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    #204701 - 11/02/14 03:19 AM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: 22B]
    Tigerle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/14
    Posts: 602
    Loc: Europe
    Originally Posted By: 22B
    [quote=Tigerle]Ideally, each
    In our school district, the majority of public school students are at or near the poverty level, and many school districts in the US are like this. I know you're in Europe, but you're comments make it obvious you are very unfamiliar with the demographics of the US public school population, because obviously you cannot possibly make every classroom "majority middle class" when the overwhelming majority of students are poor. There has been a mass exodus from the public school system for anyone who can escape. To get them to return they need to find the classrooms and schools and surroundings to be acceptable places to put their children, in particular they should be safe with few discipline problems, and they need to have decent educational standards. This necessitates abandoning any notion of SES and other quotas. In particular, gifted classes should be based on ability/achievement and if the gifted population differs demographically from the general population, then so be it. There are no legitimate grounds for regarding that demographic difference as being any kind of problem.


    Actually, most of the research on the subject I've read has been compiled by Americans. Check out "The future of school integration", edited by Richard kahlenberg, or the controversy about the wake county school district. There is extensive research on where it is possible to integrate schools by SES within district and across school district lines, and where it is not possible to create ALL middle class majority schools, it is at least possible to significantly reduce the impact of poverty concentration. The numbers are out there, and I am familiar with them. As I have stated in another thread, it is not my place to criticize another nations education system or policies, but I have considered this a theoretical discussion, with all posters offering their thoughts about gifted education and its relation to SES integration in a perfect world. No offense meant, and hopefully, none taken!
    Classroom composition effects by SES of children's parents on children's achievement are huge, as big as the effect that SES of the child's own family, but whereas the latter is a law of nature (and nurture) and completely legitimate, classroom composition is not. District lines and residential segregation aren't laws of nature either, all can be influenced by policy, policies that can however only be successful if the interests of the middle and high SES children are convincingly protected. Thus, quotas,to protect everyone from the insidious effect of high poverty concentration - among other measures, one of which must be ability grouping, but not by district, as it were.
    To now move onto the actual topic, creating majority middle class classrooms for everyone should not have to affect gifted education at all, the gifted being defined as comprising only two percent of the population, thus negligible in terms of critical mass. Which I am sure we are perfectly in agreement on. What I am getting at with all this is hat in the classrooms, majorities count, and it is disingenuous of policy makers to pretend that they count only for children of low achievement or low SES.
    So, a 2 percent slice of gifted kids in every city in a congregated program by third grade, and in larger cities, the 0.1 percent slice of the HG+: there is no excuse whatsoever to not have these classrooms, or to want to "spread" the gifted kids to raise achievement by offering opportunities for teachers to "spark off" in lower achieving classrooms, they can't, they won't, the shouldn't have to. Gifted clusters can be established below third grade, in semi rural and rural areas which do not have the critical masses for self contained classrooms beyond third grade, Montessori style elements can be used to have kids work at their own pace. None of which can reasonably be denied by doing anybody harm.
    I happen to live in a country which has among the highest segregation by SES in secondary schools, simply by virtue of rigorous achievement tracking. No dime changing hands, not even indirectly via property taxes, access to high achievement track is free and guaranteed if low SES children show the achievement. They don't. So I am perfectly familiar with the dilemma of SES integration versus achievement or ability grouping. You can't square that circle for the gifted, nor should you have to, maybe not even for the high achieving above the 75th percentile or so. But classrooms composed of low SES low achievers all of the time are harmful for anyone.
    Just as the OP has observed for their own school, there has been enormous pressure on the high achievement tracks in this country to expand, so much so that is comprises 50% or more in some parts of the country, with extreme pressure on children in the last year off elementary school to achieve the necessary GPA. However, apart from lake wobegon, more than 50% cannot be above average in achievement, and with the standards suddenly higher than elementary school and children unable to keep up even with hard work, tutoring and parental pressure, there has been very much a dilution effect, with teachers complaining that standard sad are slipping and they have to spend too much time with the lower achievers, and parents claiming that standards are too high and children have to work too hard (switching into a less prestigious track of course not being an option - that dreaded low SES majority awaiting there!). On the good side, this has created a much needed push towards differentiation and individualisation, but what has worked for the bottom now needs to be expanded towards the top. With the option of the congregated gifted classroom - ideally for the top 2 % and the top 0.1 % where possible.
    Ah, the perfect world...



    Edited by Tigerle (11/02/14 03:42 AM)

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    #204702 - 11/02/14 05:48 AM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: Quantum2003]
    22B Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/10/13
    Posts: 1228
    Tigerle, could you be more specific about what exactly you see as the problems with classrooms and/or schools with a high proportion of low SES? What exactly are the characteristics that are the problem? The answer can't just be that "low SES" itself is the problem. It has to be other things, and these other things need to be made explicit.

