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    Joined: Feb 2011
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    Has anyone else notice this phenomenon? I actually saw the tables/reports for our district a couple of years ago but now actually have first hand experience at my DS/DD's middle school.

    At our district, this large jump in GT participation became a noticeable trend maybe in the last decade or so. I actually think that this is a point of pride that more students are capable of completing these courses and ultimately participate in AP courses. However, it is also clear that these classes are necessarily diluted so that it does not challenge the real GT students. The only real consolation is that many of these middle school GT classes are at least somewhat more sophisticated (and more capable of differentiated work products) than the stand-alone GT classes in elementary school. The other difference is that middle schools are comfortable in handing out low and failing grades so now you actually see a spread in the grade distribution as oppose to almost all kids getting A's and B's in the elementary GT classes.

    Is this trend prevalent across the country?

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    Quote
    differentiated work products
    Are you comfortable describing this, and the benefits you see in it?

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    In middle school, many of the teachers are more comfortable introducing more sophisticated and controversial ideas in literature, history, current events, etc., which lend themselves to work products that differ in the level of insight/understanding/analysis. The assignments are also more open-ended in the sense that a student may choose to do more research and/or produce a lengthier or more complex product. The benefits are that the different levels of abilities are more apparent in the final products, the students may be challenged to think through and formulate his position, and choose put in the time/effort to produce a better product.

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    The main problem is that "gifted" becomes a mislabelling, and the actual gifted students aren't getting a challenging enough class.

    But it's still good for many students that such classes exist, though it would be better if a higher level was offered in addition.

    When I was in school (many years ago in a different country) classrooms were grouped by ability (but there was no "gifted education" per se). The top class would be about top 15%-20%, as a simple numerical consequence of there being 5 or 6 classes. It should not be underestimated how vastly better it is to be in a class where the average IQ is 120, than it is to be in a class where the average IQ is 100.

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    ITA. DS/DD had first-hand experience when adoption of Common Core led to a dismantling of the stand-alone GT class to three of the six 5th grade classes for ELA, resulting in a significant lowering of the standards/paces of the ELA class, notwithstanding that a significant portion of the materials are "differentiated." Interestingly, they are the ones who pointed out to me that although the GT population has doubled and many classmates are noticeably nowhere near GT, the materials and assignments themselves are actually more interesting/challenging in middle school, particularly in comparison to 5th grade.

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    In an ideal world there would be classes catering to all levels of ability with less than 1 standard deviation variation in ability within each class. Then, given a range of such classes, the "gifted" ones would simply be the higher level ones. But all the levels would be needed.

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    Ideally, each child would have the right to be in a class room where the majority were within a standard deviation of the child's ability and majority middle class by SES, Not everyone! Which would give schools the possibility to not compose classes with majorities below 100 or living in poverty, both extremely unhealthy classroom environments for everyone. In the highest reaches of ability,the slices as it were could get thinner, with Hg+ classes at the top, necessitating some concentrating and travelling for these groups, but precluding the necessity to bother about whether concentration of high SES kids in these classrooms distorts the distribution for the other classrooms, as the critical mass of middle class kids will be reached regardless.
    Sorry, somewhat OT, pet topic of mine.

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    Originally Posted by Tigerle
    Ideally, each child would have the right to be in a class room where the majority were within a standard deviation of the child's ability and majority middle class by SES, Not everyone!

    Yes, ideally. But the numbers don't seem to work out at all, at least not where I am. Unless you're in a large and densely populated district, you just can't get a whole classroom of PGs together. And they're not likely to fund a half-classroom of these kids; it's not cost-effective.

    I also think kids should know and be friendly with others who are different from them, including mixing ability levels in some contexts. It's tricky to get this right.


