Obviously Nick Saban at the University of Alabama is a special football coach. And though I’m an Auburn grad, I have no problem recognizing this fact.
Why does he have a consistently good team?
Because he consistently has the best players in the country. Plain and simple. There are a number of outfits that each year tell us which college team had the best recruiting year. One of the more well known is Rivals.com. Here’s how they’ve ranked Alabama since 2011. The No. 1 class each year except when they slipped to No. 2 in 2015.
So what does this have to do with Alabama’s public schools? Because any educator knows that poverty is the 800 gorilla in any school or any classroom. Poverty is far and away the top indicator of student and school performance. Though our politicians don’t want to admit it, the environment a child is raised in has HUGE implications for how they perform in the classroom.
For example, when the Alabama Accountability Act arbitrarily told us that the bottom six percent of all schools would be called “failing,” it was not a surprise that collectively, all such schools had 91 percent of their students getting free and reduced lunches.
Now a new study from Mathematica Policy Research sheds more light on this subject. In a study that covered five years and 26 school districts, researchers found very little difference in the effectiveness of teachers in both high poverty and low poverty schools. In fact, for all intent and purposes, teachers were almost equal in their teaching ability.
Researchers determined that high and low poverty students have similar chances of being taught by the most effective teachers and the least effective teachers.
Still when test scores are reported, low poverty schools almost universally have the top performance. And all the while misguided “education reformers” lay the blame for poor performance at the feet of teachers.
And rather than getting serious about the real needs of high poverty schools and students, we continue to look for band aides such as A-F school report cards, the Alabama Accountability Act, charter schools and some new “crisis” we can conjure up.
Coincidently Rivals.com said that the No. 100 recruiting class for 2016 belonged to the University of Massachusetts. Would Nick Saban be headed for another national football playoff if all he had were those players?