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    #204705 - 11/02/14 06:06 AM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: Quantum2003]
    Zen Scanner Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    In a large US urban district with a strong differentiation philosophy and a very robust magnet system, we see a lot of these "perfect world" effects self-select. There are of course the private schools drawing off the highest ses, and the three public IB middle schools designated for gifted track are located in a low, middle, and high income area. And there is an HG program located at one of the schools.

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    #204706 - 11/02/14 06:17 AM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: Quantum2003]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4292
    Quote:
    assignments are also more open-ended... a student may choose to do more research and/or produce a lengthier or more complex product... different levels of abilities are more apparent in the final products
    Interesting that this was the description for "differentiated work products".

    Differentiation is the term most often used to refer to a teaching strategy, pedagogy, or construct in which there are different expectations, demands, rigor for different students to achieve the same grade. For example, the assignment may be different and/or different grading rubrics may be used. This is typically NOT what gifted students need, want, benefit from in the long term, or advocate for. The extra-work-for-the-same-grade differentiation in task demands often feels punitive and may lead to burn out by providing the "challenge" of futility, causing students to deny their giftedness and hide their potential.

    Variability is the term most often used to refer to the range of quality among student work products, when that difference springs from student choice (and not from the dictates of differentiated task demands). For example, students would be given the same assignment and grading rubric. Based on your post, this seems to more closely match what you describe seeing in your child's middle school.

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    #204715 - 11/02/14 10:04 AM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: 22B]
    Tigerle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/14
    Posts: 602
    Loc: Europe
    Originally Posted By: 22B
    Tigerle, could you be more specific about what exactly you see as the problems with classrooms and/or schools with a high proportion of low SES? What exactly are the characteristics that are the problem? The answer can't just be that "low SES" itself is the problem. It has to be other things, and these other things need to be made explicit.

    Oh, absolutely. Though only if I may refer you to the research - this is not what *I* see as the problems, though I see them playing out in schools, of course. And I may not have them all at the tip of my tongue, so take these as examples. This isn't rocket science though, a lot of it is a no brainer and perfectly familiar to very one here - after all, this is how parents have always selected "good" schools.
    There are peer effects, mostly vocabulary: high SES peers, due to early childhood exposure, bring a much bigger and more sophisticated vocabulary to the classroom - however, the low SES peers can only benefit if the classroom discussion is at the level of their higher SES peers, hence the need for the majority. Also, the more motivated and well behaved peers there are, the better the classroom atmosphere and the more learning Is going on. Ability cannot rub off, but motivation and behaviour can - if there is peer pressure from a majority! All of this works the other way round, too, after all.
    There are teacher effects: higher expectations in higher SES schools, educated parents who keep teachers on their toes (also a parent effect, if you will). Parents who expect achievement from their children, creating an atmosphere in which learning is valued. Effects specific to school systems, such as availability of AP classes children may strive for, or, in a tracked system like mine, striving for placement in higher tracks. I think in another thread there was the example of kids in low SES schools not being aware that the needed to take the SAT in order to apply to a elective college - impossible in a higher SES school. There is also extensive research that even high achieving low income kids from low SES schools may not apply to selective colleges over community colleges or for profit schools, though they do much better if they do.
    All of this is cultural - there are also financial effects when higher SES schools have better resources, but these can be compensated for and sometimes are. The cultural effects that middle and high SES families have on schools cannot be recreated easily.
    I'm sure there's more, but you get the drift.
    Of course, whether to turn this into a policy as opposed to let every family scramble for the highest SES school they can access, is a political question. I like the idea that every child deserves a school that has a culture conducive to learning, just as every child deserves to be taught at their level. No child should go to a particular school or be in a particular classroom so that other children can learn better. However, I think quotas could be a way to ensure that most (not all) children have to make that trade off.


    Edited by Tigerle (11/02/14 10:11 AM)

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    #204716 - 11/02/14 11:16 AM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: Tigerle]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    We between the poorest school in town and the richest (student family income as the poor school gets more funding). The poor school has a lot of refugee children and a lot of children from problem households. Our income is a lot closer to that of the poorer school though. Should my gifted kids be forced to attend that school because I am a single parent who doesn't earn much?

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    #204717 - 11/02/14 11:33 AM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: Tigerle]
    DeeDee Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/16/10
    Posts: 2498
    Originally Posted By: Tigerle
    I like the idea that every child deserves a school that has a culture conducive to learning, just as every child deserves to be taught at their level.


    This far, and this far only, I agree with you.

    In my view, you are lumping many factors into SES that are best treated separately.

    Most troubling to me is the idea that poor children drag down the system for "our" children. I am committed to that idea that "all children should get an appropriate education." That is a far cry from saying that poor children should generally get less opportunity because they are less capable. That is the language of inferiority we've heard all too often in the past, and in my view, thinking this way does not help children-- "ours" or "theirs."

    (NB: They're all "ours"-- our neighbors, our students, our eventual colleagues, and the nurse who will look after us when we need her.)

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    #204722 - 11/02/14 01:50 PM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: DeeDee]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: DeeDee
    Originally Posted By: Tigerle
    I like the idea that every child deserves a school that has a culture conducive to learning, just as every child deserves to be taught at their level.


