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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Obviously students at rare levels will find it hard to find a large local cohort, by definition. There's no getting around that, and so they may need some individual attention, some resources for self-directed study, connection to peers in a larger are, etcetera.

    But what about larger groups at the upper levels. What about top 5%, top 10%, top 20%, top 50%. Or what about students between percentiles 75 and 90? Why shouldn't all students at all levels be entitled to be taught at their approximate level? There should be classes catering to all levels, and placement in these classes should be purely meritocratic. This merit should not be compromised to fulfil other types of quotas. As long as everyone is being taught at their approximate level, how could it possibly matter if there are measurable demographic differences between the classes? I've never seen any convincing argument not to do what I'm suggesting.

    When people don't like the situations their kids are put in in schools, they leave if they can (or don't enter in the first place).

    In our district, the gifted programs are generally in lower performing schools, schools with more discipline problems, schools in more dangerous parts of town, and so on. There are various reasons things are done this way. But a consequence is that a lot of gifted students don't participate in the public school system.

    The gifted classrooms themselves are meritocratic, and they are an incentive for qualifying students to participate in the public school system, but when you consider how bad the schools are that contain the gifted, many students and parents say no thanks. The gifted community would love to have a single K-12 dedicated gifted school in a safe area, but the district has no purpose for such a school.

    Schools and districts use gifted (and above average) students as a commodity that can be placed and moved around as pawns in a sytem, basically to manipulate demographic and school score statistics. This is so unacceptable to large numbers of students and parents that many are effectively left disenfranchised with no acceptable public school option, and are pushed into options that many can hardly afford.

    I just ran the same program, as I did earlier in this thread, on a group of 400 hypothetical students in the top 5%:
    22, 28, 19, 22, 26, 24, 26, 20, 17, 25, 19, 33, 21, 26, 25, 25, 23,
    31, 26, 17, 21, 31, 30, 24, 21, 20, 20, 24, 27, 25, 23, 26, 18, 20,
    22, 18, 18, 25, 20, 24, 18, 28, 29, 21, 27, 21, 21, 22, 31, 18

    This led to a smallest hypothetic class of 17 and the largest of 33. The Poisson distribution would probably be the more appropriate method to determine this information for real planning, but I prefer Monte Carlo for just getting simulated numbers to inspect. It gives a different feel.

    To your point. I agree. All kids should be taught to their level. I think that many gifted kids really do not need to be taught a whole lot. They should instead be allowed to learn. Kids that thrive on learning and thinking just need to not be held back. I am not sure whether having any kid sit at a desk facing a teacher who is trying to tell them how to think is appropriate, but I am quite certain that for at least a segment of the gifted population that paradigm is not appropriate.

    Last edited by it_is_2day; 11/04/14 01:28 PM.
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    Originally Posted by 22B
    But what about larger groups at the upper levels. What about top 5%, top 10%, top 20%, top 50%. Or what about students between percentiles 75 and 90? Why shouldn't all students at all levels be entitled to be taught at their approximate level? There should be classes catering to all levels, and placement in these classes should be purely meritocratic. This merit should not be compromised to fulfil other types of quotas. As long as everyone is being taught at their approximate level, how could it possibly matter if there are measurable demographic differences between the classes? I've never seen any convincing argument not to do what I'm suggesting.
    I agree with you. Group by ability whenever it makes sense, which I think is as early as KG, and let the demographic chips fall where they may. Make the grouping flexible, so that children can move to different groups at least annually, and so that grouping is done by subject. However, even if ability grouping is done right, the presence of racial and SES gaps in academic achievement will mean that some groups will be very underrepresented in the top classes. Civil rights leaders will condemn these "disparities" and will not accept the main explanation that I would offer. In order to have realistic and effective educational policies, certain realities need to be widely understood. In the mean time, affluent parents self-segregate by moving to areas with "good schools" and send their children to after school programs that are not concerned with diversity.

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    Our school system has 2 GT programs in elem-- one is self selected enrichment based on interest. The other is enrichment based on teacher recommendation and replaces language arts. For late elem math and for middle school 4 core courses, there is a test for GT. Few qualify based on test. 5th grade teachers recommend the vast majority of participants and if that doesn't do it, then parents can appeal, and pretty much get their kid in if the child is not disabled (grr-- fortunately, my 2E tested in) or disruptive.

