization in the following manner: The schools with the strongest increases in student achievement had an academic emphasis on measurable goals. Included in this is an index of highs school graduation requirements in the 5 major academic fields and a measure of the priority that the school attaches to academic excellence. When specific goals are set the gains in student achievement are five times greater than schools without specific goals. The second characteristic of performance is the indicators of leadership. This includes the principal’s motivation, and the esteem in which principals hold their teachers, including the principal’s dedication to teaching. The third characteristic of performance is the personnel. Personnel includes teacher professionalism; which subsumes teacher influence, efficacy, and absenteeism, and staff harmony; which includes teacher cooperation, teacher collegiality, and the principal’s vision. When any of these elements fail, the whole of the system fails, and student achievement gains falter. But, when these elements work together, it is a well–oiled...
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