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    Originally Posted by Tigerle
    Ideally, each child would have the right to be in a class room where the majority were within a standard deviation of the child's ability and majority middle class by SES, Not everyone! Which would give schools the possibility to not compose classes with majorities below 100 or living in poverty, both extremely unhealthy classroom environments for everyone. In the highest reaches of ability,the slices as it were could get thinner, with Hg+ classes at the top, necessitating some concentrating and travelling for these groups, but precluding the necessity to bother about whether concentration of high SES kids in these classrooms distorts the distribution for the other classrooms, as the critical mass of middle class kids will be reached regardless.
    Sorry, somewhat OT, pet topic of mine.
    In our school district, the majority of public school students are at or near the poverty level, and many school districts in the US are like this. I know you're in Europe, but you're comments make it obvious you are very unfamiliar with the demographics of the US public school population, because obviously you cannot possibly make every classroom "majority middle class" when the overwhelming majority of students are poor. There has been a mass exodus from the public school system for anyone who can escape. To get them to return they need to find the classrooms and schools and surroundings to be acceptable places to put their children, in particular they should be safe with few discipline problems, and they need to have decent educational standards. This necessitates abandoning any notion of SES and other quotas. In particular, gifted classes should be based on ability/achievement and if the gifted population differs demographically from the general population, then so be it. There are no legitimate grounds for regarding that demographic difference as being any kind of problem.

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    In early 80's NZ we had streamed classes now the onlu
    Y thing is an extension class at some intermediate and high schools aimed at the top 15 percent by achievement. Too little, too late and not any help to a lot of gifted kids. I was told only last week that they like an even distribution so the teacher has someone to spark off. Don't my kids need someone to spark off too?

    1SD might be a bit tricky for my son where we are I would be happy with some acknowledgement that 3 to 4 SD
    above the mean does actually mean something statistically.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Originally Posted by Tigerle
    I like the idea that every child deserves a school that has a culture conducive to learning, just as every child deserves to be taught at their level.

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

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

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

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

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    Originally Posted by DeeDee
    Originally Posted by Tigerle
    I like the idea that every child deserves a school that has a culture conducive to learning, just as every child deserves to be taught at their level.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ITA with DeeDee, and very well said smile

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

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    7,9,5,7,5,9,11,5,6,5,6,13,5,4,10,7,2,5,6,6,11,6,5,8,
    6,4,9,11,4,11,4,6,5,6,7,5,4,7,5,4,7,4,8,6,4,5,6,11,14,7

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

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    6000 per grade level, so 78,000 K-12?


    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...
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    Unfortunately, it has always been an issue that high ability students do not get lower teacher/student ratios than the student body at large. The few occasions where I have witnessed this happening, the remedy has been to add other (relatively closer) students to recover this balance.

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    Yeah - we are in a large district (over 100K for K-12) and I don't think we can create a class of PG student (maybe if you lump many grades).

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    Streamed classes were the norm in the 80's in the part of the U.S. where I grew up as well. Fortunately, my kids' current district still has different tracks, at least for now.

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    Interestingly, in our district and a couple of neighboring districts, many high SES families wait until middle school before siphoning their kids to expensive private schools ($15k - $30K range).

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    I wasn't using "differentiated work products" as a term of art. Per the definitions you provided, I should more properly have stated differentiated and variable work products - differentiated from non-GT classes and variable among GT students.

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    Actually, I do believe that it probably mirrors reality. By 5th grade, DS, who has been double-accelerated in math, have three schoolmates who have been single-accelerated in math. In comparison, there was one single acceleration in the class ahead and none in the class behind.

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    Until last year it was considered better for the year 3/4 kids to be ability grouped across those 2 years. This year it is considered better for them to do maths in mixed ability groups within their classes. The kids havent changed. Placement and services are not based on what our kids need they are based on the needs and wants of the establishment. They quote modern research but they only listen to the current fad.

    There is often SES grouping in schools as kids tend to go to the local.school especially poor ones with buy parents and no transport.

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    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.


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    Originally Posted by aeh
    6000 per grade level, so 78,000 K-12?
    The Idea was 6000 per either grade level or roughly the same age, but yes you have the idea. I was a very simple program. I created 6000 random numbers, and counted how many passed trough a very small window. I only iterated 50 times so that it was easy to view all of the individual samples.

    Usually with Monte Carlo you will be trying to solve problems that are not as easy to solve deterministically as this one, and you will run a very large number of iteration then apply traditional statistics to the results.

