Putting Inner City Students First
New! Final Report on Putting Inner City Students First: A School-University Partnership
Putting Inner City Students First (PICSF) is a research project connected to the Toronto District School Board’s “Model Schools for Inner Cities” program. This important initiative has designated seven model schools in each of the most economically marginalized and underserviced communities in Toronto; the purpose is to provide students in these schools with the supports necessary for academic and social success. These schools serve as hubs of learning for students, parents, community members, student teachers, and university faculty and researchers. Using multiple methods (e.g. interviews, digital photos and videos, observations, and document analysis), PICSF produced six case studies that examine the following features of the model schools:
1. Schooling, Student Engagement, and Academic Achievement
i) The Learner, the Teacher, and the Space In-between (K. Gallagher)
ii) Engaging Literacies: Identity Texts as Catalyst and Medium for Academic Performance (J. Cummins and S. Stille)
2. Schooling and Social Equity
3. Schooling and Community Connections
i) PLAY (Place, Activity, Youth): Geographies of a Model School (C. Fusco)
ii) Principals and Parents: Connections and Disjunctures (J. Flessa and R. Nicholls)
Significant findings include illustrations of the central role of teachers’ biographies and their conceptions of ‘community’ in their pedagogical imagination, the importance of culturally relevant pedagogy and the role of language and culture in students’ self-conceptions as learners, the necessity for school principals to find ways to combat deficit thinking about parents in urban communities, and the need for funding mechanisms such as the Model Schools initiative that can provide crucial resources for sustaining and developing programs to enhance the physical, social, and emotional health and culture of schools.
PICSF researchers discuss their findings. Check out their in-depth interviews on the individual study pages.
Dr. Kathleen Gallagher
Dr. Joseph Flessa
Dr. Sarfarov Niyozov
Dr. Caroline Fusco
Dr. Dominique Rivière
Project Context and Focus
Research from Australia, the United States, the UK, and Europe demonstrates that inner-city schools and students face significant socio-economic, political, and cultural barriers to academic success. In Canada, however, while there has been a significant history of critical school-based research, there are still relatively few studies that specifically address the changing face of urban education in Canadian contexts. Global events and immigration patterns in the last decade have dramatically changed the cultural and political landscape of Canada and of the world at large. Thus, new studies that consider the impact of these changes on public institutions, particularly schools, are greatly needed. The project called Putting Inner City Students First (PICSF) is one such study.
At the local level, PICSF is connected to the Toronto District School Board’s “Model Schools for Inner Cities” program. The purpose of this important initiative, which has designated seven model schools in each of the most economically marginalized and under-serviced communities in Toronto, is to provide students in these schools with the supports necessary for academic and social success. A key feature of the model schools is that they serve as hubs of learning for students, parents, community members, student teachers, university faculty, and researchers.