When Everyone Loves the School, but You??

Posted by: Mom2Two

When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 08:07 AM

When you go to a neighborhood public school that is highly ranked (one of the best in the country based on test scores), but your kid isn't learning and is unhappy, how to you calibrate that in your mind?

Two/Thirds of students are in GT Math at this school (no exaggeration - I did the math), but no one seems to notice that almost everyone is GT. Everyone just runs around going "oooh, gt." But last month, they stopped moving forward to spend a month reviewing VERY basic skills. Clearly a good percentage weren't getting it.

So, my kid is bored which makes me frustrated with the school. I really like all the people there, but academically it isn't working.

So, when people go on and on about how great the school is, I have trouble. How do you answer? How do you deal with these conversations? I'm finding that I isolate myself from other parents, which I'm finding isn't helpful either.

When everyone loves the school, but you. How do you have it all make sense in your head. Is something wrong with your child, other people, education, etc.?
Posted by: ConnectingDots

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 08:16 AM

We had that last year with a private school that is very highly regarded (think rigor and for g/t kids with the right personality, a good fit). I learned recently we aren't the only ones who have pulled gifted kids out, which made me feel better.

We live in a very highly ranked, popular school system whose g/t seems to be mostly pullouts starting in third grade. I was unimpressed with what I read and so DS is in a second, parochial school and doing well.

I'm also not a fan of relying too heavily on school test scores. What I want for my children is critical thinking, interpersonal skills and learning capabilities... not easily measured on a standardized test.

It is difficult to know what to say, since everyone assumes we live where we do because of the great schools. What we are doing makes sense in my head for now, but that doesn't make conversations with others easier. I usually leave it at a good fit we stumbled across (true) and convenient to our other child's childcare center (true).

I have found little evidence that public education in general is optimal for most children. There are better methods but they don't seem to be widely implemented.
Posted by: blackcat

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 08:33 AM

I think that parents of average kids are going to find schools like this great. The 60 percent (or maybe even 80 percent) of the kids right in the middle are served well. As for the other 20 percent....the parents have either accepted the situation, or they don't want to talk about it because then they will look like one of "those" parents. The parents who brag about how smart their kid is, or the pushy tiger parent. I have told very few people how I feel because generally they are one of those 80 percent and they cannot relate to my concerns at all. Our area does have a gifted chapter where parents can discuss things more openly, and that helped me to realize that I'm not the only one with frustrations.
Posted by: bluemagic

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:11 AM

We have that situation with our local H.S. for DS. And I remember my mother having this problem with the school district we moved into when I was 8. And we had that problem with what was supposed to be a wonderful 6th grade GT teacher who sent my son into therapy and gave another friend headaches.

It depends on the situation. When I talk about the "wonderful" 6th grade teacher I mention that this teacher's teaching style didn't work for my son. I talk about how the class & teacher serve two styles of students the gifted and the highly motivated. The highly motivated work great in his class, the but in particularly the GT boys struggle under the organizational skills this teacher expects.

As to the H.S. it's easy because while the school has a reputation for being excellent, but it also has a local reputation for eating GT kid alive. So not everyone things you are odd for complaining. This school worked fairly well for my older DD so I do have good things to say about it. There are some really excellent teachers, and there is a large cohort of other GT kids. But the group of kids who struggle the most with the school are the GT kids who aren't as intrinsically motivated.

I think the issue is that if your child is really HG/PG it's hard to find ANY school that is going to work well. Things will always be a bit of a compromise. I always try and talk about the specifics I don't like. Particular inflexibility, the district refusing to consider any GT program till the kid are in 4th grade. I just mentioned to someone yesterday that the reason a educational options isn't available to my son is that I feel our district is a bit "stuck up". They think that since they are so "excellent", have such great test schools they are serving the needs of all their students and don't need to offer additional options.
Posted by: KTPie

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:31 AM

This is us, too! We moved here for the district and our schools are top-ranked, often highlighted in various magazines. The elementary school that my eldest is at just won a national award and five teachers were picked to go to DC to receive it from the President. No one can understand why I would homeschool in this community and I often find myself wondering if it's just us. I think, like bluemagic said, we have outliers and it's hard to find a school that will work.
Posted by: cmguy

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:32 AM

Yup. Got this situation too. Great neighborhood school within walking distance. After testing we were advised not to use it ... ever. In fact we were advised not to use most schools in our area ever.

In our district the "GT" population is something like 10% of the kids (maybe this is political - it would be hard to get support for programs for 2% of the kids I guess).
Posted by: master of none

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:37 AM

There are surely some things you love about the school starting with how happy and upbeat the other parents are. Also, I can assure you that not all parents are happy with the level of work. At least in our schools, the average kids were totally left out and those kids moved to private. And the commercialism. Those kids moved to private too. So, you are just seeing the ones who are left.

