Ability Grouping Worked! Bring It Back!

 

I started this post in response to a really well thought out and written post currently on the main feed. As I got into my response, I realized I was not going to be able to complete my response within the word limitations allowed at my level of membership. So this is going to be a post of its own.

My whole teaching experience was with kids whose behavior caused them to be removed from general ed classes where they caused disruptions that interfered with the learning experiences of more well-behaved students. For some of the kids I worked with, the mere difficulty of the curriculum and their unpreparedness for it was the cause of their outbursts. Others, though fully capable of doing the work, were dealing with emotional or physiological problems that limited their ability to sit in a classroom with between 25 and 30 other students without doing something to draw attention to themselves. So, given that, I can truly say that I have a fair perspective on the ability of some kids to achieve real academic success and some to be better candidates for more vocational tracts. The absurdity that every kid should have the opportunity to go to college never closed the deal with me. Anyone who has taught at the elementary and middle school level can clearly see that some kids, no matter how much individual attention they are given will never meet the standards we used to associate with a high school diploma, much less be able to go into a college and achieve even higher academic skills.

When I started teaching in the late 1960s kids were placed in groups based on their demonstrated skills in reading and math. Ultimately, that led to one classroom being made up of the slowest kids. That placement wasn’t a death sentence. Kids could make improvements and move to higher-level classes, but as a general rule, what kids demonstrated in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade levels was pretty much what would be the pattern of their academic career. Unfortunately, a large percentage of those kids were African-Americans. That wasn’t acceptable, so the concept of ability grouping was dropped.

When I taught middle school, I would get kids in my classes who came to 6th grade with sub-3rd grade reading levels, with spelling ability even lower, and almost no math facts, much less the ability to perform basic algorithms. If a child has only achieved two years of academic progress in five years of schooling, it is unlikely that he/she is going to make up that deficit before reaching high school.  Even with individualized instruction in a classroom with a maximum of ten students and a full-time aide raising the skill levels of one of those students by more than a year in one academic year was nearly impossible. And the kids I worked with were not unusual in terms of their academic skills.

When you place a student with those kinds of skills in a general ed classroom with 25 students and present them with “grade level” curriculum, you are not going to improve their skills to a noticeable level. They are more than likely to be further turned off and to lose whatever skills they do possess and are not practicing. So the integrating of students of widely different ability levels does not benefit the poorer students, and, if the teacher’s attentions are being drawn necessarily to those students, the students of higher ability are being deprived of what they need. Even with as few as ten students, I found it difficult at times to meet the needs of individuals whose skills either exceeded or trailed those of the group. Specialized materials which allowed for individual instruction helped, but there was still a need to give each student individual instruction time apart from the group, and here I am speaking about one subject area, math. When you consider reading, language arts, social studies, and science, all of which require grade-level reading skills, a student who is lagging in reading and math by more a grade level is going to continue to decline academically if he/she is grouped with students who are at grade level or higher.

What I am saying here is not unknown. It is well known to any teacher, but speaking it is heresy or worse. In the current environment of academia we are supposed to believe that all students can be raised to comparable levels of academic skill. In truth, it is more likely that to achieve the goal of comparable levels there has to be a real diminution of higher-level skills. The concept of achieving equity, the equality of outcome is absurd.

We aren’t born equal. Life gives each of us burdens and advantages. Beyond that, there are things innate in us that determine the course of life we choose. I loved academia. I love learning. I loved the classics. I am a reader. I cannot remember any time in my life when I wasn’t involved in one book or another beginning when I was about eight years old and read All About Dinosaurs by Roy Chapman Andrews. I love books. I always have and I always will. On the other hand, I was never a good team player. I never really liked baseball, football, or basketball. I fenced and I SCUBA dived and I rode horses. Later in life, I became a mountain climber and cyclist. That is me, I am an individual, as are all people. Who I am or what I am is not a product of my race or, in many ways, my family background. None of those things I mentioned above were of any interest to my parents, other than reading, or my two brothers. We three siblings went in totally different directions, followed our own interests and talents.

