Low-income students and schools are getting better, according to this study. They’re just getting better so much more slowly than the wealthy students and schools. Both are getting better incrementally (both moving in the right direction), but each increment is bigger for the rich (acceleration favors the rich). We heard something similar from Michael Lach last week. The NSF CE21 program organized a workshop for all the CS10K efforts focused on teacher professional development. It was led by Iris Weiss who runs one of the largest education research evaluation companies. Michael was one of our invited speakers, on the issue of scaling. Michael has been involved in Chicago Public Schools for years, and just recently from a stint at the Department of Education. He told us about his efforts to improve reading, math, and science scores through a focus on teacher professional development. It really worked, for both the K-8 and high school levels. Both high-SES (socioeconomic status) and low-SES students improved compared to control groups. But the gap didn’t get smaller.
Despite public policy and institutional efforts such as need-blind financial aid and no-loan policies designed to attract and enroll more low-income students, such students are still more likely to wind up at a community college or noncompetitive four-year institution than at an elite university, whether a member of the Ivy League or a state flagship.The study, “Running in Place: Low-Income Students and the Dynamics of Higher Education Stratification,” will be published next month in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, but an abstract is already available on the journal’s website.“I think [selective colleges] very much want to bring in students who are low-income, for the most part,” said Michael N. Bastedo, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of higher education at the University of Michigan. “The problem is, over time, the distance between academic credentials for wealthy students and low-income students is getting longer and longer…. They’re no longer seen as competitive, and that’s despite the fact that low-income students are rising in their own academic achievement.