    In this case I thought it would be interesting to approximate the variation you might see in 50 equal size cities, or in one city on 2 randomly picked years. Of course, in 2 successive years random would not make total sense because you would be resampling many of the same children, which should reduce the amount of variation observed.

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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.

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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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    Quote
    The goal of anti-tracking extremists is to destroy education for more able students.

    This could certainly also be classified as an "extremist" view. (Why would that really be anyone's goal? The goal is educational equity, although there is surely some politics and some "the top end does fine without our help and we don't need to worry" mixed in there. I don't really have a dog in the fight on tracking though I do have one completely "tracked" child in a gifted magnet--which, IIRC, you also oppose...)

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    The link provided is a brief of a brief. Looking for a source document on the research which informed these views:
    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.

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Again, this is just off the charts extremist propaganda. It is agenda driven. It is not honest.

    Propaganda? Agenda driven?

    Looks like it's data-driven to me:

    Quote
    The Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS) was a comprehensive survey of mathematics taught and learned around the world. Twenty-two nations participated in this broad and longitudinal study that took place from 1976 to 1989. SIMS researchers Kifer, Wolfe, and Schmidt (1993) identified four levels of 8th grade math study typically found in most American middle or junior high schools, which they termed remedial, regular, enriched, and algebra.*

    For the SIMS study, 8th graders in all four tracks completed a pretest of pre-algebra arithmetic skills at the beginning of the year. Researchers examined the distribution of scores on the test by student and by math track. Although it was expected that class-type performance would be different, Kifer and colleagues' (1993) analysis of student and classroom performance found considerable score overlap among tracks.

    Only half of the students who achieved the top 10 scores on the pretest and one-third of the students in the top 25 had actually been placed in the algebra-level classes. Inequities existed on the other end of the proficiency spectrum as well: Nearly 50 percent of the students assigned to remedial classes had scores that were better than 25 percent of the students in general math. In addition, Kifer and colleagues found that 5 of the 23 remedial classes had higher mean scores than 75 percent of the students in general math, 50 percent of the students in pre-algebra, and 25 percent of the students in algebra.

    Oh, look. Science.

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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    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.


    ITA. 'Grouping is done by subject' (above) is important. AFAIK, 'tracking' involves grouping across subjects.

    On the other hand, I'd rather have 'tracking' than nothing at all (as it is now).

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    Originally Posted by Dude
    Originally Posted by 22B
    Again, this is just off the charts extremist propaganda. It is agenda driven. It is not honest.

    Propaganda? Agenda driven?

    Looks like it's data-driven to me:

    Quote
    The Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS) was a comprehensive survey of mathematics taught and learned around the world. Twenty-two nations participated in this broad and longitudinal study that took place from 1976 to 1989. SIMS researchers Kifer, Wolfe, and Schmidt (1993) identified four levels of 8th grade math study typically found in most American middle or junior high schools, which they termed remedial, regular, enriched, and algebra.*

    For the SIMS study, 8th graders in all four tracks completed a pretest of pre-algebra arithmetic skills at the beginning of the year. Researchers examined the distribution of scores on the test by student and by math track. Although it was expected that class-type performance would be different, Kifer and colleagues' (1993) analysis of student and classroom performance found considerable score overlap among tracks.

    Only half of the students who achieved the top 10 scores on the pretest and one-third of the students in the top 25 had actually been placed in the algebra-level classes. Inequities existed on the other end of the proficiency spectrum as well: Nearly 50 percent of the students assigned to remedial classes had scores that were better than 25 percent of the students in general math. In addition, Kifer and colleagues found that 5 of the 23 remedial classes had higher mean scores than 75 percent of the students in general math, 50 percent of the students in pre-algebra, and 25 percent of the students in algebra.

    Oh, look. Science.


    So it looks like grouping for tracking was (very often) done badly.

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    BTW, to clarify: in the expression 'grouping by ability' I do not mean 'innate ability' (e. g., something normally measured by IQ tests), but instead the 'ability to handle a specific course at the specific time'.

    E. g., one student could spend 2 h / week on a course, while another may spend 15 h / week.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Quote
    The goal of anti-tracking extremists is to destroy education for more able students.

