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‘The Iceberg Effect’—Not Just About Asking Questions

Upon arriving at AACTE last month to begin our semester-long internship, we were whisked off to the National Press Club for a press briefing on The Iceberg Effect, based on the new studySchool Performance in Context: Indicators of School Inputs and Outputs in Nine Similar Nations. For three doctoral students who are dedicated to promoting social justice in and out of the classroom, this could not have been a more fitting introduction to our work at AACTE.

The report, released by the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann Foundation, casts new light on U.S. students’ performance on international assessments, controlling for social and economic factors that have not been previously studied alongside student achievement on this scale. The results highlight the relatively strong academic achievement of America’s students in spite of our nation’s poor performance in providing supports to help offset the widespread social and economic effects of poverty.

The findings prompt us to ask several uncomfortable questions: How is it that the United States is the wealthiest of nations with the most educated population, yet we rank among the worst of the nine nations studied when looking at economic inequality? How might we as a nation come together to offer more and better support for impoverished families? What efforts could help to alleviate the social stressors that hinder the achievement and well-being of our poorest students? Most importantly, how do we as a culture ensure that all children are prepared and available for learning? And how might this knowledge contribute to AACTE’s mission of advocating for high-quality teacher preparation?

Indeed, this report compels us to engage in asking these difficult questions, and also to insist on answers and solutions.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be delving into these and other essential questions—questions that, if not answered, abandon the most vulnerable among us to suffer the life-long effects of poverty. How can we in our various roles add our voices so that together our questions are no longer ignored or pushed aside? How can we rally fellow educators, communities, and policy makers to come together and make true change for the benefit of the poorest among us?

Organizations such as AACTE and the American Association of School Administrators provide a voice on these issues through the Educating the Total Child initiative. We want to hear from you: What innovative practices is your institution using to address the issues of poverty and PK-12 education in your local context?

We encourage you to join us in this important conversation with your peers from across the nation at AACTE’s 67th Annual Meeting: Advancing the Imperative, February 27–March 1, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia. In particular, we recommend Etta Hollins’ Speaker Spotlight Session, Sunday, March 1, 10:15–11:45 a.m., as she addresses this important topic.

Add your voice to the conversation now on Twitter at #AACTE15 and on the Annual Meeting Facebook page. Also be on the lookout for the Innovation Exchange’s repository to submit your local innovative ideas!


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Amanda Bush

George Mason University - AACTE intern

Christine DeGregory

George Mason University - AACTE intern

Donna Sacco

George Mason University - AACTE intern

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