Given that background, I know that college was for me a wonderful experience. It allowed me to explore a wide range of subjects that fascinated me. It wasn’t preparation for a profession. In fact, there was very little I taught as a teacher that I learned much beyond middle school in my own education.

Let me bring this back to what I really want to say. The idea that a school can function like a factory, produce perfect little equal products is idiotic. A manufacturer gets raw material from which he creates his product. There is a consistency to the raw materials which does not exist in the human world. People aren’t equal. They may be equal in terms of their rights. They may be entitled to equal treatment and equal opportunities, but the outcome of those does not guarantee that they will all end up the same, like a manufactured product at the end of a production line.

Donald Trump and I went to Kew Forest School in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. We had a terrific coach, Charles Delahunt, Dell is what we called him. Dell’s big thing was soccer. He turned out some great teams and some great individual players. I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t that fast or coordinated on my feet. Donald Trump was a great soccer player, far better than I was even though he was two years younger than me. We had the same coach, the same opportunities. He was just better than I was. That is reality. If Dell had spent lots of extra hours trying to turn me into a better soccer player it would have made no difference, certainly not enough to compensate for the inherent differences in our levels of talent. In the end, we each achieved what we wanted from life. I don’t feel any less because Donald ended up as President of the United States and I am a retired teacher enjoying my golden years doing exactly what I want to do.

I feel like I am going a long way out of my way to come back a short distance correctly. The children that come to school are all different. Some of them will be turned on to learning no matter what their backgrounds. Others will find nothing that grabs them, particularly now that industrial arts classes like Metal Shop, Wood Shop, and Gas Engines are no longer part of the curriculum in a lot of schools. The entire concept of “equity” is bankrupt. It isn’t grounded in reality. I have known a lot of people who were mediocre students in school who became very successful when they matured to adulthood. I have known a few who were worse than mediocre and have also succeeded. I have known some who were stars in the classroom but failed miserably as adults. A person’s academic career is rarely an absolute indicator of where they will be as adults. Trying to create equity by dragging everyone down into the same pool of mediocrity helps no one, and may just ruin the chances of a few who might change the world.  End of rant!

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  1. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Beautiful. And if that’s a rant… well, you aren’t ranting right.

     

    • #1
  2. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    100x this.

    • #2
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Sorry, cannot bring it back. Someone might feel bad, and we can’t have that. 

    • #3
  4. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Terrific post. After cops (like DW) and a being manager in a business, the toughest job must be teaching in the public schools in urban areas. SF public schools are generally worthless; the one standout, Lowell High School, which for over 70 years took in the top performers, is now going the way of the dodo. Too many Asians.  Do not regret the tens of thousands we spent for private schools. 

    • #4
  5. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Glad you made this material its own post. 

    • #5
  6. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Eugene Kriegsmann:

    Let me bring this back to what I really want to say. The idea that a school can function like a factory, produce perfect little equal products is idiotic. A manufacturer gets raw material from which he creates his product. There is a consistency to the raw materials which does not exist in the human world. People aren’t equal. They may be equal in terms of their rights. They may be entitled to equal treatment and equal opportunities, but the outcome of those does not guarantee that they will all end up the same, like a manufactured product at the end of a production line.

     

    I am amazed at how many people fail to understand this basic truth. 

    • #6
  7. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    The most important element I found in teaching was in creating a safe environment for my kids. In truth, it was probably the safest place any of them had had in their lives. At some point I realized that the lunchroom was particularly stressful for my kids, probably for almost all kids. I allowed my students to bring their lunches back to the room and eat there. I can’t tell you how many oranges I peeled for them, probably thousands over the years.

    Kids are terrified when they come to school. Having teachers who are themselves terrified doesn’t help. When the constant messaging from teachers is one of hopelessness and “racism” in an unfair society there is nowhere for kids to go that feels safe. If kids don’t feel safe, they can’t focus on learning.