    This could certainly also be classified as an "extremist" view. (Why would that really be anyone's goal? The goal is educational equity, although there is surely some politics and some "the top end does fine without our help and we don't need to worry" mixed in there. I don't really have a dog in the fight on tracking though I do have one completely "tracked" child in a gifted magnet--which, IIRC, you also oppose...)

    If you look around the world, and throughout history, you will find people who have wanted to destroy good things. People certainly do have goals like that, as you are perfectly well aware. In the United States there are some extremely nasty adversarial fights, and strategies include what amounts to burning your opponent's crops. This is definitely a phenomenon in education. The primary obstacle to getting a good education is that movements who have the power to do so are choosing to deny that opportunity.

    Even though you say "The goal is educational equity" I really doubt that anyone truly believes that, any more than they would believe that forcing all 7 year olds to wear exactly size 7 clothing would enforce "clothing equity". I'm sure you understand the logic.

    I've no idea why you would say I "oppose" a "gifted magnet". Around here there is no such thing. There are "magnet" schools. There are "gifted" schools. They are two completely different things.

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    If you look around the world, and throughout history, you will find people who have wanted to destroy good things. People certainly do have goals like that, as you are perfectly well aware. In the United States there are some extremely nasty adversarial fights, and strategies include what amounts to burning your opponent's crops. This is definitely a phenomenon in education. The primary obstacle to getting a good education is that movements who have the power to do so are choosing to deny that opportunity.

    Yes.

    Originally Posted by 22B
    ... "The goal is educational equity" I really doubt that anyone truly believes that, any more than they would believe that forcing all 7 year olds to wear exactly size 7 clothing would enforce "clothing equity".


    Re. whether it is a 'true' belief: many people *truly* think along the lines of 'they already have it good'.

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    Originally Posted by arlen1
    Originally Posted by Dude
    Quote
    ...broad and longitudinal study that took place from 1976 to 1989...
    Oh, look. Science.

    So it looks like grouping for tracking was (very often) done badly.
    Could be, but even if so, that would not be an argument against tracking, of course. It would simply mean that placement of students into the right classes needed to be done better.

    Of course, it could also be that the study had systematic flaws. For example, if a study found that remedial students at Harvard were more academically advanced and able than honors students at Podunk Community College, that would hardly be grounds to question the legitimacy of the labels "remedial" and "honors"

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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.


    No, they do suffer - they are deprived of an academic opportunity, and they do often suffer from under-challenge (there is a long, well-known, list: lack of organisational skills, perfectionism, inattention, etc. - there are posts here about this all the time.)

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Of course, it could also be that the study had systematic flaws. For example, if a study found that remedial students at Harvard were more academically advanced and able than honors students at Podunk Community College, that would hardly be grounds to question the legitimacy of the labels "remedial" and "honors"

    This study found no such thing, because, 8th graders.

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    Originally Posted by arlen1
    No, they do suffer - they are deprived of an academic opportunity, and they do often suffer from under-challenge (there is a long, well-known, list: lack of organisational skills, perfectionism, inattention, etc. - there are posts here about this all the time.)

    To be fair, we're talking about very different populations and strategies here. Sorting students into quartiles is very different from specific services for the right tail of the distribution curve. The top 1% would still be ill-served in a class for the top 25%.

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Of course, it could also be that the study had systematic flaws. For example, if a study found that remedial students at Harvard were more academically advanced and able than honors students at Podunk Community College, that would hardly be grounds to question the legitimacy of the labels "remedial" and "honors".


    True; I just assumed that the study was done right - comparisons were done inside each school. (This would be so absurd, or disingenuous, if these comparisons were done across schools - this actually made me laugh.)

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    Originally Posted by Dude
    Originally Posted by arlen1
    No, they do suffer - they are deprived of an academic opportunity, and they do often suffer from under-challenge (there is a long, well-known, list: lack of organisational skills, perfectionism, inattention, etc. - there are posts here about this all the time.)

