Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Pedro Noguera: Closing the Gap – Helping Students Achieve Success (Penn State)

What can be done to help students achieve success? NYU professor Pedro Noguera discusses education's most pressing problems.  Approximately 30 minutes.  November 2013.

Dr. Noguera is one of our most insightful and passionate researchers actively working to make schools more responsive to our children and families, and thus far more effective in producing high levels of achievement among African American children.

The following are among the numerous critical points Pedro Noguera touches on during this interview and discussion:

  • We frequently use poverty as an excuse for why we are poorly serving large numbers of children. There are examples of high performing and high poverty schools. We've studied what they do right. We should replicate those strategies if we are serious about getting better outcomes for children.
  • We have invested in prisons at far higher rates compared to education. This trend works against our national interest, and undermines our goal of supporting children.
  • We should be investing in early childhood education.
  • Schools should encourage the natural curiosity of children. This will help us get them excited about learning.
  • Schools are hyper-focused on discipline, and we're using forms of punishment that reinforce or exacerbate the problematic behaviors rather than change them.
  • We have to focus on engaging students and building character, not criticizing and tearing them down.
  • Schools can and should welcome parents into the school and the classroom in very constructive ways.
  • Just because parents aren't formally educated doesn't mean they don't affirmatively support high levels of achievement.
  • Kids thrive best when they have supportive, nurturing relationships with caring adults... who genuinely want to engage with them. Children tend to be self-motivated under these conditions.
  • We have to routinely analyze and assess every school's strengths and weaknesses, and work on the weaknesses. Too often we use assessments as weapons against teachers and students, and not enough as a tool for targeting enhanced supervision, support and instruction when and where needed.
  • Expecting better outcomes, understanding and responding to the complexity of challenges facing teachers and schools, and directing our resources to support improvements are all key ingredients to succesful improvement efforts.
  • The work of creating high quality schools is complex, and so must our policy proposals be if they are going to be useful.
  • Most parents want their children to do well, even when they don't know exactly what supports or detracts from that goal. We have to remind parents how they can help their children to be successful.

I'd also encourage all who are interested to visit the companion webpage for this interview for additional interesting discussion and resources.

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