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    indigo Offline OP
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    What I Learned in 23 Years Ranking America’s Most Challenging High Schools
    by Jay Mathews
    Spring 2021
    Education Next, Vol. 21, No. 2
    Originally Posted by article
    Most students are capable of much more learning than they are asked to do
    This quote brings to mind that for continuing growth and development, kids need:
    1) appropriate academic challenge
    2) true peers
    For typical kids, these needs may be met in a general ed classroom, however for children with higher IQ/giftedness, these needs may not be met without intentional effort in providing advanced curriculum, and grouping for instruction with academic/intellectual peers. Some negatives which may occur when a child is not learning something new every day include these observations or signs that a child is not appropriately challenged.

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    Jay Matthews has been opposed to education for gifted students for many years. Why gifted education doesn’t make sense

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/life...a-4930-11e4-b72e-d60a9229cc10_story.html

    Response to a different article he wrote that begins: "I am among those people who think gifted education classes are usually a waste of time and money. It’s better to give super-bright kids a library card or a computer with a Web connection and get out of their way." A response to his article

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/...rry-jay-mathews-gifted-education-matters (not behind a payway but links to an article that may be)

    In between these two articles, in response to many, many parents who corresponded with him, he wrote this:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/loca...6-14a4-11e5-9518-f9e0a8959f32_story.html

    His views on gifted education should be taken with caution and a search for objective evidence. For example, the article posted above includes this:

    "Occasionally principals would tell me they didn’t need AP, IB or Cambridge. They said they could make their own courses just as demanding. I determined that rarely happened because their homemade final exams were not written or graded by independent experts outside the school, as AP, IB and Cambridge exams were. If classroom teachers controlled the tests, they tended to be gentle with those nice students they knew. That ruined the principals’ hopes for tough grading and high standards."

    He offers no evidence for anything in this paragraph.

    Jay Matthews has produced a lot of writing where you can see his evolution.

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    Spaghetti - thanks for the informative counterpoint.


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    indigo Offline OP
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    Originally Posted by spaghetti
    Jay Matthews has been opposed to education for gifted students for many years.
    Yes, this is why I posted a counter-point:
    Originally Posted by indigo
    This quote brings to mind that for continuing growth and development, kids need:
    1) appropriate academic challenge
    2) true peers
    For typical kids, these needs may be met in a general ed classroom, however for children with higher IQ/giftedness, these needs may not be met without intentional effort in providing advanced curriculum, and grouping for instruction with academic/intellectual peers. Some negatives which may occur when a child is not learning something new every day include these observations or signs that a child is not appropriately challenged.
    Over the years, I have had some interesting exchanges with Jay Mathews, on several topics, including the change in rating/ranking criteria for schools.

    BTW, the OP article by Jay Mathews was shared in a recent e-newsletter from Davidson Institute.

    The same Davidson e-newsletter shared an article which I posted here. Rather than touting "equal-outcomes" in education, so prevalent in the USA at this time (since the introduction of Common Core), that article expresses valuing gifted education:
    Quote
    HIGHLIGHTS
    - Identifying exceptional talent has acquired a major importance in developed countries.

    - Experts say it is crucial to pay attention to these children and match them up with special programmes to tap their full potential.

    - Failure to do so is a waste of resources and time.

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    indigo Offline OP
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    Originally Posted by spaghetti
    ...

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/loca...6-14a4-11e5-9518-f9e0a8959f32_story.html

    His views on gifted education should be taken with caution and a search for objective evidence. For example, the article posted above includes this:

    "Occasionally principals would tell me they didn’t need AP, IB or Cambridge. They said they could make their own courses just as demanding. I determined that rarely happened because their homemade final exams were not written or graded by independent experts outside the school, as AP, IB and Cambridge exams were. If classroom teachers controlled the tests, they tended to be gentle with those nice students they knew. That ruined the principals’ hopes for tough grading and high standards."

    He offers no evidence for anything in this paragraph.
    I do not find the excerpt you provided, in the article posted above. Possibly it is in a different article?

    This article:
    Why are American schools slowing down so many bright children?
    By Jay Mathews
    June 21, 2015
    Washington Post, Education
    Originally Posted by article
    Vicki Schulkin, a Northern Virginia parent, knew her son Matt was bright but did not think this was a problem until some of his teachers began to bristle at the erratic working habits that sometimes accompany intellectual gifts.

    “In fourth grade, his English teacher told me early in the semester that he didn’t belong in her high-level class because he wasn’t completing all of his homework,” Schulkin said. That teacher changed her mind after he showed great creativity in a poetry assignment, but other instructors were less understanding.