    To be fair, we're talking about very different populations and strategies here. Sorting students into quartiles is very different from specific services for the right tail of the distribution curve. The top 1% would still be ill-served in a class for the top 25%.


    They are even worse served in the class of top 100%. (I'd take top 25% now.)

    (I do agree that ideally the course for the top 1% should be different from the course for the top 25%.)

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    Originally Posted by Dude
    Originally Posted by 22B
    Of course, it could also be that the study had systematic flaws. For example, if a study found that remedial students at Harvard were more academically advanced and able than honors students at Podunk Community College, that would hardly be grounds to question the legitimacy of the labels "remedial" and "honors"

    This study found no such thing, because, 8th graders.


    To clarify: I do not think 22B meant literally 'Harvard' and 'Podunk' - these were just quick labels meaning to point out that it is absurd or disingenuous to compare across schools.

    So it is not known whether their comparison is valid/makes sense or not.

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    Originally Posted by master of none
    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)

    That reminds me of what my kids heard from one of their current teachers - while she teaches several GT 6th grade classes, she would be hard pressed to find enough kids to fill even one "real" GT class.

    Your high school GT system is just wacky. How the heck can it be GT if you are taking Algebra II as a high school senior. In our district, you can't be on the GT math track unless you have taken Algebra I and Geometry in middle school. The lowest GT math course in high school is Algebra II, which is only available to freshmen.

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    I can see that this thread has veered into a discussion regarding tracking and SES factors. Regardless of what the various research concludes, at the end of the day, we are most concerned with the effect on our own kids. I can see how tracking could harm those in the lower ability/achievement levels, which is why I did not make a big fuss when my kids' elementary school eliminated the stand-alone pseudo GT class for reading/language arts. Interestingly, they kept the stand-alone pseudo GT class for math/science, probably because they could not even pretend that it would have been workable from the teachers' end. Anyhow, all the GT kids were equally distributed into three of the six 5th grade classes, which each have three differentiated "groups." Notwithstanding the "differentiated" instructions my kids supposedly received in their group during a small fraction of class-time, it was obvious to them (or so they volunteered this information to me) that the curriculum and expectations were inferior to prior years.

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    I've no idea why you would say I "oppose" a "gifted magnet". Around here there is no such thing. There are "magnet" schools. There are "gifted" schools. They are two completely different things.

    It was my understanding that you considered gifted magnets a political ploy to manipulate test scores and student demographics.

    I'm not one for conspiracy theories. Are there problems with the current educational system? Sure. Do GT students sometimes have a hard time because some think they are "fine" and need no attention? Yes. I'd like to mention here, though, that my son, who is not in the magnet yet, has received quite a lot of individualized attention and differentiation, all teacher-driven. He is extra work for them and they do it even though they do not have to. I was moved by a recent conference with his teacher where she expressed compassion for him, an understanding of how class is for him, and a desire to help him.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Quote
    I've no idea why you would say I "oppose" a "gifted magnet". Around here there is no such thing. There are "magnet" schools. There are "gifted" schools. They are two completely different things.

    It was my understanding that you considered gifted magnets a political ploy to manipulate test scores and student demographics.

    That is not correct. That was not your understanding.

    I have simply said that in our area, the term "gifted magnet" is a meaningless oxymoron. The terms "gifted" and "magnet" are mutually exclusive. There are plenty of "magnet" schools (self contained) in our area. There are plenty of "gifted" schools (within gen ed) schools in our area. But there is absolutely no way such a thing as a "gifted magnet" school could ever exist in our area.

    I don't understand why do you keep using this term "gifted magnet". Most people involved in education in our area would get major cognitive dissonance seeing those two words put together like that.

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    Originally Posted by Quantum2003
    Anyhow, all the GT kids were equally distributed into three of the six 5th grade classes, which each have three differentiated "groups." Notwithstanding the "differentiated" instructions my kids supposedly received in their group during a small fraction of class-time, it was obvious to them (or so they volunteered this information to me) that the curriculum and expectations were inferior to prior years.
    This is where anti-tracking "research" does real damage. The schools probably believe the "research" that the gifted kids need to be spread around so that they can sprinkle their magic gifted pixie dust on all the less endowed students. But the gifted kids have got better things to do than sitting around being starved of education. They need more advanced instruction, that the average and below average kids cannot benefit from. They need to be in separate classes receiving separate educations.