When there are lots of GT kids, there are lots of parents who are shocked their kid is in it as a slightly above average achiever. They are probably the ones doing the talking. And remember that large numbers of GT kids means political clout. The school board is less likely to abandon the program like many have. But it also means that the GT program is for 85%tile and up (yes that's the aim), which in lake wobegone where everyone is above average, means a very high percentage in GT, especially if it's based on parent push or teacher recs rather than test scores.

So, what I'd say is fill that glass til it's half full. See the teachers are so loving and enthusiastic. Bullying is under control. There are parties every other day. Or whatever is true about your school. Look for the positives. Academics is just one part of the larger community. But if it's a major drag on your son, you may just need to opt out. Good luck convincing these happy people that your son could possibly be unhappy.

Advocacy in these happy schools takes a lot of rah-rah cheerleading followed by "this tiny piece is just not working for us, but everything else is golden. Go team!".
Posted by: MegMeg

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:43 AM

I've had to learn the art of being insincere. Believe me, that doesn't come easy to me! We live a 1 minute walk away from the best school in the district, and almost everyone in my close-knit neighborhood sends their kids there. All the parents of MG kids rave about it. Makes for some awkward conversations. I've simply memorized a patter about it, tagging the bases of "personal fit" and my daughter needing a small school.

But it's a fine line. When they ask what grade she's in and I say 1st, and they get edgy and start probing for more information, I casually mention that she's in a combined K/1st classroom and they visibly relax. Anyway, I've started to realize I have this conversation in front of DD sometimes, and it sends her a message that I don't like. It's tricky.
Posted by: Val

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Mom2Two
When you go to a neighborhood public school that is highly ranked (one of the best in the country based on test scores), but your kid isn't learning and is unhappy, how to you calibrate that in your mind?

When everyone loves the school, but you. How do you have it all make sense in your head. Is something wrong with your child, other people, education, etc.?


We're in a situation like this. I remind myself that for most people, the school is a wonderful fit for their kids, which would make naturally them happy. So that's one thing.

HG+ kids are rare and often don't fit the picture of "gifted" that a school may have (high-achiever, teacher pleaser). So from the school's perspective, my kid's not gifted and we parental units are big pains. That educators don't know about levels of giftedness in their own field is their failing, of course.

As rare as HG+ kids are, so are parents who can see that a curriculum (or parts of it) really isn't up to par. IMO, this is a huge problem in the United States (no idea about elsewhere). If people have never been taught mathematics properly, they don't know what's wrong with presenting a recipe, assigning a worksheet, and moving on to the next recipe. Ditto for reading a passage and answering some multiple choice questions asking Which statement best describes...? The thing is that, schools and most of the parents really truly don't see that this approach is a problem.

frown

In answer to your question, I gave up trying. There's no point, and others just get angry at me. Though finding other gifties can help with stress.
Posted by: ashley

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:55 AM

Our local PS maxes the test scores (STAR/highest state level API) every single year. Most kids are really smart and 60% or more are in pull outs for acceleration starting in 3rd grade. My child was unchallenged even with "differentiation". We pulled him out and put him in the most rigorous private school we could find and he is happier. We do loads and loads of afterschooling still.
The parents in my neighborhood think that we are crazy as everyone pays high property prices and property taxes to live there and to pay private school fees on top of that is not normal. We quickly become objects of curiosity and people flock around us to figure out what exactly was wrong with the excellent school for us to pull our son out of it. They go into data collection mode to gather any information about the school that they may have missed. They are used to being envied for sending their child to that same school.
We tell them as little as possible - but to coworkers and neighbors who are very persistent, we say that my child had behavior problems in that setting and the teachers did very little to help with those issues (true in our case - my child was bored, unchallenged and trying to entertain himself all day long with the teachers not doing much to help). That seems to make these parents happy - because we look like the parents of a kid with a problem who needed to be pulled out of the "very, very good PS".
Public school kids from my school district routinely go to the Ivies and a lot of them go to afterschool places for tutoring in academics, so most kids look really advanced. But, having volunteered in the classroom and seen how little my son was gaining in terms of intellectual stimulation, I am prepared to stay out of such a system.
PS is not ideal for a child who can learn at a faster pace than the average child.
When we met the parents with kids in the private schools, we realized that there are many who went through the same experience as us, but they don't talk about it much in a public setting.
Posted by: NotSoGifted

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 09:56 AM

I agree with MON. I'll add that I think in truly high achieving districts, there are quite a few actual GT kids. Middle kid did not look GT in early elementary. Now in 10th grade, folks know she is smart, but are quite surprised when they see her standardized test scores (we don't advertise them, but travel sports teams "publish" SAT/ACT scores on their websites), when they find out she placed first nationally in a well known exam, etc.

