Movin’ on up

Eighty-four percent of Americans — and 93 percent of those in the bottom quintile — earn more than their parents in inflation-adjusted dollars, concludes a new Pew report, Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility Across Generations.

Yet 43 percent of people who start in the bottom quintile end up there, notes Education Gadfly. Nearly three-quarters remain in the bottom 40 percent.

A black-white mobility achievement gap is present as well: Half of blacks who were raised on the wealth ladder’s bottom rung stay there as adults, compared to a third of whites. The “stickiness at the ends” phenomenon affects America’s wealthiest as well: Sixty-six percent of those with parents in the top quintile stayed among the elite (earning at least $164,000 a year). As Pew explains (and Charles Murray concurs), this “stickiness” is partially caused by marriage patterns. High earners are forming unions with others in their quintile, further bumping their family wealth and income.

For those raised at the bottom of the family income ladder, college provides a way up: Only 10 percent of college graduates — and 47 percent of those without a degree — end up at the bottom rung.

Online students fall behind, transfer

Colorado’s online K-12 students fall behind their former classmates and often quit virtual schools to go back to brick-and-mortar classrooms, reports EdNews Colorado. The state compensates schools based on enrollment in the fall, so students bring no funding to their old schools if they give up on virtual schooling after a few months.

According to an I-News/EdNews analysis, half of Colorado’s online students quit within a year. Most lose ground on reading and math scores.  (See snapshots of the state’s five largest online programs.)

Online schools produce three times as many dropouts as they do graduates. One of every eight online students drops out of school permanently – a rate four times the state average.

. . . most are not struggling academically when they leave their traditional schools. Among the 2,400 online students who had taken a state standardized reading test in a brick-and-motor school the year before, the analysis showed that more than half had scored proficient or better.

At Branson Online School, one of the state’s oldest online programs, students beat the statewide average in proficiency in reading and were six percentage points short in math.

(Assistant Superintendent Judith) Stokes said growth slowed when the school focused on ensuring families understood the online program before enrolling because, “If you’re looking for easy, it’s not us.”

Full-time online students are exceptionally mobile in Ohio, as well, writes Bill Tucker on Education Next. He worries if teen-agers understand what they’re getting into when they sign up for a virtual school.

 

Teachers move, kids stay at LA charters

Los Angeles charter school students are 80 percent less likely to switch schools than similar students at traditional public schools, concludes a study by Policy Analysis for California Education researchers at Berkeley. However, LA charter teachers are more likely to leave their school at year’s end, according to a companion study.

“While charter teachers are churning in and out of where they work, charter students and parents seem more loyal to their school choice,” said Luke Dauter, a Berkeley doctoral student in sociology and lead author of the study on student mobility, in a statement.

While teachers in charter secondary schools were considerably more likely to leave than comparable teachers at traditional schools, elementary charter teachers under 30 were less likely to leave.

Both studies looked at the time frame between 2002 and 2009, when the number of charter schools in Los Angeles tripled from 53 to 157 campuses, notes Ed Week.

At all schools, mobility is lower for Latino teachers and students at all schools and higher for African-American students, the study found. Blacks were likely to leave traditional schools for charters.

Transplanting Singapore math

Singapore Math works great in Singapore. But a Washington, D.C. school is struggling to .transplant a “math miracle,” reports the Washington Post.

Most D.C. elementary schools use Everyday Math, which left students with a poor grasp of number operations, says Nuhad Jamal, Bruce-Monroe’s instructional coach.  The “emphasis on games and conceptual understanding” was “a good fit for kids with strong fundamental skills, Jamal believed, but not for those with weak foundations.” So the school switched to Singapore Math, which teaches fewer concepts to mastery.

The District’s student population is highly mobile, but the Singapore curriculum builds carefully from year to year, making it more difficult for new arrivals in the upper elementary grades or at mid-year.

The school, where nearly 60 percent of the 400 students are Hispanic, uses a dual-language program. Classrooms have a mix of English- and Spanish-dominant students who split time between the two languages. But without Spanish versions of the Singapore textbooks, teachers had difficulty getting ideas across. . . .

Even in English, Singapore math does not come easily to many American teachers. Experts say it takes one to two years to really learn the system. The no-frills textbooks lack teacher editions and other aids that are part of U.S. math packages such as “Everyday Mathematics.” Singapore’s elementary instructors receive significantly more math than their U.S. counterparts, who are often generalists.

So far, Bruce-Monroe’s math scores are down.

Some 2,000 U.S. schools have tried Singapore Math, but no large district has adopted the curriculum, the Post reports. The fact that it requires elementary teachers to understand math well has to be a serious obstacle.

Update: A math teacher talks about learning how to teach Singapore Math on the Daily Riff.

College is the best mobility strategy

College is the best mobility strategy — but watch out for debt.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Community college transfers let elite colleges add a little socioeconomic diversity.

KIPP mobility matches nearby schools

KIPP middle schools take as many transfer students as nearby district schools, according to a Mathematica working paper (pdf). Furthermore, attrition rates for black males are lower than in neighboring schools, Mathematica found.

“KIPP’s success is not simply a mirage that is based on the results of a select number of high achievers who persist through 8th grade,” the researchers write.

A 2010 study by Mathematica found large achievement gains at KIPP schools, even when the scores of students who had left the schools were included, Inside School Research notes.

A Western Michigan study found high attrition for KIPP’s black males, charging that 40 percent of black male students leave between sixth and eighth grade.  The study compared two or three KIPP schools to entire school districts.

Mathematica compared individual KIPP schools to neighboring district schools. “Our data is showing that KIPP loses black males overall at a lower rate than the local district schools,” said Christina Clark Tuttle, a senior researcher.

Urban black male students often change schools, whether they attend a district or charter school, but are less likely to leave the district.

KIPP students are more likely to be black or Hispanic and have lower incomes than students in the surrounding school districts, Mathematica confirmed.