    These morons who are pushing the latest agenda have no feeling for the damage they are doing to children. The year of Zoom has probably done even greater damage, simply adding another irrational fear on top of all the others already there. We have far too many teachers who have no real world experience. They go from schools of Education to classrooms without ever experiencing the real world, from one cocoon to another. They have been fed nonsense, like Critical Race Theory, but have no real life experience to use as a contrasting idea, so they buy it, hook, line, and sinker. Then they pass it along to their students. The entire school system is made up of people who are unfit for the job they are supposed to do, beginning with the school boards. They bring untried, untested concepts and denigrate those who know better or simply don’t hire them.

    I brought to my classroom the teaching techniques that I had experienced in my years in private schools. They were old fashion, sort of one-room school house techniques, but they worked. I stressed basics, like spelling, simple sentence structure, math facts and algorithms. That is what kids needed. My principal left me alone to do my thing largely because once kids were put in my room he didn’t have to think about them which he preferred. That gave me a great deal of freedom. I used disciplinary procedures that I had experienced in school, writing sentences, detention, etc. In my last two years I was told by my principal that I could not use sentences for punishment since it “turned kids off to writing.” Where he learned that “factoid” will likely never be known. His continued attempts to micromanage my classroom led to my finally saying, Enough!

    • #7
  8. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    We have far too many teachers who have no real world experience. They go from schools of Education to classrooms without ever experiencing the real world, from one cocoon to another.

    The most popular science teacher at our son’s high school (granted, this was 15 years ago) was a woman who had worked for about 15 years as a chemist for a large local manufacturing company before deciding to become a teacher. She infused the classroom with lots of tales of what happened in real world industrial chemistry. 

    • #8
  9. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    We have far too many teachers who have no real world experience. They go from schools of Education to classrooms without ever experiencing the real world, from one cocoon to another.

    The most popular science teacher at our son’s high school (granted, this was 15 years ago) was a woman who had worked for about 15 years as a chemist for a large local manufacturing company before deciding to become a teacher. She infused the classroom with lots of tales of what happened in real world industrial chemistry.

    I had a few friends early on, back in the 1970s who had been in industry or the military. They brought something to the classrooms that I haven’t seen in many years, knowledge beyond what books can teach. The teachers I had when in school were scholars who loved education. I wanted to be like them. What I saw in the later years were young people without clue. They had gotten degrees in Education, how to teach. However, without any knowledge gained outside of the system they could do nothing but parrot what they had been taught. I saw similar things when I taught first aid for the Red Cross. I had been a Mountain Rescue paramedic for several years before volunteering to teach first aid. Most of the instructors had no practical experience to draw on, so their classes were often filled with apocrypha they had learned from their instructors. Absurd myths were passed down from one generation to another. That, unfortunately, is the likely condition of modern public education. 

    • #9
  10. The Other Diane Coolidge
    The Other Diane
    @TheOtherDiane

    Oh man oh man oh man could I go on about this. In 2003 I founded and led a grassroots parent movement to advocate for implementation of advanced academics classes in all schools K-12 in our rural public school district.  It was a quixotic, basically full time, 17 year quest to improve educational opportunities for high ability students from all educational backgrounds.  We had to fight an entire generation of administrators who were convinced because of their educational training that ability grouping was racist and elitist.  I kept having to mobilize roomfuls of parents when they’d change policies sneakily (usually in the summertime), and the blowback on my two children from resistant teachers as they went through the system was not insignificant.

    For about 3 or 4 years we had to battle middle school science teachers who didn’t want to participate in the area’s regional science fair, so when forced to participate they made the entire process of creating a science project outrageously stressful for entire classes of students.  We persevered, though, and now we’ve had about half a dozen students over the past few years qualify for international science competitions (here’s a link to an article about one local student scientist just published in our local newspaper today.)

    There was minimal financial support available and reading assignments were staggered throughout the school year as teachers from different elementary schools shared limited sets of advanced paperbacks purchased for the new advanced academics classes those first few years.  What held the entire program together from the very beginning were determined, innovative teachers like you, Eugene, who understood the need to challenge students beyond the standard curriculum, even when being pressured to reach ever-changing standards sent down by the state and federal government.  Thank you for all the years you fought those battles at the classroom level for our children, @eugenekriegsmann.  You made a huge difference for many children, I’m certain, and if any of them become teachers they will very likely incorporate the lessons you taught them in their classrooms too.

