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Equity Assistance Center

Goal 1

Goal 1: Comparably high academic achievement and other student outcomes

"As data on academic achievement and other student outcomes are disaggregated and analyzed, one sees high comparable performance for all identifiable groups of learners, and achievement and performance gaps are virtually non-existent."

Lessons from La Joya

In the La Joya Independent School District (ISD), in partnership with IDRA’s SCCE, school leaders are taking up this charge and closing achievement gaps by focusing on teacher preparation through smaller learning communities. Appropriate teacher preparation in La Joya ISD is positively impacting student outcomes (Montemayor & Cortez, 2007).

"How can we look at them [students] in such a way that we start helping them see the array of their gifts and talents and how those connect very specifically to decisions I make in the classroom?"

What’s underway
In La Joya,

Texas , IDRA’s SCCE has assisted the district in establishing smaller learning communities to support secondary students who were at risk of dropping out. Reading scores improved at a statistically significant level (p<.001) as evidenced by students’ matched case scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). No at-risk student dropped out, there were many students with fewer disciplinary problems, and TAKS scores improved significantly (Montemayor & Cortez, 2007).

What teachers are saying
"I think a prime example is… the math scores were kind of low… And so, we realized that it was an issue, and we said okay, we need to fix this… Okay, you’re going to do math here…you’re going to do math there…and everybody said okay. We’re going to do it. And we’re doing it! Ms. L. is helping me teach math."

"It’s not whether you taught three years or 33 years, because you can teach one year 33 times."

"It is not about me succeeding; it is about all of us succeeding."

"You actually have time for reflection. You have discussions about the end of the day, and not only about the individuals but also as an educator, what am I doing to help these kids."

(from “Valuing Youth – Reflections from a Professional Learning Community,” by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., and Josie Danini Cortez, M.A.)

Listen in to learn more about how La Joya middle school teachers are making a difference.

[Classnotes Podcast] “Professional Learning Communities in Schools: Closing Gaps”
(November 26, 2007) A growing body of research has found that professional learning communities in schools, combined with mentoring, result in clear improvements in outcomes for staff and students. Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., an IDRA senior education associate, and Dr. Juanita García, an IDRA education associate, join Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., director of the IDRA Texas Parent Information and Resource Center, to describe such a community in a middle school in south

Texas . Each of the teachers mentored, advocated for and championed three students who needed an educator in their lives who believes in them and their capacity for learning and success. The results were seen in a transformation of adults and improved student achievement.

Listen to this podcast.


Do you have a story to share about how you’re achieving Goal 1 of the Six Goals of Education Equity in your school? We want to hear from you! Send comments to contact@idra.org.


Learn more about how you can achieve Goal 1 of the Six Goals of Equity and School Reform

Valuing Youth – Reflections from a Professional Learning Community
By Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., and Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., IDRA Newsletter

Professional Development Through Learning Communities
By K.P. Fulton and M. Riel, Edutopia Online, 1999
George Lucas Educational Foundation

Professional Learning Communities: Communities of Continuous Inquiry and Improvement 
By S.M. Hord, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 1997

Principles of Effective Professional Development for Mathematics and Science Education: A Synthesis of Standards
By S. Loucks-Horsley, K. Stiles, and P. Hewson, NISE Brief
National Institute for Science Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, May 1996

Professional Learning Communities, Leadership, and Student Learning


S.C. Thompson, L. Gregg, and J.M. Niska, Research in Middle Level Education Online Missouri State University , 2004

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