There may be kids like my middle kid. No, she is not PG, but she is a lot brighter than she lets on. There is still very little challenge in school, except perhaps the English/History class where they really focus on each kid's writing (regular meetings with the teachers to review writing and ID areas to work on).

Sure, there are some kids in your GT math that don't belong there. But I sense that a lot of folks who note that they are in high achieving districts but don't see any true GT kids are still in elementary. You may not realize who is GT. Even last year, when my eldest was a HS senior, I didn't recognize a few of the NMFs. The ones who have won national academic awards, who have performed research with professors and have published papers - yeah, I know them. But the kid who said that he likes to fish and play video games in his free time - I never realized how bright that kid is.
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 10:03 AM

In answer to your question, I gave up trying. There's no point, and others just get angry at me. Though finding other gifties can help with stress.


QFT. This. So much.

There are a few other parents that get it...

some code phrases that I've found useful in identifying them:

a) "We've found that the flexibility is... not unlimited..."

b) "Sometimes {DD} wishes that the level were more.. rigorous..."

c) "We've had problems with perfectionism and procrastination-- have you noticed that?"

d) "It's not always easy to keep {DD} motivated. What do you find works?"

e) "We've not been too thrilled with {some aspect of curriculum}-- maybe it's just us."
Posted by: playandlearn

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 11:06 AM

I like our neighborhood elementary school, even though neither of my kids learn much of anything there, academically. I think I gave up pretty quickly on the idea that we can rely on schools for our children's education, and I know enough parents who completely agree.

But the school is wonderful in many other ways: dedicated and involved parents who are really very nice and very wise; well behaved and educated kids who take school seriously; lots of cultural and community activities; lots of can-do spirit (many enrichment programs are built and run by parents including academic teams that compete at the national level); a genuine sense of community... The level of classroom instruction is actually quite disappointing to a large number of families, not just limited to the few super smart ones. The reasons include large class size (due to funding shortage), rigid curriculum (district dictated) and of course the fact that most teachers don't really *get* the vast spectrum of abilities.

I enjoy talking with a lot of parents about education in general, educational approaches, other activities... I just don't go into how the academics at school doesn't work for my kids.

Middle school is a different story--the academics still doesn't work and there isn't a feeling of community...

I think the reputation of a "good school" or "good district" doesn't necessarily correlate with strong classroom instructions. It could be due to dedicated families who make sure that their kids develop strong academic skills regardless of what happens in the classroom.
Posted by: Saritz

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 11:10 AM

We send our boys to the local PS because they have fun there with their friends.

Maybe our neighborhood is full of malcontents, but there are people complaining that the kids are pushed to hard, people who complain that there isn't enough creativity in the curriculum, people who complain about too much testing, basically most people are complaining about something and we are among the top 3 schools in our very large district.

I've found that there is a large proportion of parents who smile and nod sympathetically with all 3 groups. I've tried to emulate them. smile I also think HK is right, if you make subtle statements about things you think might be missing, you will find kindred spirits.

My DH and I feel that this PS is good enough that it's worth saving the 20K it would cost us to get into a rigorous private school We are still in elementary and will re-evaluate when we hit MS.

Personally, I'd be happy to homeschool but the kids love their friends. Being an introvert myself, I'm not sure I'd come up with enough social opportunities for them. As it is we do a lot of science experiments after school, and my older DS is a voracious reader. Younger DS loves to play board games.

We make the best of it.
Posted by: epoh

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 01:04 PM

It doesn't matter which school is "the best", just which school is best for your child.

The local public across the street from us is very highly rated. Everyone loves, loves, loves it. People buy houses in our neighborhood just so their kids can attend this school. It was a terrible, terrible fit for DS10. Terrible. He now attends a charter school that is amazing for him. I sometimes hear of other's dissatisfaction with the charter school, but it works for our family.
Posted by: Melessa

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 01:06 PM

As we are pulling ds7 out of public school to attend a hg private next year, this issue hits close to home.

I tell people, "school is great:... Just not working for my son." I honestly think the school is good, but not for ds7 and probably not for ds3.5. (Its good for high achieving and mg kids.)

I really wanted public school to work, but my ds is miserable. Maybe people talk behind my back, but i have to do what is right for my boys.
Posted by: Wesupportgifted

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 01:16 PM

You are highly analytical and, so, your brain automatically finds every problem naturally - a great skill in countless ways.

One trick, if you know you are staying in that school for all of your own private family reasons, then remove yourself as much as possible from the school environment (It is self-isolating, but for a good reason.), so that you do not 'pick up' every shortcoming. There probably is not one perfect place, unless you start your own school, have your own funding, get every teacher that you want who happen to all be Ph.D.s....

