New Reseach On Minnesota Achievement Gap 

Minnesota Public Radio News has spent the past year looking into the reasons Minnesota’s Achievement Gap is among the worst in the nation. Through data and research it has compiled a summary of causes, implications, and solutions to explain why Minnesota’s students of color face an uphill battle in their attempts to overcome the Achievement Gap.

Please follow this link to learn more.
http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/03/07/graduation-gap-sources

What Can We Do to Boost Math and Science Statistics?

According to the National Math + Science Initiative, only 42% of fourth grade students and 35% of eighth grade students performed at or above the proficient level in mathematics in 2013. The National Math + Science Initiative also reported in the same year that only 44% of U.S. high school graduates are ready for college-level mathematics and only 36% of U.S. high school graduates are ready for college-level science. What do these statistics mean? It’s alarming that less than half of the United States’ population is performing at grade level and less than half are prepared for college-level math and science courses.

What can we do to help improve these statistics? The Junior League of Minneapolis (JLM) is actively working with students and parents through the H.O.M.E.S. (Hands-on Math, Engineering and Science) project. Students in grades K-5, along with their parents, are encouraged through positive learning associations and resources to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) activities further at home. By increasing the interest in STEM among students and parents, this is addressing the achievement gap in Minnesota.

One of the easiest ways to help improve these staggering math and science statistics is by helping students have a positive association with math, science and engineering. When students are excited and curious about a subject, they are more inclined to work harder and have a passion for it. The STEM projects set forth by H.O.M.E.S. are hands-on, creative and a lot of fun! JLM members are encouraged to sign up for a shift. It’s the perfect way to spark the love of STEM learning with students and to help decrease the achievement gap in the Twin Cities.

By Katie Runman

A day in the Life of a Between the Lines committee member

Frozen?  What’s that about?  Would a second-grade girl like the story?”  The innocuous question revealed a wealth of information about the woman standing before me.  For starters, she must be pretty isolated not to know about the highest grossing animated film of all time.  Second, she’s been outta the loop for quite a while: Disney introduced Anna and Elsa back in 2013.  The most important takeaway, however, is that she cares about whether or not a young girl would enjoy the story.

Over the next couple of hours, I record women as they read — everything from The Babysitters Club to Love You Forever — into a recording device.  Before starting, each woman opens with a personal message about how she misses and loves the recipient of the book: “enjoy the story, I miss you,” “hope to see you soon,” and “momma thinks of you every day.”
The last woman I record thanks me for spending a Saturday with her, and she praises the volunteers I’m working with, “it it’s so, so nice what the Between the Lines people do for Shakopee.”

Between the Lines is a volunteer-driven committee run by the Junior League of Minneapolis.  The mission of Between the Lines is to promote literacy and help incarcerated mothers//caretakers connect with their children.

Want behind the scenes information about the committee?  Four times a year, members bring books, tape recorders, and stationary to the Shakopee Correctional Facility.  The committee helps mothers do three things: 1) select an age appropriate book for their child 2) create a recording of the mother reading out loud, and 3) write a short note to their child.  A couple weeks later, at a ‘wrap party,’ Between the Lines members package and send the books, recordings, and personal letters to the children of participating mothers.

Between the Lines was established in 2010, and the organization has helped nearly 700* children connect with an incarcerated caregiver through reading.  To get involved or learn more about the committee, please contact beteweenthelines@jlminneapolis.org.

Post contributed by Jennifer Prod

2015 Minneapolis – St. Paul Community Report Card

While progress has been made to address the achievement gap there is still much more work needed. This week Generation Next released its annual report highlighting goals, indicators and trends in our community. Key insights from the report point to areas of opportunity and continued growth.

  • Less than 30% of the 762 early childhood programs in Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) are rated as high-quality and the biggest gap is in licensed family childcare where only 8% of the 436 programs are rated as high quality.
  • While the majority of low-income children receive a screening through their doctor’s office, only 33% of three-year-olds receive the state-mandated Early Childhood Screening.
  • Approximately 17,000 students in kindergarten-5th grade are not reading at grade level and the majority are in the lowest achievement level—the “red zone.”
  • The percent of students in MSP meeting 8th grade math benchmarks has been steadily decreasing over the last three years—from 44% in 2013 to 39% in 2015.
  • Unlike many other outcomes, some student groups of color have higher levels of social-emotional skills than white students.
  • The number of students graduating high school in four years has been steadily increasing over the last three years—from 3,900 in 2012 to 4,200 in 2014.
  • High school graduation rates are increasing for every student group, except for the rate for American Indian students which has remained relatively flat.
  • Research shows the best predictor of a student’s likelihood to graduate from high school in four years is not race or income; it is whether or not they failed courses in 9th grade.
  • Dual enrollment course participation has a greater academic benefit for low-income and low-achieving high school students than more socially, economically and educationally advantaged participants.
  • Current projections in MN indicate that 74% of all jobs in 2020 will require a post-secondary degree. Currently less than half of students in MN and only 37% of students in MSP have a post-secondary degree after 6 years of enrollment.

To learn more please read the full annual report:

http://www.gennextmsp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Gen-Next-Annual-Report-10-15-2015.pdf

Study :: It’s Not Too Late When Kids Reach Adolescence

With all of the focus on early childhood education and the achievement gap, interventions for adolescents have increasingly been viewed as too costly and not worth the effort. A recent study shows why this assumption might not be true and how we can make a difference in the achievement gap with teenagers.

A University of Chicago research team is carrying out the first ever large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Match Education’s tutoring program over two years with 5,000 students in 15 Chicago Public School high schools. This tutoring intervention is designed to address the problem of academic mismatch (applying the wrong intervention for kids who are falling behind and exacerbating the downhill slide), providing youth with high-intensity individualized math tutoring – two-on-one instruction for an hour a day, every day (“tutoring on steroids”) – designed to help them catch back up to grade level so that they can reengage with regular classroom instruction.

First year results show that participation in Match improved student math test scores by the equivalent of an extra one to two years of learning for the typical American high school student; reduced math course failures by over 50%; and reduced overall course failures by over one quarter.  See the summary here and a New York Times Op Ed here.

Post contributed by Sara Sternberger.

What is Advocacy?

This is after all an Advocacy blog? Let’s take a step back to make sure we’re on the same page.

Advocacy is the act of pleading for, supporting, or making recommendations to influence change. People tend to associate advocacy with lobbying or politics – and it can be – but individuals can advocate for themselves or others too. Can you remember a time when you  spoke up for someone who wasn’t present or defended a friend? Advocacy just means “speaking up” and giving voice to our passions and principles.

The JLM Advocacy committee is working to define advocacy for its membership, engage members in a non-partisan way, and educate membership on the issues surrounding the achievement gap. It’s important that we raise our collective voice in favor of programs and policies which support our vision of decreasing the achievement gap.

WAYS TO ADVOCATE                                                                                                            

  • Creating public awareness through education – sharing data and stories to persuade
  • Blogging
  • Communicating with your elected officials and encouraging others to do the same
  • Writing a letter to the editor

TOOLS TO GET YOUR MESSAGE OUT

  • Social media
  • Promotional materials
  • Letters to the editor
  • Opinion Editorials

Attend the Advocacy event “Coffee & Conversation with Minnesota State Senator Terri Bonoff” on Saturday, March 21st from 9:00am-12:00pm to take a deeper dive into the world of advocacy, understand how you can become civically engaged and hear from  Minnesota State Senator Terri Bonoff on her journey and current priorities. See the JLM website for more information and registration.

Additionally, please post comments on the articles and links you see. Nothing educates people more than a great conversation!

Post contributed by Kristy Barnett.