Tag: Education and poverty

Low student performance is all about poverty

Diane Ravitch

By Alan Bean

The pioneer and perfecter of the current passion for evaluating teachers on the basis of student performance on standardized tests can be laid at the feet of Eric Hanushek, a Stanford professor.  Hanushek believes that bad teachers beget bad students.  Ergo, if you want successful students, fire bad teachers.

No one questions that good teachers are better than bad teachers; but is testing an effective way to tell the difference.  As Diane Ravitch explains below, good teachers who work in poor schools test badly.  Since schools in affluent areas have fewer disciplinary problems and higher rates of student achievement, teachers find them desirable.  Poor schools get teachers with an unusually keen sense of mission or, more often, teachers who were passed over by principals in more affluent schools.

Hanushek is celebrated because he ignores poverty.  You can’t improve public education by throwing money at the problem, he believes.  Students don’t do badly because they come from poor neighborhoods; they perform badly because they have bad teachers.  Fire the worst 10% of any given faculty and the achievement gap between poor and affluent kids disappears. (more…)