When you need to be heard, go ahead and be heard at your school because it will help the whole student body.

If you are always the 'odd person out,' the best think you might do is recognize your great qualities and don't worry about fitting in (my opinion). Pursue your passions, interests, etc. Everything sort of is the way it is for a reason. If you are a high sensitivity person, every rude act that you encounter, might bug you. Give yourself a break. Think longer term, bigger picture. And, then ( it sounds like a contradiction) take it a day at a time, so that you can stay in the moment.

If you are truly unsatisfied with your child's education, then you can evaluate every other possible option. Do a pros and cons matrix. Always know why the choice you have made has been made and don't second guess yourself. When the time comes around re-evaluate and trust yourself.

If your state has a gifted plan, use it once a year to address whatever your biggest concern is that year.

I would also try to plug into why other parents are so satisfied. It might be possible that they are not really monitoring the curriculum in the same way.

You are doing the right thing by being on top of it, thinking about it and weighing it seriously.

Read as much as you can about people in the field your child might go into and see how they handled their career path, especially if it is obvious now that they must have been a very gifted child way back then. That way you might be able to leverage from other persons' autobiographical info. Good Luck!
Posted by: 22B

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 03:22 PM

Sometimes a "good school" is one where almost all students are "proficient" (i.e. meet some mediocre minimum level on academic tests). This just means that one way or another, they have managed to keep out academically weaker students.
Posted by: Mom2Two

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 03:32 PM

Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
In answer to your question, I gave up trying. There's no point, and others just get angry at me. Though finding other gifties can help with stress.




a) "We've found that the flexibility is... not unlimited..."

b) "Sometimes {DD} wishes that the level were more.. rigorous..."

c) "We've had problems with perfectionism and procrastination-- have you noticed that?"

d) "It's not always easy to keep {DD} motivated. What do you find works?"

e) "We've not been too thrilled with {some aspect of curriculum}-- maybe it's just us."



I love these. Great suggestions!
Posted by: Mom2Two

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 03:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Wesupportgifted


One trick, if you know you are staying in that school for all of your own private family reasons, then remove yourself as much as possible from the school environment (It is self-isolating, but for a good reason.), so that you do not 'pick up' every shortcoming. There probably is not one perfect place, unless you start your own school, have your own funding, get every teacher that you want who happen to all be Ph.D.s....

When you need to be heard, go ahead and be heard at your school because it will help the whole student body.

If you are always the 'odd person out,' the best think you might do is recognize your great qualities and don't worry about fitting in (my opinion). Pursue your passions, interests, etc. Everything sort of is the way it is for a reason. If you are a high sensitivity person, every rude act that you encounter, might bug you. Give yourself a break. Think longer term, bigger picture. And, then ( it sounds like a contradiction) take it a day at a time, so that you can stay in the moment.

If you are truly unsatisfied with your child's education, then you can evaluate every other possible option. Do a pros and cons matrix. Always know why the choice you have made has been made and don't second guess yourself. When the time comes around re-evaluate and trust yourself.

If your state has a gifted plan, use it once a year to address whatever your biggest concern is that year.

I would also try to plug into why other parents are so satisfied. It might be possible that they are not really monitoring the curriculum in the same way.

You are doing the right thing by being on top of it, thinking about it and weighing it seriously.

Read as much as you can about people in the field your child might go into and see how they handled their career path, especially if it is obvious now that they must have been a very gifted child way back then. That way you might be able to leverage from other persons' autobiographical info. Good Luck!



Thanks for these suggestions. All good tips. I appreciate it.
Posted by: Mom2Two

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 03:36 PM

Originally Posted By: blackcat
I think that parents of average kids are going to find schools like this great. The 60 percent (or maybe even 80 percent) of the kids right in the middle are served well. As for the other 20 percent....the parents have either accepted the situation, or they don't want to talk about it because then they will look like one of "those" parents. The parents who brag about how smart their kid is, or the pushy tiger parent. I have told very few people how I feel because generally they are one of those 80 percent and they cannot relate to my concerns at all. Our area does have a gifted chapter where parents can discuss things more openly, and that helped me to realize that I'm not the only one with frustrations.


Yes, I agree that it is probably a great school for most. I think I posted to get some perspective and yours and everyone's responses have helped so much.
Posted by: Val

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 03:37 PM

Originally Posted By: 22B
Sometimes a "good school" is one where almost all students are "proficient" (i.e. meet some mediocre minimum level on academic tests). This just means that one way or another, they have managed to keep out academically weaker students.


Ouch! We have a high-performing lottery school in our district. When DS12 was 4, I was thinking of putting his name in for the drawing, and I called them to ask about the school. The woman I spoke to admitted to me that "We don't take special ed. students. They are better-served in the other schools in this district."

