How can you improve the intelligence scores of inner city school children from disadvantaged homes?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This one will not be easy.  There are many elements in the original question that are begging to be addressed.  I think that the end result is that the responses you get here can only hope to continue the discussion and debate and not even come close to resolving it.

The first issue that has to be addressed is the idea of "intelligence scores."  The very wording seems to indicate something akin to the Jensen thesis of the late 1960s that measures such as President Johnson's War on Poverty were doomed to fail because "the children they had been intended to help had relatively low IQs."  I think that there might be a danger to suggest that the intelligence levels of inner city school children from disadvantaged homes are fundamentally different than their wealthy counterparts.  The logical connection being made between inner city school students' levels of intelligence and this being low might be something that can be debated.  In this debate would have to be the issue of the cultural bias of testing.  I think that there is enough research to at least present a case that the manner of testing on traditional intelligence tests displays some evidence of cultural bias, a bias that exists on race, gender, and class levels.  This has to be examined when we make the argument that scores of children in one area need improvement.  Perhaps, the manner of evaluation and assessment could stand some modification even before the individuals that have been judged in a biased manner against it.  Within this asks the question of whether individuals should be investing time and energy seeking to improve scores on a manner of assessment that can be seen as faulty or not effective.

If the question is extrapolated into how one can improve the test scores of children in inner city school areas, here again, the logical connection between inner cities, disadvantaged homes, and poor test scores have to be scrutinized.  While there might be some validity to it, I am not entirely certain it serves public interest and certainly policy decision making to make the link that low test scores exist in certain areas.  Each particular batch of scores that need improvement need to be studied in their own realm and solutions that exist must be pertinent to that school climate and community of learners.  I think that more danger is done to presume that "these kids are low on testing" while "these kids are not."  The bar should be raised for all of our children, regardless of locality, condition, and being. 

In the end, I think that this becomes any part of the formula on how to raise student achievement.  The bar has to be set high so that all kids can see progress and growth.  The driving force should not be as much to "raise scores," but rather develop a formula of achievement in which learning is driven by both process and product, suggesting that there is a realm of scholarship towards which all learners should aspire in understanding the complexities of learning and acquisition of knowledge.  In this, we are not so chained to the idea of "product," such as "improve intelligence scores," but rather we embrace a realm in which learning is seen as the exploration of all the multitude of points between "A" and "B" and not merely getting from "A" to "B."

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