    In fifth grade, while Matt was doing SAT math problems in his head, his math teacher refused to acknowledge that he might be gifted because he wasn’t finishing assignments that he found boring and repetitive.

    At the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa’s College of Education, this is old news. In 2004, it published an extensive report, “A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students,” with research showing that children like Matt were poorly served.

    Now the center has done a follow-up, “A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students.” Its 345 pages have encouraging stories about gifted children like Matt being allowed to accelerate their learning. But authors Susan G. Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo and Joyce VanTassel-Baska remain frustrated with school administrators and legislators impeding students who would do better in more challenging classes.

    “Only nine states have policies explicitly permitting acceleration of gifted students,” they write, noting that only one state, Louisiana, prohibits it. “Sixteen states prohibit early entry to kindergarten.” Colangelo told me that the District and Maryland, Virginia and several other states let local districts set acceleration policies.

    The authors list 20 forms of acceleration, including early kindergarten admission, grade skipping, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate and early graduation from high school or college. The research shows that many biases against acceleration, such as the fear that children will feel awkward with older classmates, are unfounded. But resistance to grade skipping still rules many schools.

    Teacher training programs have not done much to alter that. “It takes more to change teacher ideas about acceleration than a weekend or week-long professional development seminar,” the authors say.

    Parents who want their children accelerated have to go to great lengths to make their case. In doing so, they are called “pushy” by educators who dismiss their arguments as nonsense fed by mother love.

    That was the reaction Schulkin got at her son’s elementary school. “I wasn’t even asking to have him accelerated,” she said. “I had to fight and advocate for him all the way through. It always broke my heart that there had to be kids . . . who didn’t have parents able to constantly stick up for them.”

    The increasing use of AP, IB and dual enrollment in local college courses has eased the problem in high schools, but elementary and middle schools still resist moving kids ahead. The report says school counselors need to be convinced that acceleration works.

    What saved Matt, Schulkin said, was a middle school that allowed more advanced students to start algebra early and the intervention of Vern Williams, a nationally known math teacher. He came to her house, confirmed that Matt had special abilities and recommended him for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

    At 27, Matt has a successful career as a software engineer and is getting married in August. Having such a supportive parent, he probably would have gotten what he needed in any case. But the University of Iowa researchers ask a good question: Why do our schools have to make it so difficult?

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    indigo Offline OP
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    Originally Posted by spaghetti
    ...
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/...rry-jay-mathews-gifted-education-matters (not behind a payway but links to an article that may be)
    This article:
    Sorry Jay Mathews, Gifted Education Matters
    by Jonathan Wai, Ph.D.
    Finding the Next Einstein
    Psychology Today
    June 17, 2014

    Very insightful article, IMO. Author Jonathan Wai, Ph.D. appears to be focused on truth and transparency.

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    indigo Offline OP
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    Originally Posted by spaghetti
    Jay Matthews has been opposed to education for gifted students for many years. Why gifted education doesn’t make sense
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/life...a-4930-11e4-b72e-d60a9229cc10_story.html
    This article:
    Why gifted education doesn’t make sense
    By Jay Mathews
    October 8, 2014
    Washington Post, On Parenting

    Originally Posted by article
    A new book out by nationally known gifted-education expert James R. Delisle, a former fifth grade special education teacher and Kent State University professor, says our schools are making war on our nation’s finest young minds by failing to fund enough programs for the gifted.

    What’s the problem with that? He — and others involved with gifted education — doesn’t address what I see as the biggest problem with gifted education: its ill-considered selectivity.

    After a school district has designated a certain group of students as gifted, what should it do for the children who missed being admitted by one or two IQ points, one or two votes on the selection committee or some other narrow margin in the variously complicated ways this is done?

    Given the unavoidable imprecision of any selection criteria, many children being denied gifted services would be for all practical purposes identical to many of those selected. If gifted services are as necessary for the gifted as Delisle says they are, how can he deny them to children with the same capabilities and needs?

    Delisle never answers that question in the book, “Dumbing Down America: The War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds (And What We Can Do to Fight Back),” but he did respond when I e-mailed him last week. “Children of slightly less pronounced abilities should also have an option that addresses their needs,” he said. He suggested what he called a junior varsity version of gifted services. To me, this is a recipe for mediocrity. Students who are a few IQ points below the gifted program minimum are likely to get as much out of the most challenging classes as the officially designated gifted students do. Why not let them take those courses?

    Even more important is the fact that gifted advocates have no evidence that gifted services produce results any better for the brightest children than the efforts many schools are making to provide challenging courses for the students who want them.