Posted by: Mom2Two

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 03:39 PM

Thanks MON,

You're correct that I need to be a supporter, then ask for the tweaks. I like this board. It is helping me keep everything in perspective.
Posted by: Mana

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 03:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Val
The woman I spoke to admitted to me that "We don't take special ed. students. They are better-served in the other schools in this district."


mad
Posted by: Val

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 04:13 PM

It's a game. Student learning is incidental to winning the high-stakes testing rounds, and lack of learning is irrelevant unless it directly affects scores on high-stakes tests.

IMO, most of the US K-12 education system should be pillaged of anything of value in it, with the rest being burned to the ground and buried under a two-foot layer of salt.
Posted by: Tallulah

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 04:36 PM

Originally Posted By: cmguy
Yup. Got this situation too. Great neighborhood school within walking distance. After testing we were advised not to use it ... ever. In fact we were advised not to use most schools in our area ever.

In our district the "GT" population is something like 10% of the kids (maybe this is political - it would be hard to get support for programs for 2% of the kids I guess).


It could easily be true that 10% or even 20 or 30% of the kids are over 130 FSIQ. In these small towns with 'great schools' it's not a random sample, but one selected for high income and interest in education. So it could be that because of the skewed population 30% of the kids are over 130 and 2 or 3% are PG. But instead of having more than one level of enrichment they are so caught up in how well they cater to 'the gifted' that they forget kids are on a spectrum.
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 05:08 PM

Exactly, Tallulah. The result is such myopic rigidity that the schools really DO NOT work for the HG+ kids in them. Which can be, as you note, a fairly sizeable percentage of the kids.

Our town's district ID's a full 30% as "gifted." I don't know that it's wrong, since the major employers in town are a fortune 25 hi-tech company, a regional medical complex, and a state flagship uni. So yeah, there ARE a lot of ideally bright and probably MG kids in town. No question.

But what gets aimed at that group doesn't suffice for the kids who are actually EG or PG, and it's all the more maddening to listen to the administrators, teachers, and school board patting themselves on the back for doing such a bang-up job of it all when you ask them questions ABOUT that minority group of students.

It's as though it doesn't compute, your question-- as though you couldn't POSSIBLY have actually asked it, because you don't understand how Super Awesome their program is.

frown
Posted by: aeh

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 08:00 PM

So this reminds me of the old rule of thumb in education (plastered all over RTI/MTSS guides, for those of you up on educational fads/buzzwords): no matter what you do, as long as you do it consistently, it will work for 80-85% of your population...be "meh" for 10-15%...and fail for 5-10%. Regardless of the composition of your student body, 15-20% will need something other than/in addition to your regular programming. And that last 5-10 will need something really different.
Posted by: 22B

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 08:23 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
So this reminds me of the old rule of thumb in education (plastered all over RTI/MTSS guides, for those of you up on educational fads/buzzwords): no matter what you do, as long as you do it consistently, it will work for 80-85% of your population...be "meh" for 10-15%...and fail for 5-10%. Regardless of the composition of your student body, 15-20% will need something other than/in addition to your regular programming. And that last 5-10 will need something really different.


That sounds like someone patting themselves on the back. The reality is some educational practices are a failure for the overwhelming majority of students.

On the other hand, they shouldn't dismiss 10-15% of students as inevitably unservable (as if to say, why bother anyway).
Posted by: Val

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/20/14 08:27 PM

Well, it all depends on how you define "it works." If they don't complain and can pass the high-stakes test, it works!

Oh dear, I'm feeling extra cynical today. shocked Or maybe I'm just filling the void created by lack of JonLaw.
Posted by: Mom2Two

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 05:11 AM

Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
Exactly, Tallulah. The result is such myopic rigidity that the schools really DO NOT work for the HG+ kids in them. Which can be, as you note, a fairly sizeable percentage of the kids.

Our town's district ID's a full 30% as "gifted." I don't know that it's wrong, since the major employers in town are a fortune 25 hi-tech company, a regional medical complex, and a state flagship uni. So yeah, there ARE a lot of ideally bright and probably MG kids in town. No question.

But what gets aimed at that group doesn't suffice for the kids who are actually EG or PG, and it's all the more maddening to listen to the administrators, teachers, and school board patting themselves on the back for doing such a bang-up job of it all when you ask them questions ABOUT that minority group of students.

It's as though it doesn't compute, your question-- as though you couldn't POSSIBLY have actually asked it, because you don't understand how Super Awesome their program is.

frown



Wow, you nailed how I feel a lot.
Posted by: Mom2Two

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 05:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Val
It's a game. Student learning is incidental to winning the high-stakes testing rounds, and lack of learning is irrelevant unless it directly affects scores on high-stakes tests.

IMO, most of the US K-12 education system should be pillaged of anything of value in it, with the rest being burned to the ground and buried under a two-foot layer of salt.