    Fads come and go, and I’m laughing at the Virginia attempt to eliminate math ability grouping right now.  My sister had kids in the ultra-competitive Arlington public schools and I can tell you there ain’t no way those beltway parents are going to agree to give up on their children being competitive with top students around the country.  No way.  I’ve got the popcorn ready and am glad to be watching rather than having to participate in that battle myself any more.  Thanks again for the years you devoted to educating our children.

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The problem with tracking systems is who decides how and which kids get into which classes.

    Achievement-based systems (tests based on what a student can demonstrate he or she knows) are fair ways to make these decisions. I would go along with such a system because it actually creates incentives for students.

    Potential-based systems (tests based on aptitude) are inherently biased and unfair. That said, many teachers and parents know of kids who are so far ahead of the other kids that they are bored to death and not working hard and thus getting consistent Cs. :-) So inspiring these students with a challenge can really help them.

    I have known only a handful of teachers who looked for ways to help students be better students than they were. The teacher-student relationship is usually quite passive. The teachers say to themselves, “I can only do so much.” Parents who love their kids are the exact opposite. A friend of mine, a first-grade teacher had two kids. Her son had trouble spelling, and because of that, he was getting marked down on tests that he was actually answering correctly. His mother, knowing her son and believing in him, purchased a computer for him with some great repetitive learning software to help him. I’m going back twenty-five years when such computers were very expensive.

    How do we bottle that mother’s drive to help her child succeed because she believes in him?

    • #11
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The questions regarding children and educational resources are the most difficult questions families and society ever face.

     

    • #12
  13. The Other Diane Coolidge
    The Other Diane
    @TheOtherDiane

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The problem with tracking systems is who decides how and which kids get into which classes.

    Achievement-based systems (tests based on what a student can demonstrate he or she knows) are fair ways to make these decisions. I would go along with such a system because it actually creates incentives for students.

    Potential-based systems (tests based on aptitude) are inherently biased and unfair. That said, many teachers and parents know of kids who are so far ahead of the other kids that they are bored to death and not working hard and thus getting consistent Cs. :-) So inspiring these students with a challenge can really help them.

    I’ve got a different perspective on this, @marcin. In eliminating “tracking” in the 90’s and early 2000’s, school systems threw out the baby with bath water IMO, and in rural areas like ours where there were very limited non-public alternatives this became clear quickly.  Students who are not challenged academically, who get 100’s on all their spelling and reading and math tests year after year in elementary and middle school,  never learn how to study challenging material.  Honors 9th grade teachers told me they had to dumb down their classes for incoming No Child Left Behind students because they were nowhere as well prepared for challenging classes as their predecessors who had had access to advanced classes. Many local students at that time went to college and were unable to handle the challenge of higher level classes so they dropped out.  

    Achievement tests are a great way to find high performing students from middle and higher economic family backgrounds, but carefully-selected aptitude tests and (especially) experienced, observant teachers are critical to find students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who aren’t reaching their academic potential.  A gifted student from a very poor background may appear to just be a troublemaker in class instead of a highly intelligent person with tremendous potential, and that can be revealed with a good aptitude test.   I’m especially a fan of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)  program, which looks for just those students with unrealized potential , gives them access to one or more challenging advanced classes, and offers after school tutoring and instruction throughout the year on how to successfully navigate the school system and increase the probability of success at the postsecondary level.

     

     

    • #13
  14. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The Other Diane (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The problem with tracking systems is who decides how and which kids get into which classes.

    Achievement-based systems (tests based on what a student can demonstrate he or she knows) are fair ways to make these decisions. I would go along with such a system because it actually creates incentives for students.

    Potential-based systems (tests based on aptitude) are inherently biased and unfair. That said, many teachers and parents know of kids who are so far ahead of the other kids that they are bored to death and not working hard and thus getting consistent Cs. :-) So inspiring these students with a challenge can really help them.

