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    Joined: Jan 2012
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    oooohh!! Thanks Beckee...your last paragraph helps me understand what you were saying before. I like to be able to understand someone else's perspective, and yours is interesting food for thought.

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    Originally Posted by Beckee
    When educated and motivated parents pull their children out of public schools, they are taking motivated, capable students out of public school classrooms. They are taking out independent learners, peer role models (positive peer pressure is a powerful force), someone who might understand what the teacher is saying and be able to explain it to their classmates, an intelligent participant in class discussion. To me, the struggling learners are not so difficult to teach, but when you get a class where most of the students don't care about school, whose parents are happy with Ds, that's difficult.

    Parents don't like their children being viewed as some kind of social resource to be used in improving the achievement of other children. They make schooling decisions based on how much their own children will learn and otherwise grow.

    If a middle-income school district had ability grouping, subject acceleration, and grade acceleration, I would consider living there and sending my children to the public schools. Since all public schools in Massachusetts are heterogeneously grouped and there is no acceleration, we moved to the town within our commuting radius with the highest test scores, since that it is the closest we can get to ability grouping. The new town is, not coincidentally, more affluent and less diverse than the town we used to live in.

    Don't try to use people's children as "role models" for the benefit of others. Their parents will not stand for it.

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    I shared the following article with a principal a couple years ago.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/03/AR2007110301167.html
    He told me that anything that even looked like "tracking" was a non-starter in our school district. Fast forward a couple years with significant budget cuts and higher student to teacher ratios, now our school is experimenting with some ability grouping again. It seems that heterogeneous classes were easier to manage when class sizes were 20-24 kids. Now that class sizes are closer to 30, not so much. Unfortunately, the first attempt was hugely successful for the high end kids and a disaster for the lower end class that ended up with the high energy boys with behavior issues. The teachers fought against a second year of this model saying that it was unfair. The current iteration only does ability grouping for language arts with kids shifting teachers during that block according to reading ability. People seem to be happier with this compromise.

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    Originally Posted by Beckee
    The research also shows that students who are retained (especially at middle school level) are at high risk for alienation: truancy, further failures, at risk-behaviors, dropping out.

    This could be correlation without causation.

    Is holding them back really the cause of truancy and other risky behaviors? Or are problems like poor performance in school, truancy, and risky behaviors all coming from the same root cause?


    Originally Posted by Beckee
    When educated and motivated parents pull their children out of public schools, they are taking motivated, capable students out of public school classrooms. They are taking out independent learners, peer role models (positive peer pressure is a powerful force), someone who might understand what the teacher is saying and be able to explain it to their classmates, an intelligent participant in class discussion.

    When public schools refuse to provide challenging, interesting material, they fail talented students and create problems for the entire country. If public schools want to keep talented students, they should treat them as more than just classroom helpers who are there for the benefit of less motivated or less intelligent students. When a school forces gifted kids into a classroom with below average students, bright students can get picked on for "showing off," "bragging," or whatever. There is another side to that coin.

    We bend over backwards to accommodate below average kids, and nothing changes. High stakes tests continue to get easier and our PISA scores stay in the average range or below.

    I know that teaching is a difficult job, and I know how difficult it is to teach students of differing ability levels. But can you see how a system that caters to below-average students can be soul-destroying to a highly intelligent, thoughtful child?

    I hate paying private school fees. It's a sacrifice for us. We tried a charter school this year when my son's last school closed, and the result has been a year that's been nearly a complete academic waste. There are students in my son's 8th grade classes who don't know where Egypt is and don't know what the Revolutionary War was. Essays are never corrected for grammar mistakes. In math class, we just skip things that are too hard or time-consuming, like proofs in geometry. My son cries about school and begs me to let him go to an online school next year. Looking at the offerings, I can see his point.


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    Originally Posted by cricket3
    I can't of course speak for all, but I know there are many parents who believe that education should benefit all of society.

    Err... you make it sound like asking for an appropriate learning environment for gifted kids is somehow cheating society.