It is a game. It is all about the scores and how you can play with the numbers to make it all look good.
Posted by: blackcat

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 07:22 AM

Originally Posted By: master of none

Um, in one district--might even be yours--they bus kids to lower performing schools to take AP tests to improve the ratings for the lower performing school. In another district, they put GT programs into the lowest performing schools to hide the fact that there are lower performing kids who are not getting what they need. A game indeed.


I think when parents presented the idea of a gifted magnet in our district, that's one reason it was so attractive to the school board. There was one school that was flunking in terms of test scores, so they put the magnet in that school and the scores were immediately brought right up. Esp. since the kids accepted into the magnet need to have achievement test scores above the 98th percentile. Problem solved!
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 07:28 AM

MoN, what you describe is absolutely nauseating.
Posted by: Val

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 08:40 AM

Master of none and blackcat have proven, once again, that no matter how deeply you dig into the pits and caverns of American education, no matter how often you think you've finally hit the bottom, there is always, always a spot where your pickaxe will go through the floor, revealing another layer of badness below, waiting to be explored.

frown
Posted by: Dude

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 09:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Val
Master of none and blackcat have proven, once again, that no matter how deeply you dig into the pits and caverns of American education, no matter how often you think you've finally hit the bottom, there is always, always a spot where your pickaxe will go through the floor, revealing another layer of badness below, waiting to be explored.

frown


I can't say I'm in any way surprised, though. The whole system of state testing and linking it to teacher evaluations and school funding has basically created huge incentives to do exactly this sort of thing.

Basically, we put all kinds of accounting mechanisms into the education system, much like we do in the finance system, and then watched as educators turned into bankers.
Posted by: ultramarina

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 09:25 AM

Quote:
The whole system of state testing and linking it to teacher evaluations and school funding has basically created huge incentives to do exactly this sort of thing


Yeah. Don't forget that the schools are being forced to play the game by the legislature, at least in my state. I've had several teachers speak frankly to me about the system, and they hate it more than we do, but feel trapped. Their schools can be shuttered, their evaluations can plummet, and their pay can be docked if they don't produce the right numbers. What would you do, under the circumstances?
Posted by: madeinuk

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 09:36 AM

Quote:

I can't say I'm in any way surprised, though. The whole system of state testing and linking it to teacher evaluations and school funding has basically created huge incentives to do exactly this sort of thing.


Not surprised here either.

Accountability is good but the problem is the politics that disrupt its intent.

Teachers are expected to pass everyone with no regard for the actual abilities of their students. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Were all kids IQ tested as a matter of course it would be far easier to set realistic expectations. The way things are, teachers live in mortal dread of really dull kids not making the cut putting their livelihoods in jeopardy.

In the same situation, what would you do?
Posted by: 22B

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 09:36 AM

Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
MoN, what you describe is absolutely nauseating.

MoN, what you describe is virtually universal.
Posted by: ljoy

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 09:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Mana
Originally Posted By: Val
The woman I spoke to admitted to me that "We don't take special ed. students. They are better-served in the other schools in this district."

mad
As painful as this sounds, at DD7's school every classroom has one or two kids that are in the room half-day with a dedicated para. These kids sometimes can do some of the work but DD complains that their artwork always comes out best because the para does it for them. Last year's special ed kid was nonverbal. Honestly, I would be disturbed by a high achieving/gifted magnet that did take these kids; the benefit of having them in the room at all seems to be purely to help them learn to mix socially in a mainstreamed society, and help the other kids react normally to severely disabled persons.

Not understanding the 2E concept is something else entirely.
Posted by: 22B

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 09:59 AM

Originally Posted By: master of none
Originally Posted By: Mom2Two
Originally Posted By: Val
It's a game. Student learning is incidental to winning the high-stakes testing rounds, and lack of learning is irrelevant unless it directly affects scores on high-stakes tests.

IMO, most of the US K-12 education system should be pillaged of anything of value in it, with the rest being burned to the ground and buried under a two-foot layer of salt.


It is a game. It is all about the scores and how you can play with the numbers to make it all look good.


Um, in one district--might even be yours--they bus kids to lower performing schools to take AP tests to improve the ratings for the lower performing school. In another district, they put GT programs into the lowest performing schools to hide the fact that there are lower performing kids who are not getting what they need. A game indeed.


This happens all over our district. Kids are a commodity to be shuffled around so that "failing" schools aren't taken over or shut down by the government. It's not just bussing gifted kids to bad schools (which definitely happens). In one twist in our district, there is a school in a bad neighborhood already containing a full time gifted program, and this school was performing enough above "failing" level that they could ship in a bunch of the worst kids from a "failing" school in a different bad neighborhood to try to even the schools out and keep them both above "failing" level. Upon mixing the kids from two different bad neighborhoods, gang warfare ensued.