    Then for high school, ANYONE can chose GT and the grades are weighted. GT basically has an extra project thrown in on top of the curriculum at middle and high school, so really any motivated kid who can do regular can also succeed in GT. For math, there is zero difference, except that you get to the class earlier in your school career if you are GT. You can be a senior who struggles in math and take algebra 2 GT to get that weighted grade. There is really no reason not to take the GT version of math.

    Despite being a program that ANYONE can choose, we have the same problem with demographics. Nobody is excluded in high school, but there's something going on that makes GT not an attractive choice for low SES (though racial diversity is not as much of a problem)

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    Quote
    As long as everyone is being taught at their approximate level, how could it possibly matter if there are measurable demographic differences between the classes? I've never seen any convincing argument not to do what I'm suggesting.

    Educational research shows that mid- and low-ability students benefit from being in classrooms with higher-ability students. I believe the research also shows that higher-ability students do not benefit from this, at least academically, but they also do not actually suffer. This research is why "tracking" went away.

    Obviously, it's a lot messier and more complex in the real world.


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    Quote
    Educational research shows that mid- and low-ability students benefit from being in classrooms with higher-ability students. I believe the research also shows that higher-ability students do not benefit from this, at least academically, but they also do not actually suffer. This research is why "tracking" went away.
    Would you point us to the research you are referring to?

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Quote
    As long as everyone is being taught at their approximate level, how could it possibly matter if there are measurable demographic differences between the classes? I've never seen any convincing argument not to do what I'm suggesting.

    Educational research shows that mid- and low-ability students benefit from being in classrooms with higher-ability students. I believe the research also shows that higher-ability students do not benefit from this, at least academically, but they also do not actually suffer. This research is why "tracking" went away.

    Obviously, it's a lot messier and more complex in the real world.

    I would say that, to the contrary, these policies about classroom or school composition have caused massive devastation to the education landscape, and are denying our children access to a suitable public education.

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    The research is very easy to find--Google "research on tracking." Here's one that came up right off:

    Research Overwhelmingly Counsels an End to Tracking:
    http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/options-tracking

    What I find of note in the research is that tracking appears to have negative effects not because tailoring instruction is bad, per se, but because when you track, other bad things happen (good teachers prefer higher tracks, parents with higher-track kids are better at demanding good education).

    I should say, there has been a recent backlash to the anti-tracking school of thought.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    The research is very easy to find--Google "research on tracking." Here's one that came up right off:

    Research Overwhelmingly Counsels an End to Tracking:
    http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/options-tracking

    What I find of note in the research is that tracking appears to have negative effects not because tailoring instruction is bad, per se, but because when you track, other bad things happen (good teachers prefer higher tracks, parents with higher-track kids are better at demanding good education).

    I should say, there has been a recent backlash to the anti-tracking school of thought.

    There's a difference between genuine research and agenda-driven "research". These people are extremists. Tracking, providing classes that fit, should be no more controversial than providing clothes that fit.

    The goal of anti-tracking extremists is to destroy education for more able students. To a large extent they have succeeded. Public education is hugely focused on less able students, and the more able students are left disenfranchised from the public school system. Millions of children have been driven out of public education due to these hostilities.

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    I'm with Ultramarina, I've run into tons of anti-tracking research and advocacy. There's no denying its out there. Most recently I was reading Jo Boaler's "What's Math got to do with it" which has a whole chapter devoted to the subject.

    More charitably speaking, the main motivation seems to be that lower tracks have very poor results in raising the performance of kids that are enrolled in them and that school systems disproportionately channel minority kids into the lower tracks. Both of these facts are fairly non-controversial. There also have been studies showing that in tracked classes the actual ability level of students doesn't differ between the tracks due to parental pressure to have kids in higher tracks and the above mentioned implicit biases in the system. I can also believe this to a certain extent does occur.

    Then you hit the crux of the dispute which is whether higher achieving students are harmed by being untracked. The contention is that this is not the case. But this is where I part company with this line of reasoning because it fundamentally assumes most students are the same or close enough and can handle the same level of rigor so there really isn't a compelling need for acceleration/tracking. I'll leave it at that but suffice it to say this is a thorny problem.

    Here's some more reading if you want to see another sample:

    http://www.ascd.org/publications/bo...-Is-and-How-to-Start-Dismantling-It.aspx

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    Again, this is just off the charts extremist propaganda. It is agenda driven. It is not honest.

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