    I give Delisle credit for being honest about that. Toward the end of the book he describes a study of 320 gifted adults who had been enrolled in college classes about the time their contemporaries were starting eighth grade. By the time they reached their late 30s, they were an accomplished lot, Delisle said. Of the group, “203 have at least a master’s degree and 142 have doctorates,” he said. “Collectively, they hold 49 patents and have produced 14 theater and 21 musical productions.”

    “Would those prolific adults have performed as well had they not participated [in the gifted program]? That’s a question that is impossible to answer,” he said.

    We can’t answer it because we haven’t spent much on research that would tell us what gifted classes do. In the book, Delisle said Congress in 2010 erased “the only federally funded program aimed specifically at gifted children,” including some money for research. Some of that money has been restored, Delisle told me, but so far the research has not gotten very far.

    I have a research idea. Why not compare students admitted to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County and students who just missed acceptance? We could assess their achievements 10 and 20 years later and see whether the Jefferson grads were doing better than similar graduates of Oakton, Mount Vernon and South County high schools.

    We know that challenging programs can raise the level of even average or below-average students who have not been challenged before. But do our gifted education classes do better at that than advanced classes already available to nearly everyone?

    In a future column I will look at ways to give gifted-education supporters the selective programs they want, but let our brightest and most motivated students have other choices, as well.
    . . . (emphasis added)

    In this article, Jay Mathews raises an issue often mentioned by parents on the forums: children who almost qualify for a gifted service, program, or school. A related concern is: children who qualify for programs, then must win a seat via a lottery program, because the school district has not created enough space for the students who need and/or would benefit from the program of advanced academics.

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    Originally Posted by indigo
    I do not find the excerpt you provided, in the article posted above. Possibly it is in a different article?


    The article you posted
    https://www.educationnext.org/what-...-americas-most-challenging-high-schools/

    "Occasionally principals would tell me they didn’t need AP, IB or Cambridge. They said they could make their own courses just as demanding. I determined that rarely happened because their homemade final exams were not written or graded by independent experts outside the school, as AP, IB and Cambridge exams were. If classroom teachers controlled the tests, they tended to be gentle with those nice students they knew. That ruined the principals’ hopes for tough grading and high standards."

    No evidence to support.

    (I have also had many conversations with him)

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    indigo Offline OP
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    Originally Posted by spaghetti
    Originally Posted by indigo
    I do not find the excerpt you provided, in the article posted above. Possibly it is in a different article?


    The article you posted
    https://www.educationnext.org/what-...-americas-most-challenging-high-schools/

    "Occasionally principals would tell me they didn’t need AP, IB or Cambridge. They said they could make their own courses just as demanding. I determined that rarely happened because their homemade final exams were not written or graded by independent experts outside the school, as AP, IB and Cambridge exams were. If classroom teachers controlled the tests, they tended to be gentle with those nice students they knew. That ruined the principals’ hopes for tough grading and high standards."

    No evidence to support.

    (I have also had many conversations with him)
    Got it! You were quoting from the OP article, not an article you linked in your post.

    In context, Jay Mathews admits he first created the "Challenge Index" as a stunt to help sell a book, but as he looked more deeply into the numbers, he found that test scores from AP exams and other standardized tests were more meaningful for comparison than scores on locally written classroom tests. In a retrospective article looking back over 23 years, some may say it would not be necessary to prove or substantiate each point that his decades of experience have taught him.

    On a related theme, a recent thread discussed the value of test scores from independent sources... SAT, ACT, and AP exams... for the college application process.

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    From the original article:
    Quote
    In two decades of interviews I have found only one student who thought wrestling with AP did her any harm.

    This, IMO, speaks to the value of setting high standards in core courses, particularly in elementary school. Students cannot challenge difficult courses without a strong academic foundation.

    My comments will set aside the real possibility of selection bias and self-serving bias in the sample the author quotes. Let us assume that, once a student attains a sufficient level of proficiency in a subject, access to enriched content is at least as good as standard course offerings, in terms of developing that student's capability in the subject. The material questions are: what is that proficiency, and how do we inculcate it universally?

    Educational policy where I am - and, it seems, in a growing swath of the US - is looking at the issue from the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of enforcing equal outcomes at the end of K-12 and throttling supply to quality educational placements, with multipliers assigned to traditionally under-represented groups, we should be amplifying opportunities to bring forward lagging and under-represented students as early in their academic careers as possible, and not at the expense of the strongest. Education is not an expenditure category in which we should skimp. A decade of sound educational policy and implementation could radically improve the trajectory of the population's potential, and no student or group of students need lose out as a result.

    I am concerned that the disconnect between the timescale on which benefits of such policies is realized, versus the shorter interval of the political cycle, makes this difficult for the average voter to appreciate. Sadly, expediency and political salability seem to dominate the policy implementation in this area.


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