Our district has full time gifted programs. (They also have busywork sweatshops where the low performers are kept out, but no gifted programs, because the gifted programs are all in the ghetto.)

For some reasons we're going to stick with homeschooling. whistle
Posted by: aeh

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 10:00 AM

Originally Posted By: 22B
Originally Posted By: aeh
So this reminds me of the old rule of thumb in education (plastered all over RTI/MTSS guides, for those of you up on educational fads/buzzwords): no matter what you do, as long as you do it consistently, it will work for 80-85% of your population...be "meh" for 10-15%...and fail for 5-10%. Regardless of the composition of your student body, 15-20% will need something other than/in addition to your regular programming. And that last 5-10 will need something really different.


That sounds like someone patting themselves on the back. The reality is some educational practices are a failure for the overwhelming majority of students.

On the other hand, they shouldn't dismiss 10-15% of students as inevitably unservable (as if to say, why bother anyway).



Well, actually what it means is that 80-85% of students will manage in spite of whatever craziness you throw at them, as long as they know what the rules of the game are. (Are some practices much better than others? Of course, but these 80-85% will learn what they are taught, regardless of how it is taught, and generally survive the school experience adequately.) The remaining 15-20% require specific thought to be put into their education. Ideally, a small amount of tweaking (ability grouping, differentiation, etc.) will take care of 10-15%. The last 5-10% will need intensive/radical modifications. It is not supposed to mean that anyone gives up on the last few percent, just that there should be an awareness of the need for a range of services in any given population of students, no matter how high- or low-performing they may appear to be compared to the general population.

Of course, the reality is often far otherwise...
Posted by: Madoosa

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/21/14 01:09 PM

AS long as parents and teachers keep playing the game it will continue. Take away the players or the big red ball and the game will end.

What would happen if schools refused standardised testing? No legislature can close down every single school country wide if they refuse to do testing and stick to these "requirements". Surely in your consitution (as it is in the WHO "rights of a child") is a clause about a child's right to an education?

Therefore they cannot shut down all the schools. All it takes is one district to decide to stand against the tide. And then the next one and the next one etc.

Look, I do believe it's a universal issue - I have made many many observations and comments about our local education system here in South Africa.

As even my 7 year old figured about standing by while "bad" things happen, "you have to do something different to get a new result"
Posted by: Dude

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 06:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Madoosa
Surely in your consitution (as it is in the WHO "rights of a child") is a clause about a child's right to an education?


Nope.

The best US constitutional argument for education rights we have is in the 9th Amendment, which can be paraphrased as, "Just because the constitution doesn't specifically say you have a right, doesn't mean you don't have it."
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 07:50 AM

Right-- and in addition, schools that try to swim against the tide need to be prepared to no longer have operating funds provided.

So yes, in that sense, it is quite easy to "shut down" a non-compliant school. Even from far away. Just quit signing the checks.
Posted by: DeeDee

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 08:33 AM

Originally Posted By: ljoy
As painful as this sounds, at DD7's school every classroom has one or two kids that are in the room half-day with a dedicated para. These kids sometimes can do some of the work but DD complains that their artwork always comes out best because the para does it for them. Last year's special ed kid was nonverbal. Honestly, I would be disturbed by a high achieving/gifted magnet that did take these kids; the benefit of having them in the room at all seems to be purely to help them learn to mix socially in a mainstreamed society, and help the other kids react normally to severely disabled persons.


In the autism world, we have a maxim: "presume competence." That is, you can't always tell on first glance or even a casual acquaintance what a person can do or understand. I'd say it's extra true for children.

There exist, for example, gifted nonverbal autistics. Humans are uneven: lacking one particular skill or capacity does not mean there are no other skills or capacities, even really advanced ones, right there in the same person.

Without other information, I'd choose to believe that the school folks have decided that nonverbal child is getting something real out of their experience in that classroom (because otherwise they wouldn't "inconvenience" the teacher by placing the child there). I would certainly not presume incompetence.

This matters to me because presuming incompetence is often hurtful to people.
Posted by: MegMeg

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 08:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Madoosa
What would happen if schools refused standardised testing?

I believe something like this is going on in the Seattle area. I've not been following it closely, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Posted by: ljoy

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 09:11 AM

Originally Posted By: DeeDee
In the autism world, we have a maxim: "presume competence." That is, you can't always tell on first glance or even a casual acquaintance what a person can do or understand. I'd say it's extra true for children.

There exist, for example, gifted nonverbal autistics. Humans are uneven: lacking one particular skill or capacity does not mean there are no other skills or capacities, even really advanced ones, right there in the same person.