    I’ve got a different perspective on this, @ marcin. In eliminating “tracking” in the 90’s and early 2000’s, school systems threw out the baby with bath water IMO, and in rural areas like ours where there were very limited non-public alternatives this became clear quickly. Students who are not challenged academically, who get 100’s on all their spelling and reading and math tests year after year in elementary and middle school, never learn how to study challenging material. Honors 9th grade teachers told me they had to dumb down their classes for incoming No Child Left Behind students because they were nowhere as well prepared for challenging classes as their predecessors who had had access to advanced classes. Many local students at that time went to college and were unable to handle the challenge of higher level classes so they dropped out.

    Achievement tests are a great way to find high performing students from middle and higher economic family backgrounds, but carefully-selected aptitude tests and (especially) experienced, observant teachers are critical to find students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who aren’t reaching their academic potential. A gifted student from a very poor background may appear to just be a troublemaker in class instead of a highly intelligent person with tremendous potential, and that can be revealed with a good aptitude test. I’m especially a fan of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, which looks for just those students with unrealized potential , gives them access to one or more challenging advanced classes, and offers after school tutoring and instruction throughout the year on how to successfully navigate the school system and increase the probability of success at the postsecondary level.

     

     

    I agree with all of this. I saw this too on Cape Cod, which is a relatively rural area still. :-) 

    I like achievement testing for promotion. 

    I guess the answer is to work with the kids we suspect could achieve much more than it appears from their tests. We need to inspire them to work to pass the tests that will enable them to take the advanced classes. :-) 

    • #14
  15. The Other Diane Coolidge
    The Other Diane
    @TheOtherDiane

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The questions regarding children and educational resources are the most difficult questions families and society ever face.

    A family has three children. One is slower academically. No one knows why. The other two are academic stars. Does the family invest in the slower child’s education to bring him or her up to speed and financial independence eventually when the payout for the family or the child is uncertain? Or does the family put its money and time into the first two because they are a sure bet?

    This is really difficult. And public schools are making such decisions every day.

    We bring back and legitimize trade school options and celebrate students who go into those fields again.  We are desperate for skilled trades in this country and the “everybody should be able to go to college” movement was ridiculous.   I’m a huge Mike Rowe fan for this reason, and am psyched that our school system has begun to celebrate all choices made by graduating seniors (college, trade school, military, etc) rather than just the college bound seniors.

     

    • #15
  16. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Better to call it ‘High Performance Group’ or ‘Achievement Group’ or something like that, rather than ‘Ability Group’.  Focus on what the individual *does* rather than some attempt to evaluate who his *is*.

    Peter Drucker wrote, decades ago, about the bad effects of evaluating people by potential rather than by performance.

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The Other Diane (View Comment):
    We bring back and legitimize trade school options and celebrate students who go into those fields again.  We are desperate for skilled trades in this country and the “everybody should be able to go to college” movement was ridiculous.   I’m a huge Mike Rowe fan for this reason, and am psyched that our school system has begun to celebrate all choices made by graduating seniors (college, trade school, military, etc) rather than just the college bound seniors.

    I’m a loyal fan of Mike Rowe too. :-) Our tech schools on Cape Cod–we have three of them–have long waiting lists to get in. :-) 

    • #17
  18. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Better to call it ‘High Performance Group’ or ‘Achievement Group’ or something like that, rather than ‘Ability Group’. Focus on what the individual *does* rather than some attempt to evaluate who his *is*.

    Peter Drucker wrote, decades ago, about the bad effects of evaluating people by potential rather than by performance.

    Exactly. 

    • #18
  19. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Potential-based systems (tests based on aptitude) are inherently biased and unfair.

    Except that IQ tests are good predictors of performance. Not perfect, but pretty good. The mistake is to treat IQ (and other) tests as entirely perfect predictors: Teachers should always watch for kids who show signs of being able to do well in a more advanced track.

    • #19
  20. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I am not sure what other districts do, but IQ scores are generally unavailable to teacher in the Seattle School District. School psychs have them, and they are usually part of a psych eval. They are certainly not a perfect predictor, but they can confirm conclusions drawn from more pragmatic data.

    • #20
  21. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    The Other Diane (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The questions regarding children and educational resources are the most difficult questions families and society ever face.