    This far, and this far only, I agree with you.

    In my view, you are lumping many factors into SES that are best treated separately.


    I agree with DeeDee that you are lumping many factors together that are best treated separately.

    I'm going to add a few comments to your thoughts (Tigerle) but please know my reply is only from my experience in one school district in one city in one region of the US - there is so much variability across the US that none of us can really speak for others re experiences. My experience and knowledge is based on having close friends who are teaching in my cities' challenged lower SES elementary schools, and having acquaintances who have taught in our lower SES high schools. As I've mentioned previously, I live in a school district in which neighborhoods, and hence neighborhood schools, are highly segregated by family income. I've also spent a lot of time tutoring children in lower SES schools where the challenges of living in poverty is a huge issue for families.

    Originally Posted By: tigerle
    Also, the more motivated and well behaved peers there are, the better the classroom atmosphere and the more learning Is going on. Ability cannot rub off, but motivation and behaviour can - if there is peer pressure from a majority! All of this works the other way round, too, after all.


    This sounds like you are making an assumption here that students from lower SES schools are not as well-behaved or motivated as children of higher SES parents. I haven't seen this to be true *at all* in real life. It's true that it's easier for motivated students to learn in a classroom where the other children are staying on task and are motivated, and I've seen this issue being a challenge for my ds in particular… in an elementary school classroom that was made up largely of middle-higher SES children.

    There are absolutely challenges for lower SES children that may impact behavior in school as a secondary effect: hunger, getting to school, staying up late, not having attention from parents because of parents both working, sometimes working multiple jobs etc. Those challenges *might* impact behavior in a way that has an impact in the classroom, but the impact is secondary. It's not something inherent with who the children are. Conversely, there is no guarantee that a child from a higher income SES is going to be well-behaved and motivated.

    Originally Posted By: tigerle
    There are teacher effects: higher expectations in higher SES schools


    This can potentially be an issue, and it has been an issue in some areas at different points in time, but I think it's also important to recognize that there are school districts and individual educators who are trying (REALLY trying) to counteract this. Our school district focuses a tremendous amount of energy and effort toward raising our overall (for the whole district) graduation rate and puts staff effort, dollars, you name it, toward helping high school students set high expectations for post-high-school education and careers. There really is in many ways, probably *more* effort going into making sure this information and cheerleading is taking place in the schools where parents might not have the same high expectations for their children. Likewise extra staff, extra attention, extra program funding etc is going into the neighborhood elementary schools where lower SES children live and where historically early reading and overall achievement has been lower. Our school district may not have all the answers, and they may not be providing the ideal solution for every student, but there is no question that they have expectations for each student and that they believe students can achieve, no matter their background.

    My gut feeling is that low expectations most likely happen with staff members who wouldn't be all that high-functioning in a "high SES" school. Although most teachers I've known truly care about the students they teach, I overheard friends talking long ago, before my children were in school, that no matter what school your child is in, no matter how you try to avoid it, at some point in time they will have a teacher who is simply, not all that great. That's been our experience, and I've also heard that echoed from my friends who teach in the low SES neighborhood elementary schools. But that's just one or two teachers per school. Most of the people who go into teaching as a career, and who stick with it, are there because they genuinely care about students as *people*. Even students who come from very challenging backgrounds.

    Originally Posted By: DeeDee
    Most troubling to me is the idea that poor children drag down the system for "our" children. I am committed to that idea that "all children should get an appropriate education." That is a far cry from saying that poor children should generally get less opportunity because they are less capable. That is the language of inferiority we've heard all too often in the past, and in my view, thinking this way does not help children-- "ours" or "theirs."

    (NB: They're all "ours"-- our neighbors, our students, our eventual colleagues, and the nurse who will look after us when we need her.)


    ITA with DeeDee, and very well said smile

    polarbear

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    #204723 - 11/02/14 03:29 PM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: polarbear]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    I realised today that education has become such a political thing that what the teachers claim may bear no relation to what they believe.The system requires yes men who can make a 180 degree switch without breaking step. While I believe most of them care about the kids they care about their own survival more.

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    #204730 - 11/02/14 07:22 PM Re: More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools [Re: Quantum2003]
    it_is_2day Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/14/14
    Posts: 149
    7,9,5,7,5,9,11,5,6,5,6,13,5,4,10,7,2,5,6,6,11,6,5,8,
    6,4,9,11,4,11,4,6,5,6,7,5,4,7,5,4,7,4,8,6,4,5,6,11,14,7

    I ran a Monte Carlo 50 iterations of 6000 people to see a distribution how many within the population would score above 99.9% level on something. So, in these hypothetic 50 populations of 6000. A cases with as few as 2 occurred, and a case as high as 14 occurred. This simple analysis shows that there are some serious forecasting difficulties that even a large district could expect planning for highly gifted individuals.
    Of course, this is just a Monte Carlo simulation.


    Edited by it_is_2day (11/02/14 07:24 PM)

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