The most challenging issue for school leaders today is enhancing students’ achievement. Nothing can be more complex and frustrating than low students’ performance. Every devoted administrator, teacher and counselor wants students to achieve and learn at their highest possible level. There are some important aspects what school leaders must consider about the barriers to students’ academic achievements. They should make some changes to remove those barriers. The variables that influence students’ success or failure range from students’ natural and learnt ability to environmental issues. One of the most important factors that affects students’ achievements is self-perception. If we consider each issue separately, we come to know that they collectively produce a formed outcome.
Significant Factors Leading To Low Academic Achievement:
The factor which can affect student’s capability of learning dramatically is his/her home life .Obviously, if there is lack of decent income, children will have less learning opportunities consequently. It will then force them to enter into inappropriate educational establishments where they will not be able to gain quality education. In the same way, an emotionally complex family life can lead to lack of concentration in classroom and also causes emotional disturbances.
Another significant factor affecting student’s performance is student’s own beliefs and attitude. Psychologists reveal that students who have low expectations for themselves cannot give performance as high as those who expect to do well at school .These students become frustrated and eventually give a poor result. This cycle is generally known as failure syndrome. (Brophy; 1998) Lack of confidence also affects students’ learning ability. It causes no connection or disengagement with learning that leads to low achievement. (Arroyo, Rhoad and drew; 1999) If students don’t believe that they have the power to achieve, they will always produce a poor result. (Brown; 1999)
The school culture can also act as a barrier to students’ achievements. The curriculum should be up to date. If it does not possess relevance and meaning for students, they will never get interested in studying. It is the responsibility of school administration to provide academic opportunities for all students and should make efforts so that all students can succeed. (Arroyo, Rhoad and Drew; 1999)
The problem solving ability is usually learnt from early experiences. Students who fail to learn it or who did not have such experience would eventually not bring this capability to their classroom. It would become difficult for them to understand complex forms of learning. On the other hand, the students who have solved problems previously, would be capable of repeating it at school.
Opportunities to Learn:
If a student is from poverty stricken and nonsupporting background, they won’t be able to receive help from their parents. They won’t be getting more opportunities to learn than offered at school. Moreover, if the parents are less educated, they won’t be able to help their children in studies. If a student lives in wrong postcode, they will be unable to attend a great school leading to much harder work and struggle in order to succeed.
Students having hyperactive nature are unable to concentrate thoroughly and this affects their learning ability. There was a fallacy about the hyperactive nature in primitive people that this is due to additives and sugar levels in food. But science has proved that this is inherited feature. Disruption can also be adapted from other students who distract their fellow mates. The reason behind such attitude may be emotional disturbance or hyperactivity.
Attendance at school is of very much importance in gaining achievements. Parents who do not send their children regularly to school do them no favors educationally. Students who take leave from school for long periods feel emotionally distraught and feel disempowered. This can eventually withdraw them from learning and losing hope.
The level of enthusiasm a student can show is influenced by a lot of features ranging from their family background and personal life to the technique of teaching being adapted and the teacher delivering it. If students have the passion for learning, they can gain remarkable achievements. On the other hand, if they have lack of passion for studies, they do not get much success in academic field.
Method of Teaching:
The method which is adapted by teachers matter a lot to students’ learning. Hands on approach to learning seem to be most productive. When children are helped to get involved in studies, stay alert and think creatively, they are more likely to achieve bigger goals. Some students respond better to certain teaching techniques while others won’t go so well with them because every student has his/her own attitude towards learning.
Urban students face a variety of extraneous factors which other suburban students do not on a daily basis. Urban students have to gain skills so as to lead a prosperous life ahead. In the meanwhile, they are also distracted by so many things. Urban students who live in crime-infested areas have his impact in classroom too. The violence on streets contaminate their little minds and affect their learning ability to a great extent .Student’s motivation is directly affected by these problems and have an influence on their learning capability.(Leland; 2005)
Most of the urban students are usually dropped out of school because they do not have the feeling of trying anymore so they just end up quitting. Some of the students think that teachers have lack of understanding and they are impatient with them. They eventually fail to comprehend what is being taught and mostly skip classes. This becomes a cycle in which children become materialistic and consequently give up altogether. (Lee; 1999) Some students feel left out if they are getting no encouragement or motivation in their career. In such a way, they become resistant in pursuing their education furthermore. According to an ethnographic study, the main reasons for student failures were perceptions of racism, personal relationships with teachers and absenteeism. In urban schools lack of caring, teachers’ apathy and low expectations all contribute to students’ failure. Students will feel happy and satisfied if the teacher has a positive personality. (Slavin; 2005)
In spite of so many hurdles that come into the way of students during their academic career in urban schools, there are still a lot of students who overcome them and manage to succeed. Up till now, many school systems have been repaired by applying school reforms and schools are now making significant and sincere efforts in raising the level of student achievements. Schools have improved themselves by various methods that include implementing those academic programs which are supported by research, strengthening professional development, setting high standards and ensuring orderly and safe schools. Class sizes are also getting smaller so that struggling students can get extra help. In the modified system, families, staff, school officials and community organizations are all being involved. Urban schools still have a lot to do for making remarkable reforms but significant improvements have been made for students’ achievement .The president of American Federation of Teachers, Sandra Feldman says that the efforts made by urban schools for achieving universal excellence cannot be denied.