    The anti-tracking advocates have done some very deceptive "research". For example they claim to have "demonstrated" that there is little benefit to ability grouping, and more benefit to mixed ability groups, but their trick is to make this comparison when everyone is forced to do exactly the same on-grade level classes. They conveniently ignore the huge benefit the higher ability students would gain from much higher level classes (and the lower ability students would be better served with lower level classes).

    It is easy for us to see through these tricks, but the damage is done anyway, and many school fall for it, and separate the gifted kids, instead of grouping them together and providing advanced instruction. The anti-tracking advocates are relentless in their goal to totally dismantle ability grouping, and they are being very successful at it.

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    Oh yes my quote of last week 'we spend a lot of time getting a balance of low,middle and high achievers. It is hard for a teacher to teach a class of low achievers because they have no-one to spark off'. Glad you think gifted kids serve some purpose.

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    I have simply said that in our area, the term "gifted magnet" is a meaningless oxymoron. The terms "gifted" and "magnet" are mutually exclusive. There are plenty of "magnet" schools (self contained) in our area. There are plenty of "gifted" schools (within gen ed) schools in our area. But there is absolutely no way such a thing as a "gifted magnet" school could ever exist in our area.

    I don't understand why do you keep using this term "gifted magnet". Most people involved in education in our area would get major cognitive dissonance seeing those two words put together like that.

    Huh? I don't understand what you're getting at. I keep "using the term" because that is the term used for my daughter's program by everyone, including the school board. A magnet draws students from around the district because of its special qualities. In our case, we have a GT magnet that is a school within a school. You have to have an IQ over 130 to get in, but anyone from the district with that number can apply. Selection is by lottery with preference to students with a sib already at the magnet. I have no idea why the terms gifted and magnet would be mutually exclusive. It's a well-known concept, not an oxymoron. I'm not understanding what you are getting at--sorry.

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    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.
    I have read "Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality", 2nd ed. (2005) by Jeannie Oakes. The first edition of the book was very influential. I think she is misguided and has had a negative effect on American education, but she never says anything like what was asserted above.

    I think 22B wrote elsewhere in the thread that gifted or ability grouped classes won't have much benefit if they use the same curriculum as the other classes, and I have seen research supporting this. Even in kindergarten, if some children don't know the alphabet and how to spell their names, and others read fluently, the language arts curriculum should be different for the two groups. But a good multi-year curriculum builds on what was covered in previous years and does not repeat material unnecessarily. If you group children from the beginning and provide different curricula, how do you preserve the ability of children starting in the lower groups to move to a higher group? Do you give exams each September to help sort the students?

    I think there should be ability grouping in math and reading, from the beginning, with distinct curricula, but doing so will raise thorny questions.

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    Originally Posted by puffin
    Oh yes my quote of last week 'we spend a lot of time getting a balance of low,middle and high achievers. It is hard for a teacher to teach a class of low achievers because they have no-one to spark off'. Glad you think gifted kids serve some purpose.
    Ah yes "spark off" appears to be another variation of "sprinkle magic gifted pixie dust". It appears to be another excuse to deny gifted/advanced kids the education they need, so they can languish captive in a regular class providing their pixie dust spark. (Thank you anti-tracking "researchers".) But why can't teachers do their job? Why are students expected to do the teacher's job? Can't the teacher provide a "spark"?

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    The link provided is a chapter of a book, not research, and while it refers to research it also draws heavily on personal anecdote. A careful read shows apples-and-oranges comparisons.

    A bibliography of the cited research is not included, making it difficult to find the actual research upon which assertions are based and determine whether there was cherry-picking of certain data while ignoring other data, conclusions, or known shortcomings.

    The authors do not use neutral language but choose a presentation style which may be intended to persuade but shows a slant or bias. This leaves readers to discuss opinions of opinions.

    Anyone have a link to a source document (research paper) to share what informed their view on the topic?

