Here at last is a book that challenges the two dominant forces in American education: an aggressive nostalgia for traditional teaching (“If it was bad enough for me, it’s bad enough for my kids”) and a heavy-handed push for Tougher Standards.
Pedro Noguera argues that higher standards and more tests, by themselves, will not make low-income urban students any smarter and the schools they attend more successful without substantial investment in the communities in which they live. Drawing on extensive research performed in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, Noguera demonstrates how school and student achievement is influenced by social forces such as demographic change, poverty, drug trafficking, violence, and social inequity. Readers get a detailed glimpse into the lives of teachers and students working "against the odds" to succeed. Noguera sends a strong message to those who would have urban schools “shape up or shut down”: invest in the future of these students and schools, and we can reach the kind of achievement and success that typify only more privileged communities.
Public schools are the last best hope for many poor families living in cities across the nation. Noguera gives politicians, policymakers, and the public its own standard to achieve—provide the basic economic and social support so that teachers and students can get the job done!
“In this engaging book, Pedro Noguera provides a compelling vision of the problems plaguing urban schools and how to address them. City Schools and the American Dream is replete with insights from a scholar and former activist who makes great use of both personal and professional experiences.”
—William Julius Wilson, Harvard University
Standard setting targets crucial societal objectives by defining educational benchmarks at different achievement levels, and provides feedback to policy makers, schools and teachers about the strengths and weaknesses of a school system. Given that the consequences of standard setting can be dramatic, the quality of standard setting is a prime concern. If it fails, repercussions can be expected in terms of arbitrary evaluations of educational policy, wrong turns in school or teacher development or misplacement of individual students. Standard setting therefore needs to be accurate, reliable, valid, useful, and defensible.
However, specific evidence on the benefits and limits of different approaches to standard setting is rare and scattered, and there is a particular lack with respect to standard setting in the Nordic countries, where the number of national tests is increasing and there are concerns about the time and effort spent on testing at schools without feedback being provided. Addressing this gap, the book offers a discussion on standard setting by respected experts as well as profound and innovative insights into fundamental aspects of standard setting including conclusions for future methodological and policy-related research.