Relation between Expectations and Student Achievement:
Both experiment and research have proved that achievement and expectation are inter-related. Assumptions about student’s talent, teacher’s expectation and unconscious biases all affect the achievement of a student. The expectations of teachers which they make about the future results of students affect both the student performance and teacher’s perception. (Bambarg; 2000) Teachers who use coping strategies can cause the failure syndrome of students who might fail from frustration, poor effort and low expectations. Some strategies such as retention, ability grouping and pull-out programs have been backfired. (Costello; 1996)
According to a psychological research, teacher usually tend to expect less from low income and minority students as compared to others. Higher expectations for students’ achievements have proved to be really helpful in enhancing their learning gains. (Hale-Benson; 1986)Negative behavior of teacher can cause students to withdraw from learning in a classroom. Moreover, the values which are culturally-driven can affect student practices and expectations. (Smey-Richamn; 1989)
Effect of Motivation on Learning:
Every student sets certain goals for them. Motivation directs them towards those goals. It also affects the choices made by students whether to enroll in arts or science, whether to play games with friends or complete the homework while staying at home. Motivation increases the amount of energy and efforts that should be spent in achieving certain goals. It helps them to complete a task wholeheartedly. Students can begin a task which they want to do but it sometimes becomes difficult for them to continue working for it and complete it in time. Often they are frustrated by doing the same thing. Motivation increases their passion for completing that task. (Larson; 2000) Motivation also affects the amount of attention learners pay to their work and the extent to which they can effectively process it. For example, the students who are highly motivated by their family and friends often make devoted efforts to understand the lectures thoroughly. They also consider the ways of utilizing the good things in their own lives as well. (Eccles and Wigfield; 1985)
There is usually more effect of grades on students who are motivated to achieve success. They are very excited to have higher grades and if they get some low grade, they get depressed. For instance, forming or not forming football team won’t be a big deal for a student who is not interested in sports but it will be a matter of significance for who is interested in football .In short, motivation cause students to perform quite well in their studies. Highly motivated students often excel in classroom and prove to be the highest achievers.
How to improve Student Achievement:
More than two hundred studies have proved that a skillful, knowledgeable teacher is necessary for remarkable student achievements. The best utilization of schools’ resources is to raise teacher quality which then lead to increase in student’s learning ability. A research at Dallas school showed that a having a less efficient teacher lowered the performance of students, even if a more competent teacher is appointed later on. Ninety percent of the variations between best and worst school depends on the teacher qualification. No good schools can be created without good teachers. In a nutshell, no good schools can be formed without good administrator and no good students can be formed without good teachers. Schools which had highly educated and experienced mathematics teachers give higher achieving students. Students can even achieve in low economy schools only if they have experienced teachers. If a student unfortunately come across two ineffective teachers in consecutive years, his/her academic career is badly affected.
Classroom management is another very essential feature of a good school. A teacher should organize and structure an interactive learning environment in classroom so that students’ learning ability is increased. Schools should not be based on the fad currently in vogue rather they should be based on what students have to achieve through it. Teachers should be effective enough to teach strategic skills and knowledge. Schools usually do not pay sufficient amount of salary to teachers and they are often mistreated. Discipline is not the major problem of schools rather it is lack of routines and procedures. Good staff developers, principals, administrators and assistant principals can effectively train their teachers to manage classroom wisely. In good school, it is necessary for the staff to set measurable and clear goals and always work as a productive team. They should always keep a check on the goals whether they are being achieved or not. Schools can be improved with the help of a constructive staff not with faddish programs. School administrators should be results-driven and goal-oriented. They should know where to spend money in order to achieve their goals. In determining student achievement, the expertise of teacher plays very important role.
