Advancing College-Going Culture

Teacher prompts student to write

How do attitudes of teachers and counselors affect college-going?

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We know that we may have pre-conceived notions of which of our students are likely to succeed and who are not, and that that may affect what we expect from them. We also know that adults' low expectations of students can often lead to low performance as students respond to the level of expectations held of them by the adults in their lives.  This challenge also is closely tied to the issues discussed in the section: " Why do we need to affect the culture of the school?"

In one recent story, a principal asked his kindergarten teachers to tell him who in their class was “college material.” Indeed, teachers responded with the names of specific children they had already decided were going to college, and those that were not. This means that, even at five years-old, some children were already getting the message in school that they could not go as far as their peers.

These low expectations often are held of low-income students and students who are racial/ethnic minorities, and unfortunately can heavily influence the life trajectory for student success.

In the work to raise expectations for all students, we discovered that when educators begin to hold all students to high expectations for achievement and success, it can make a profound difference in students' lives.

Counselors often are not able to spend time working with students on developing their aspirations, and don’t always have the knowledge regarding college and career options that they need to benefit their students.  Counselors need to be knowledgeable and have the time to share information about a wide variety of subjects including admission procedures, financial aid, career programs, and internships with all of their students. When that information does not get through, the students who need that information the most -- because their family members do not have personal knowledge or experiences that they can share -- are the ones who can be left behind.  This situation particularly hurts students whose parents did not attend college, as their families often lack the knowledge that is needed about what courses to take and how to prepare for college admission, and often believe that college is too expensive for their family to afford.


Student Check-List for Teachers

Tennyson High School, Hayward California, 12 grade students in SOMA Academy, 2006

Seniors in a local urban high school created a “check-list” of what they would like their teachers to do to help students prepare for college. Check-list_for_teachers.doc (22.02KB)

Intractable Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education

Weinstein; American Psychologist; Vol. 59, No. 6, 511-520; 2004

Using an ecological theory, how do negative self-fulfilling prophecies create or perpetuate educational inequities and unequal outcomes in schools; calls for replacing an educational system that channels students into distinct pathways to one that develops the talents of all. WEINSTEINetal-Intractable_Self-Fulfilling_Prophecies-AP2004.pdf (493.02KB)

Teachers’ Perceptions and Expectations and the Black-White Test Score Gap

Ferguson; Urban Education; Vol.38, No.4, July 2003

The article provides evidence for the proposition that teachers’ perceptions, expectations, and behaviors interact with students’ beliefs, behavior, and work habits in ways that help to perpetuate the black-white test score gap. FERGUSON-Teacher_Perceptionsblack-white_test_scores-UE2003.pdf (192.22KB)

On the Front Lines of Schools: Perspectives of Teachers and Principals on the High School Dropout Problem

Bridgeland, Dilulio and Balfanz; Civic Enterprises; June 2009

The results of this study focuses on the mismatch of expectations and aspirations of teachers and principals as regards dropout issues as compared to students and families; for example: less than one-third of teachers believe that schools should expect all students to meet high academic standards, graduate with the skills to do college-level work...while past reports on student beliefs report that as many as 66% of dropouts said they would have worked harder if more had been demanded of them in the classroom.


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Last modified on 9/10/2009

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