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    Indigo, I'd try Google Scholar. I don't know if you have university library access, however. There are lots of articles about this. I've read them in the past for work. It is, of course, a political subject, as are many education topics.

    As I say, I don't necessarily agree with the antitracking POV but I consider it very reasonable to look at the data, and some does seem to show that tracking can create issues. Now, is that the fault of ability grouping as a concept or poorly done ability grouping? That's another question. But I have to have concern for kids who were "tracked" early, are stuck in that track, and could achieve more. What if it were your own child? Some of our 2E kids could easily get "tracked" into a low-achieving group. In fact, it's been discussed here on the board. Parents get up in arms about it because they feel the child is being denied opportunity.

    I think part of what needs to be thought about is something GT advocates don't love to think about: ability is not as fixed or as easily determined by a test as we might like. A child might test high as a preschooler due to an enriched environment and struggle later in a high track. A child may test low due to being ESL or 2E but be capable of more. I know some gifted kids who are not motivated and prefer to focus on other things, and some bright-not-gifted kids who are highly motivated and can cope with having a lot asked of them. All these children may be poorly served by a rigid tracking system. In HS, a friend of mine transferred from another district and was put in the "average" track because that's wht my high-achieving school did with new kids. She was gifted in science but it took two years before the school relented and moved her up to AP. That was a waste of her time and ability.

    I don't regret having been tracked as a child, but I saw its negative effects as well. If we do track and group, we have to be open to changes in children's skills and abilities. But many parents would fight their child being "demoted" tooth and claw. (FTR, I was demoted in math out of the accelerated track and into "high average." It was likely the right choice, and my parents were dismayed but did not protest.)


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    Quote
    I'd try Google Scholar. I don't know if you have university library access, however. There are lots of articles about this. I've read them in the past for work. It is, of course, a political subject, as are many education topics.
    I'm asking for the research which informed your view. Can you point us to it?

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    If we do track and group, we have to be open to changes in children's skills and abilities. But many parents would fight their child being "demoted" tooth and claw.
    In addition to the cajoling, there will be preparation. The Russian School of Math, a chain which is growing in the Boston suburbs and around the country, says its students are more likely to be in "top track" math (Advanced Algebra I) in 7th grade. Their math contest preparation programs make it more likely that your child will qualify for inter-school math competitions in middle school. We are hoping that our younger two children, who are bright but not at the level of the eldest child, will be so boosted. I am impressed by how our 3rd-grader daughter is learning algebra at RSM. Chinese-American parents organize weekend schools that include advanced math classes, taught by the many Chinese fathers that are scientists and engineers.

    My point is that when you group or track or have academic competitions, afterschools will crop up, catering heavily but not exclusively to the children of immigrant parents. I'll admit that if 1st grade math were tracked based on a test, my wife and I would be preparing our children well in advance for it. Are Americans ready for this level of sorting and attendant competition and after-schooling from an early age? The amount of afterschooling would decline if better curricula were used (our schools use Everyday Math, and I don't expect my children to learn much from it), but it would not go to zero.

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    I have seen some subject ability grouping going on in our schools and they do test and change groups a couple times a year. They do not tell the parents when they are doing the testing, although they do not hide it either so I guess some parents may prep the kids.

    None of the grouping in early elementary is high enough for a HG+ child, but it surely is better for an HG+ child to be in the top group than in a general group with kids of all abilities in terms of less boredom and maybe they are learning a little.

    I have inquired about tracking/grouping in middle school years and it sounds like they do it to some extent but was not given a clear answer.

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    Indigo, I don't have the time to look for the research right now. I read educational/psyc research for work so I read literally hundreds of articles a month and don't recall where I read what. But I'm not sure what you're getting at. There is a ton of research on this.

    I don't really have a "view," as I think I said. I see both sides of this argument. However, I think it's important that people know that there is research behind the anti-tracking movement. Good research? That's a worthwhile question, as ever. Why not start here and look at the studies cited? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracking_(education)

    I didn't think it was news that people oppose tracking and that there is research to support that, though the topic is obviously controversial.