    I agree that education should benefit all of society, but gifted kids are part of society, too. As the public school system operates now, it largely doesn't benefit them.

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    Ability grouping doesn't always require a massive institutional change.

    It may be as simple as placing the two 98%tile kids in the same class with your 99.9%tile kid.

    With a cooperative principal this can be done on the sly.


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    My kids were in a full-on Montessori for two years. They told us how the kids were grouped by multi-ages/grades, and it's great because your child can work above grade level. Of course, they didn't tell us that the school was super overcrowed.
    At the time, my older boy was in first grade (he had a 144 WISC score and was doing math/reading at a third grade level). They put him in the PreK-K room with promises that it's a montessori and above grade level, blah, blah. They didn't have room in the first-third grade room.
    We realized that for the younger kids, it was great! They had a HG older child who could serve as a mentor/teacher to them. But there was basically nothing in it for him! IT's the same in his regular public school class- the brighter kids can pull up the slower kids, but frankly, the slower kids pull down the brighter kids. The pace of the class is slow since the teacher must cater to the average...
    It's really not our family's problem or job to raise the mean of the class. Our job is our kids. They are above grade level and catch on very quickly to things. I would not want them long-term in a class with lots of slower kids since it drags them down. Fortunately, our G/T program starts in 4th grade and is full-time and self-contained. I am hoping, perhaps fruitlessly, that this will yield some good results.

    Last edited by jack'smom; 05/01/12 11:04 AM.
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    [quote=Bostonian
    Don't try to use people's children as "role models" for the benefit of others. Their parents will not stand for it.
    [/quote]

    While I get the potential problems that occur regarding curriculum, I do in fact encourage my son to be a role model and a leader and to respect and appreciate diversity. So I certainly don't have a problem with that as long as his own needs are being met as well. I also think there is value in socializing with people who are not all similar to you in skill, background etc.

    I can sympathize with the frustrations of unchallenging curriculums, for sure. But I think Beckee's post brings up some things we should think about as well.

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    The research shows that children who are retained fare worse than their peers with similar academic and behavioral needs who are not retained. It is from longitudinal data sets where you can match cohorts based on things like days of suspension, reading level, etc prior to the grade retention, and then compare them to each other after the grade retention or promotion.

    Originally Posted by Val
    Originally Posted by Beckee
    The research also shows that students who are retained (especially at middle school level) are at high risk for alienation: truancy, further failures, at risk-behaviors, dropping out.

    This could be correlation without causation.

    Is holding them back really the cause of truancy and other risky behaviors? Or are problems like poor performance in school, truancy, and risky behaviors all coming from the same root cause?


    Originally Posted by Beckee
    When educated and motivated parents pull their children out of public schools, they are taking motivated, capable students out of public school classrooms. They are taking out independent learners, peer role models (positive peer pressure is a powerful force), someone who might understand what the teacher is saying and be able to explain it to their classmates, an intelligent participant in class discussion.

    When public schools refuse to provide challenging, interesting material, they fail talented students and create problems for the entire country. If public schools want to keep talented students, they should treat them as more than just classroom helpers who are there for the benefit of less motivated or less intelligent students. When a school forces gifted kids into a classroom with below average students, bright students can get picked on for "showing off," "bragging," or whatever. There is another side to that coin.

    We bend over backwards to accommodate below average kids, and nothing changes. High stakes tests continue to get easier and our PISA scores stay in the average range or below.

    I know that teaching is a difficult job, and I know how difficult it is to teach students of differing ability levels. But can you see how a system that caters to below-average students can be soul-destroying to a highly intelligent, thoughtful child?

    I hate paying private school fees. It's a sacrifice for us. We tried a charter school this year when my son's last school closed, and the result has been a year that's been nearly a complete academic waste. There are students in my son's 8th grade classes who don't know where Egypt is and don't know what the Revolutionary War was. Essays are never corrected for grammar mistakes. In math class, we just skip things that are too hard or time-consuming, like proofs in geometry. My son cries about school and begs me to let him go to an online school next year. Looking at the offerings, I can see his point.

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    I'd like to see citations for this data.

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