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Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap: Schools, Income and Student Success (AIMS, 2019)


Abstract and Figures

Where children live in the Halifax region does have a strong bearing on the quality of their education, this AIMS research report demonstrates, using data gleaned from published school-by-school student results. School district policies from 2009 to 2018, such as “Good Schools to Great Schools” and the “Priority Schools” initiative, addressed the the educational inequities, but little changed in the trajectory of student achievement. Based upon a comparative analysis of reported test results in 119 Primary to Grade 9 schools, the study not only identifies the top performing schools, struggling schools, and most improved schools, but proposes more effective ways of raising student standards and closing the gap affecting students in disadvantaged school communities.
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This publication highlighted the importance of taking a population-based perspective when examining educational outcomes, and stressed the importance for provinces of developing the ability to track students’ progress through the school system. A working lunch put on by the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) to discuss this work was attended by over 100 individuals, including policy makers, academics and educators. IRPP also organized two presentations of this work in Montréal at the Léa-Roback Centre de recherche sur les inégalités sociales de santé de Montréal and the Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University in April 2007.
Large achievement gaps exist between high- and low-income students and between black and white students. This article explores one explanation for such gaps: income segregation between school districts, which creates inequality in the economic and social resources available in advantaged and disadvantaged students’ school contexts. Drawing on national data, I find that the income achievement gap is larger in highly segregated metropolitan areas. This is due mainly to high-income students performing better, rather than low-income children performing worse, in more-segregated places. Income segregation between districts also contributes to the racial achievement gap, largely because white students perform better in more economically segregated places. Descriptive portraits of the school districts of high- and low-income students show that income segregation creates affluent districts for high-income students while changing the contexts of low-income students negligibly. Considering income and race jointly, I find that only high-income white families live in the affluent districts created by income segregation; black families with identically high incomes live in districts more similar to those of low-income white families. My results demonstrate that the spatial inequalities created by income segregation between school districts contribute to achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students, with implications for future research and policy.
The Fraser Institute Report Card of school rankings has won the hearts of parents and the press. For over a decade, the rankings have been particularly burdensome for low-ranking (usually low socio-economic status, high-poverty) schools when parents of highachieving children move them to higher-ranking schools. In February 2010, after defending parents' rights to access the rankings, Victoria's Times-Colonist newspaper decided not to publish them. Using critical discourse analysis, this article explores the rankings' long media reign and the Times-Colonist's abrupt decision to stop publishing them. Discourse about the rankings is shaped by multiple factors including the relationship between the press and educators, as well as the nature of societal discourse- in particular, how powerful institutions create what Foucault calls "regimes of truth."
Describes successful school and state efforts to close the achievement gap in low-income, high-minority schools. Suggests four principal-initiated actions to replicate these efforts: Take responsibility for closing achievement gap; use standards to reshape curriculum and instruction; find ways to provide extra instruction for student who need it; assign the strongest teachers to students who need them most. (PKP)
Over the past decade, the unfortunate reality is that the income gap has widened between Canadian families. Educational outcomes are one of the key areas influenced by family incomes. Children from low-income families often start school already behind their peers who come from more affluent families, as shown in measures of school readiness. The incidence, depth, duration and timing of poverty all influence a child's educational attainment, along with community characteristics and social networks. However, both Canadian and international interventions have shown that the effects of poverty can be reduced using sustainable interventions. Paediatricians and family doctors have many opportunities to influence readiness for school and educational success in primary care settings.
Halifax Regional Municipality, and various Census Tract Districts, Halifax Region. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. See Personal Interviews Arnold
Statistics Canada. 2018. Census Profile, 2016 Census, Halifax Regional Municipality, and various Census Tract Districts, Halifax Region. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. See Personal Interviews Arnold, Sarah. 2018. Executive director and founder, Halifax Learning Centre, Sept. 7 and 17.
Vale & Associates, Halifax, and president, Halifax Chamber of Commerce
  • Cynthia Dorrington
Dorrington, Cynthia. 2018. Vale & Associates, Halifax, and president, Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Oct 3.
Executive vice-president, T4G, Halifax, and past president
  • Mark Fraser
Fraser, Mark. 2018. Executive vice-president, T4G, Halifax, and past president, Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 21.
Regional director of education, Halifax Regional Centre for Education
  • Elwin Leroux
LeRoux, Elwin. 2018. Regional director of education, Halifax Regional Centre for Education, Oct. 5.