    A family has three children. One is slower academically. No one knows why. The other two are academic stars. Does the family invest in the slower child’s education to bring him or her up to speed and financial independence eventually when the payout for the family or the child is uncertain? Or does the family put its money and time into the first two because they are a sure bet?

    This is really difficult. And public schools are making such decisions every day.

    We bring back and legitimize trade school options and celebrate students who go into those fields again. We are desperate for skilled trades in this country and the “everybody should be able to go to college” movement was ridiculous. I’m a huge Mike Rowe fan for this reason, and am psyched that our school system has begun to celebrate all choices made by graduating seniors (college, trade school, military, etc) rather than just the college bound seniors.

    And we must not make the mistake of thinking of the trade school option as a consolation prize for “slow” students: Look at all the successful scholars who are not competent in any skill that might be classified as “trade school”.

    • #21
  22. The Other Diane Coolidge
    The Other Diane
    @TheOtherDiane

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    The Other Diane (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The questions regarding children and educational resources are the most difficult questions families and society ever face.

    A family has three children. One is slower academically. No one knows why. The other two are academic stars. Does the family invest in the slower child’s education to bring him or her up to speed and financial independence eventually when the payout for the family or the child is uncertain? Or does the family put its money and time into the first two because they are a sure bet?

    This is really difficult. And public schools are making such decisions every day.

    We bring back and legitimize trade school options and celebrate students who go into those fields again. We are desperate for skilled trades in this country and the “everybody should be able to go to college” movement was ridiculous. I’m a huge Mike Rowe fan for this reason, and am psyched that our school system has begun to celebrate all choices made by graduating seniors (college, trade school, military, etc) rather than just the college bound seniors.

    And we must not make the mistake of thinking of the trade school option as a consolation prize for “slow” students: Look at all the successful scholars who are not competent in any skill that might be classified as “trade school”.

    Exactly.  The 30ish A/C repair guy we have in the NC mountainswas a product of a gifted and talented K-12 program and he is still insecure about the reactions he has received about becoming an A/C specialist. He was sent by his company to what he described as a difficult program in Maryland to learn his systems in depth, and is on his way to taking over a very successful business, but because he didn’t take the traditional postsecondary route people he knows from his school days still question his career decisions.  That comes from those real of “everybody can go to college” (and should, it was strongly implied!)

    • #22
  23. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    The Other Diane (View Comment):
    That comes from those real of “everybody can go to college” (and should, it was strongly implied!)

    Yes indeed. The attitude that only a college based career was deserving of respect pervaded the school system–and especially academia–so that Ed school graduates’ brains had been thoroughly marinated in that nonsense. Of course, that attitude was not due only to class snobbery: crass self-interest also played a role, as “everyone must go to college” meant more jobs for people who wanted to be college professors.

    As I recall the intellectuals of Classical Greece looked down on mere technes. Ricochet readers who are more deeply familiar with the Classical world might be able to elaborate on that.

    • #23
  24. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    The Other Diane (View Comment):
    Exactly.  The about 30ish A/C repair guy we have in the NC mountainswas a product of a gifted and talented K-12 program and he is still insecure about the reactions she has received about becoming an A/C specialist.

    He might appreciate Victor Davis Hanson’s remarks on this subject, insisting on the deep respect that such people deserve and deploring the snobbish and ignorant disdain of most academics.

    • #24
  25. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    More great comments. So one of ours went to public schools his last 3 years of high school.  One a high performing school in SF (a junior Lowell, lots of motivated Asian students) and one in Montgomery County, Maryland. Very good schools.  But one think I learned from interacting with the public school teachers said it all:  in public schools, the customers are the kids. In private schools, the customers are the parents. 

    • #25
  26. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Your post reminded me of a young man who was dating an acquaintance of mine back in the 1970’s. She disapproved of him as she was an English lit major and she loved reading. She would give her boyfriend books to read, and he would “never get around to it.”

    They broke up. He had always struck me as very intelligent but the idea that he didn’t read suggested perhaps he was dyslexic?

    Anyway I ran into him four years or so after they broke up. He had become a semi- successful film maker and did commercial clips for small local businesses to have up on local TV shows. He also put together documentaries of various items like wildlife and nature settings – items that  he was deeply interested in.