For so many years, psychologists and scientists have been nusy in research to find out different ways of learning. A number of theories have been developed which include constructivism, andragogy, behaviorism, non-behaviorism, humanist and many more. Scientists tried to discover the reaction of animals toward new information and they used it in human ways of learning in educational context. In order to develop inclusive learning environment in a classroom, a teacher should form fostering communication, make changes for inclusive setting and create collaborative realationships. He/she should create such an environment in the classroom that supports positive behavior among students.
Task C : Reflective Account
In my point of view, the professional learning activities always have a positive influence on the results of students. A teacher should set up a focus on understanding the connections among the ways different students respond to your lecture, certain teaching activitie and what you think is necessary for your students to learn.A successful teacher is he whose expertise can bring valued outcomes from the students. There is a variety of teaching techniques that we can not be sure about any single method that it would guarantee the desired outcomes for students. Therefore, it is essential to keep a check and remain up to date with the constructive and innovative techniques of teaching so that it produces a positive impact on student learning ability.Some professional learning opportunities hacve no concern with the effect they should produce on students . They merely work for increasing specific teaching skills regardless of their constructive approach. Desired outcomes for students should include the training about how to learn, comprehending text, developing competent skills and character building. They should not typically focus on the learning of some specific knowledge. It depends on our expertise that how new skills and knowledge should be taught to students that they can get them without any complexity. Teacher expect higher from students when they begin to give improved outcomes.
Teachers involved in effective professional learning do not take the learning difficulties faced by students as a consequence of community and home environment. They are responsible about the positive impact of professional learning and skills on their students thus, they become more effective teachers. Heightened responsibility is a very important factor in enhancing the teaching expertise. In effective professional development, teachers are required to produce theories of curriculum, assessment and effective teaching as well as their practice. Some teachers possess strong curriculum knowledge but weak assessment knowledge, professional development would eradicate this weakness of a good teacher. Particular students have specific demands and the teacher’s professional learning should vary in accordance with these demands. Teachers should have sophisticated assessment skills if they want to realize the knowledge of their students and what further learning they need at home. For this purpose, teachers need a number of ways to assess their students’ progress. They should know the methods of standardized testing which may include systematic analysis of students’ work, interviews with them about their learning and ofcourse classroom observations.
Teachers must identify their own professional learning needs as well as the needs of their students. Teachers require self-regulatory skills so that they can reflect and monitor the effectiveness of changes they made in their teaching strategy. In this way, we will come to know what adjustments we should make in order to enhance the outcomes of students. There wouyld be no benefit to students in the absence of such self-regulation. Self-regulation is an important factor which should be practiced by all the learners whether they be students or teachers.By the help of self-regulation , they can keep a check on the efforts which they have to make in future to enhance their learning.
If there are no clearly defined goals, teachers won’t be able to develop better practice. Teachers are usually unwilling to take part in an inquiry process unless their job is at risk. Deep understanding is required to develop the skills of professional inquiry. Teachers should be able to absorb new information and bring it into practice. Learners may be present physically in any learning situation but are not fully committed to the learning process. As far as teacher’s professional learning is considered, the participation is often voluntary. This volunteering may be due to the administrative and peer pressure. Mostly, the teachers present in that learning process think that they will not be able to bring those suggestions into practice. This should not be tha case. We must always keep on trying to bring changes in our techniques which are not effective so far.
The research shows that learning important content by getting involved into meaningful activities always prove to have greater influence on the outcomes of students than by signing up forcefully into those activities. Teachers should engage sufficiently into the learning process so as to extend their skills and enhance their knowledge in order to improve the students’ outcomes. Initial engagement of teachers in to the learning process may be increased by solving the specific issues of teachers. Furthermore, teachers should be provided such opportunities to explore innovative theories and their impacts on students. If the new information is similar to the teacher’s existing understanding, it can easily be absorbed into their existing strategy. Because teachers usually deny the new ideas conflicting with their existing ideas.
We should reflect on our own approaches to models of reflection, delivery, models of evaluation, use of qualitative and quantitative data, learner evaluation and identifying assessment outcomes being the basis for improvement. We should set achievable, measurable and timely targets for ourselves and try to enhance our existing skills. It is the responsibility of every teacher to regularly monitor the learning abilities of their students in different courses. In addition to this, teachers must ue student feedback so as to bring improvements in their teaching style.