Without other information, I'd choose to believe that the school folks have decided that nonverbal child is getting something real out of their experience in that classroom (because otherwise they wouldn't "inconvenience" the teacher by placing the child there). I would certainly not presume incompetence.

This matters to me because presuming incompetence is often hurtful to people.
I apologize. When I volunteer in the classroom this child does not appear to make purposeful movements (aside from walking when the para guides their shoulders) or focus a gaze on things or people; it is hard to imagine what is going on inside a child's head when the child does not have access to any form of communication or even the usual sorts of body language. Now I am curious - I will watch more closely. Thank you for the reminder.
Posted by: DeeDee

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 10:08 AM

Thanks, ljoy!
Posted by: Val

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 10:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Madoosa
AS long as parents and teachers keep playing the game it will continue. Take away the players or the big red ball and the game will end.

What would happen if schools refused standardised testing?


The problem is a lot more complicated than just the testing. The tests are often badly written and the governments put too much of the wrong kind of emphasis on the results. But there are other problems, including bad textbooks, teachers who don't know the subject matter, and poorly though-out philosophies underpinning the US education system (e.g. "everyone can go to college" and "everyone can be proficient in every subject at age/grade level.") Our school system has a terrible problem with wishful thinking with respect to that last point.

Posted by: Bostonian

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 10:37 AM

Originally Posted By: DeeDee
Originally Posted By: ljoy
As painful as this sounds, at DD7's school every classroom has one or two kids that are in the room half-day with a dedicated para. These kids sometimes can do some of the work but DD complains that their artwork always comes out best because the para does it for them. Last year's special ed kid was nonverbal. Honestly, I would be disturbed by a high achieving/gifted magnet that did take these kids; the benefit of having them in the room at all seems to be purely to help them learn to mix socially in a mainstreamed society, and help the other kids react normally to severely disabled persons.


In the autism world, we have a maxim: "presume competence." That is, you can't always tell on first glance or even a casual acquaintance what a person can do or understand. I'd say it's extra true for children.

There exist, for example, gifted nonverbal autistics. Humans are uneven: lacking one particular skill or capacity does not mean there are no other skills or capacities, even really advanced ones, right there in the same person.

Without other information, I'd choose to believe that the school folks have decided that nonverbal child is getting something real out of their experience in that classroom (because otherwise they wouldn't "inconvenience" the teacher by placing the child there). I would certainly not presume incompetence.

This matters to me because presuming incompetence is often hurtful to people.

Even if you don't presume incompetence, one reason for putting gifted students together is that they can benefit from the questions and comments of other gifted students. The nonverbal child is not contributing in that respect. The interests of all the students need to be considered.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 10:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Madoosa
What would happen if schools refused standardised testing? No legislature can close down every single school country wide if they refuse to do testing and stick to these "requirements".

I think that overall the amount of standardized testing (here in Massachusetts, two mornings each for math and English) is not excessive and that testing does more good than harm. Education is a field where you can mislead the "client" and his or her family for a long time. You can tell all parents that their children are doing great (because their schools are great). Their failures in college and at work are far in the future. With test scores, there are hard numbers stating your child and your school is in percentile X in math and English for all students in the state. Life is more pleasant if your results are never measured, and that is a reason educators gripe about standardized tests.

I do think that differences in average IQ explain more of the inter-school variation in test scores than the quality of education does, but students and their families should be getting objective information about where they stand.
Posted by: apm221

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 11:08 AM

I agree with DeeDee. Kids can contribute in many different ways. I don't know what is happening in this particular classroom or whether the situation is being handled well; schools differ. However, I don't think it is possible to make assumptions about why these children are placed in this class without knowing the children or asking directly. One doesn't have to be verbal to be a valuable contributor.

I understand what is being said about these children not appearing to contribute, but we don't really know - we don't know the children and they must have been placed in the class for a reason. Yes, mainstreaming is good for kids with disabilities when possible - but that doesn't mean they don't contribute.

My daughter is PG with no disabilities. Her absolute favorite book is "Out of My Mind," about a severely disabled nonverbal girl. It resonates with her. She previously had a classmate with a speech disability who was basically unable to verbally communicate but who was a valued member of the class, able to contribute in many ways.

Things often aren't as simple as they seem from a brief description.
Posted by: ultramarina

Re: When Everyone Loves the School, but You?? - 05/22/14 12:14 PM

Quote:
There is talk of "high quality teachers", but what is that? Are they the teachers that have students that score high, or students that improve the most on test scores?


In my DD's case, there is a problem because the kids in her magnet mostly score very high on the tests to begin with, so they can't "improve." Which is a problem, ironically.

They were told they needed to do better than they did last year. Last year, DD received a perfect score (no problems incorrect) on one part of the standardized test and got one or two wrong (I forget) on the other part.

But, you know. This year, aim higher... frown