How To Help Students In Poverty

“A student’s zip code may sometimes be the greatest predictor of academic proficiency.”

–Jim Grant

In his book, The Death of Common Sense in Our Schools, Jim Grant, renowned educator and author, enumerates the disadvantages poor children and their teachers contend with.  He also prescribes best practices for schools helping students in poverty. Here they are with an asterisk denoting practices of Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school. Modify the traditional school calendar:

  • Extend the school year.*
  • Lengthen the school day.*
  • Space school vacation over 12 months.
  • Offer Saturday classes.
  • Offer a breakfast and lunch program.*
  • Offer a summer breakfast and lunch program.*
  • Provide after-school homework clubs.*
  • Arrange for before-and after-school child care in your school.*
  • Provide special-needs services before children reach age 7.*
  • Make available accelerated learning opportunities.*
  • Extend summer school opportunities.*
  • Create small class sizes (18-22 students).*
  • Establish small school size (under 750 students).
  • Propose universal preschool (four-year-olds).*
  • Expand Head Start to include the near-poor.*
  • Provide a full-day kindergarten program.
  • Institute transition programs or grades such as:  pre-kindergarten program (young fives), pre-first grade (young sixes), and pre-second grade (young sevens).
  • Propose looping classrooms, including inter-building looping
  • Provide multiage, continuous-progress classrooms.*
  • Increase Title I services to include the near-poor.*
  • Arrange for a trained paraprofessional for every classroom.
  • Provide remedial math and language arts services.*
  • Eliminate grade-level promotional gateposts.*
  • Abolish group standardized testing before grade four.
  • Establish three school-entrance dates through-out the year.*
  • Set the school-entrance date at September 1 or before.*

These best practices of Horizonte have helped thousands of teens and adults earn their high school diploma.  Instead of being given a fish they were taught how.

Question:  Which of these best practices would traditional high schools benefit from?  

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