Heard an interesting stat at the WTI conference last month - children of families that make more than $108,000 per year, graduate college by 24 years old (6 years post HS) at a rate of approximately 75%. When the income range changes to between $34,000 to $108,000, the graduation rate drops to about 25% - and just because that was not terrifying enough - when income is less than $34,000 the percent that graduate college by 24 years old is less than 10%.
There is the challenge. And that feels daunting when you look at those percentages -- those college graduation rates are what our current system produces. And that stat is why we simply cannot teach like we always have - our results have not been great. Doing the same thing and expecting different results...... well we know what that is, insanity. How we introduce students topics, how we expect them to process and understand must be changed. We must recognize that the current system is not helping all students, and it was not designed to do so. The system was designed to sort.
We must not sort, time that is needed and grades must be done differently. Giving a student an F or B does not make him/her ready for their post HS life. Grades cannot be the final measure of a student in a class room. Their success after our walls should be, and that is why differentiation is key.
So when a school is over half free and reduced lunch your challenge is there. I strive to make sure that my students can successfully complete their first semester of secondary math beyond HS - whether that is a technical college, a 4 year-college Algebra course or a Calculus depending on the courses the student have taken with me at my school. And that is not easy; I continually push myself and my students to make sure they are all ready, even my D students. For all of them are moving to careers (some thru college, some not) - and I accept that it is my job to make sure they can do math for their next step.
If students are not pushed, are not given upper level work there will be no belief they can handle secondary education. And I think belief is what is really missing below $108,000 income level. We must stop sorting and start setting up students for post-HS success.