Wednesday, July 18, 2007

So here is a question

It appears that NCLB might be encouraging teachers to teach to the "bubble kids", the kids in the middle, the ones who need just a little effort to score proficient.

My question is this: economically where should our we concentrate our efforts in this country? Does it make more sense to concentrate on the brightest 1/3 of our students who arguably will contribute the most to innovation and development? Perhaps raising the middle 1/3 is the best answer, after all these are the ones who will form the vast bulk of our middle class. Does the cost of raising the achievement of the lower 1/3 outweigh the benefits? I know that ideally we would give all kids a superior education, but until the country moves to a value added system that take into account progress at all academic levels, any policy is going to result in the system targeting specific groups. Just a hypothetical question...

Update: Matt Johnson churns out a well reasoned argument for concentrating on the bottom 1/3. Go read his post for the full scoop.

I am going to play devils advocate and say that we should spend most of our energy on the middle 1/3. Like Matt, I agree that the top 1/3 will be OK anyway, but my argument is that $1 spent on the middle 1/3 will give more return than $1 spent on the bottom 1/3. Of course like Matt says, throwing money alone at a problem isn't going to solve anything, what we really need is pedagogy reform. (Disclaimer: I actually don't believe this, but that's why we call it being a devils advocate.)

4 comments:

Tony said...

I guess it all depends on how you want to look at it. If your goal is to improve the economy, than using P/E ratios and cost-benefit analysis would be the way to go. Employ the 80/20 rule and spend most of your energy raising the middle.

If your goal is simply preparing kids for college, you'll target the same kids for different reasons.

If your goal is producing capable, analytic thinkers with a healthy base of knowledge and skills required of participants in a democratic society, then a value added system is the way to go.

I prefer the latter, more expensive, harder to quantify approach, but lately I feel like I'm shouting at the wind.

Matt Johnston said...

I would focus on the bottom one third for reasons to lengthly to talk about here, but can be read over at my blog: http://mattjohnston.blogspot.com/2007/07/where-to-focus-educational-resources.html

nbosch said...

I vote for offering each group resources---but different resources for each group. Why do we always have to be so "fair". Give each kid what he/she needs.

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