Tuesday, May 29, 2007

NCGA: No Child Gets Ahead

Promising miracles at Joanne Jacobs

Joanne Jacobs, points to an article in Education Next that mentioned one of my pet peeves, academic acceleration, or the lack of it in our schools.

"accelerating instruction for the 2 percent of students capable of benefiting from it."
BS... I think that at least 15 to 20% of students would benefit from academic acceleration. Walk into any middle class classroom in this country and there will be at least that many students who are bored and ready to move on while the teacher remediates the rest of the class.

Besides, there is no true acceleration in this country. Those who would point to things like 7th and 8th grade algebra as acceleration are wrong... that is advancement, not acceleration. It still takes 3 years for these kids to get to Calculus, just like it would take 3 years for a student who started Algebra I in 10th grade.

True acceleration would have students progress through a years worth of study in say 6 - 9 months. If acceleration was done properly, there would be a cumulative effect; each year accelerated students would be further and further ahead of their peers in standard paced classes.

I also ran across this article JS ONLINE: Law lacks direction for gifted students pointing out that Gifted Education is haphazard in this country.

What the law doesn't mandate is how students such as Adam will be educated - even though state legislators have identified programming for students with gifts and talents as one of 20 essential components of public education. The result? A mixed bag of approaches for how Wisconsin students identified as gifted are educated. Some are taught in regular classes with alternative activities to help speed them through lessons. Others are pulled out of class for about an hour a week of special instruction. Some may find a spot in a magnet program with other gifted students. And others get no special instruction at all.
While I am a supporter of No Child Left Behind and its high expectations and accountability requirements, I can't help but wonder if it should also be referred to as the No Child Gets Ahead.

I am starting to think that Gifted and Talented programs should just be eliminated in our schools. If schools truly served the needs of all students, there would be no need for "named" programs, just high quality education that best serves all students reguardless of abilities.

p.s. I accidently posted this here at KTM, I forgot to change the dropdown box on the blogger window, sorry.


nbosch said...

Me again--I agree with you but I actually think upwards of 50% of kiddos could move at a faster pace, maybe not "bullet train" but faster.

Your idea of moving through the curriculum quickly is flawed because you imply that the next year they'd be ahead and ready to pick it up from where they left off...what are they going to do from February til the next September?

You might be interested in looking into “curriculum compacting” http://www.sp.uconn.edu/~nrcgt/news/fall99/fall996.html which might over come some of the inherent problems with acceleration. (see my response to Exo on 5-27 Acceleration vs. Enrichment that starts …"OK, now we have this forward moving group. Some are moving faster in math, some reading, some computers, some history, some science, some art, some music. Are you going to be the person that schedules these kiddos into classes with teachers qualified to teach them?")

If your child was doing the course material at an appropriate pace and then allowed to do real and relevant study in lieu of already mastered material, would you be OK with that? One and a half days left til "School's Out For The Summer". N

Parentalcation said...

There is one flaw in your argument. Schools are expected to accelerate low performing students to catch them up.

Making an ideal acceleration program work would be a challenge, but so is educating low SES students. We should try.

Ok... once and for all I am going to end the enrichment vs acceleration debate with you. How about a compromise.

We accelerate math, and enrich all other subjects (as long as its more than hokey pokey fluffy enrichment)... deal?

nbosch said...

Deal--I do have to say that you have given me a lot to think about over the last few days. About 10 years ago I decided that a meaningful program for gifted kiddos must be differentiated, and something that would be challenging enough for only them to do--otherwise there would be no need for services. I gave up the "All About Me" mobiles and "Endangered Animal" Powerpoints and look for real and relevant options. BUT, you have made me think about what that differentiation looks like, I will continue to think about this as I write my curriculum for next year. Thanks for making an old lady (OK, mature lady) think. N

Parentalcation said...

Your welcome nbosch, you have are a great debater.

When I read your first post, I assumed you were going to be an easy mark... you certainly proved me wrong.

I was tempted to post your list of benefits to the grave project...

nbosch said...

I thought I was going to be an easy mark, too! I live in a house with a debater husband of 35 years and temporarily have a grown lawyer son and a grown philosopher son living at home--so our dinner time discussions are lively! I usually just stay quiet but obviously you got me going! Thanks for the debate and let me know if you ever want the "right" answers about anything that has to do with gifted education! Have a good summer, I'll be checking back with you often to keep you in line! N