    I was so happy to find out this gentle creative and intelligent soul had discovered his niche. While initially I thought the romantic breakup would leave him devastated, it actually freed him from the label she had put on him of being unambitious and stupid.

    • #26
  27. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Achievement-based systems (tests based on what a student can demonstrate he or she knows) are fair ways to make these decisions. I would go along with such a system because it actually creates incentives for students.

    Potential-based systems (tests based on aptitude) are inherently biased and unfair. That said, many teachers and parents know of kids who are so far ahead of the other kids that they are bored to death and not working hard and thus getting consistent Cs. :-) So inspiring these students with a challenge can really help them.

    This makes no sense to me at all.

    How do you test aptitude without a demonstration of ability?  That is precisely how aptitude is measured, by any decent test.

    I also don’t know what you mean by “inherently biased and unfair.”  “Bias” carries the connotation of an unfair comparison.  Aptitude tests certainly favor those with aptitude, but this is not bias and is not unfair.

    Frankly, I think that the aversion to placement tests using IQ is crippling the smarter kids, as lamented in the OP.

    There is one part of the OP that I think is wrong, however:

    Eugene Kriegsmann: So the integrating of students of widely different ability levels does not benefit the poorer students, and, if the teacher’s attentions are being drawn necessarily to those students, the students of higher ability are being deprived of what they need.

    I think that it does benefit the poorer students, in a relative sense.  They are losing the race, so to speak, but they lose by less if the more capable are hindered in their development.

    So the Trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe, and saw.

    I’ve been looking at the educational statistics and scores from the NAEP lately (that’s the National Assessment of Educational Progress).  The news is grim.  I probably need to do a separate post on it.

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  28. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Achievement-based systems (tests based on what a student can demonstrate he or she knows) are fair ways to make these decisions. I would go along with such a system because it actually creates incentives for students.

    Potential-based systems (tests based on aptitude) are inherently biased and unfair. That said, many teachers and parents know of kids who are so far ahead of the other kids that they are bored to death and not working hard and thus getting consistent Cs. :-) So inspiring these students with a challenge can really help them.

    This makes no sense to me at all.

    How do you test aptitude without a demonstration of ability? That is precisely how aptitude is measured, by any decent test.

    I also don’t know what you mean by “inherently biased and unfair.” “Bias” carries the connotation of an unfair comparison. Aptitude tests certainly favor those with aptitude, but this is not bias and is not unfair.

    Frankly, I think that the aversion to placement tests using IQ is crippling the smarter kids, as lamented in the OP.

    There is one part of the OP that I think is wrong, however:

    Eugene Kriegsmann: So the integrating of students of widely different ability levels does not benefit the poorer students, and, if the teacher’s attentions are being drawn necessarily to those students, the students of higher ability are being deprived of what they need.

    I think that it does benefit the poorer students, in a relative sense. They are losing the race, so to speak, but they lose by less if the more capable are hindered in their development.

    So the Trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe, and saw.

    I’ve been looking at the educational statistics and scores from the NAEP lately (that’s the National Assessment of Educational Progress). The news is grim. I probably need to do a separate post on it.

    Bonus points for the Rush reference.

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  29. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I think that it does benefit the poorer students, in a relative sense.  They are losing the race, so to speak, but they lose by less if the more capable are hindered in their development.

    So the Trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe, and saw.

    What you are describing is “equity”, exactly what the left is selling. However, I don’t think that lowering the development of the more qualified students really narrows the gap since the weaker students, as I mentioned, also lose skills in the process since they are not practicing things they do know how to do while trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to learn new skills. The whole process ends up damaging both ends of the spectrum. 

     

    • #29
  30. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    How do you test aptitude without a demonstration of ability?  That is precisely how aptitude is measured, by any decent test.

    I agree. That’s why I prefer achievement tests. 

    A child’s potential is between him or her, his or her parents, and God. 

    Public schools, which are de facto government agencies, should not be testing children’s IQ. 

    That’s my opinion anyway. We can assume aptitude exists in areas in which students are demonstrating achievement. We don’t need any more information about our fellow citizens. 

     

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