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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Quote
    I have simply said that in our area, the term "gifted magnet" is a meaningless oxymoron. The terms "gifted" and "magnet" are mutually exclusive. There are plenty of "magnet" schools (self contained) in our area. There are plenty of "gifted" schools (within gen ed) schools in our area. But there is absolutely no way such a thing as a "gifted magnet" school could ever exist in our area.

    I don't understand why do you keep using this term "gifted magnet". Most people involved in education in our area would get major cognitive dissonance seeing those two words put together like that.

    Huh? I don't understand what you're getting at. I keep "using the term" because that is the term used for my daughter's program by everyone, including the school board. A magnet draws students from around the district because of its special qualities. In our case, we have a GT magnet that is a school within a school. You have to have an IQ over 130 to get in, but anyone from the district with that number can apply. Selection is by lottery with preference to students with a sib already at the magnet. I have no idea why the terms gifted and magnet would be mutually exclusive. It's a well-known concept, not an oxymoron. I'm not understanding what you are getting at--sorry.

    Okay this really is a side issue, but my statements are based on my local conditions.

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    Magnet schools have been set up as part of school desegregation agreements (as in St. Louis) more broadly I understand them to be any public school with a specialized curriculum that attracts students from an entire school district. So "gifted magnet" makes perfect sense to me.

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    Although there has been some research supportive of de-tracking, there has also been research finding it has negative effects, for example the paper discussed in the thread Tracking in the Era of College Prep for All.

    The value of tracking depends on
    (1) what subjects are tracked, and at what grade level
    (2) whether good, distinct curricula are used for all tracks
    (3) how well students are chosen for tracks both initially and later on
    (4) the range of student ability
    (5) the evaluation criteria used

    and other factors. The question is probably not "Is tracking good?" but "Under what conditions is tracking good?".

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    Quote
    There is a ton of research on this.
    Just looking for the research which informed your statements. There are many articles which emphasize one point or another apart from the context of the research.

    Quote
    Good research? That's a worthwhile question, as ever.
    Precisely.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Indigo, I'd try Google Scholar. I don't know if you have university library access, however. There are lots of articles about this. I've read them in the past for work. It is, of course, a political subject, as are many education topics.

    As I say, I don't necessarily agree with the antitracking POV but I consider it very reasonable to look at the data, and some does seem to show that tracking can create issues. Now, is that the fault of ability grouping as a concept or poorly done ability grouping? That's another question. But I have to have concern for kids who were "tracked" early, are stuck in that track, and could achieve more. What if it were your own child? Some of our 2E kids could easily get "tracked" into a low-achieving group. In fact, it's been discussed here on the board. Parents get up in arms about it because they feel the child is being denied opportunity.

    I think part of what needs to be thought about is something GT advocates don't love to think about: ability is not as fixed or as easily determined by a test as we might like. A child might test high as a preschooler due to an enriched environment and struggle later in a high track. A child may test low due to being ESL or 2E but be capable of more. I know some gifted kids who are not motivated and prefer to focus on other things, and some bright-not-gifted kids who are highly motivated and can cope with having a lot asked of them. All these children may be poorly served by a rigid tracking system. In HS, a friend of mine transferred from another district and was put in the "average" track because that's wht my high-achieving school did with new kids. She was gifted in science but it took two years before the school relented and moved her up to AP. That was a waste of her time and ability.

    I don't regret having been tracked as a child, but I saw its negative effects as well. If we do track and group, we have to be open to changes in children's skills and abilities. But many parents would fight their child being "demoted" tooth and claw. (FTR, I was demoted in math out of the accelerated track and into "high average." It was likely the right choice, and my parents were dismayed but did not protest.)

    A lot of this information about the complexities of ability grouping is very old news, and I would expect that people on this forum are generally well aware of the issues and have thought deeply about them. Life is complex, and sometimes things that are important and worth doing are difficult and complicated. We all already knew all that.

    The question is how do you optimize learning over a population of children with a huge variation in learning capacity, subject to constraints of practicality (e.g. budget constraints in teacher student ratios). A very simple obvious effective method is to group students by ability/achievement and deliver to them an education tailored to their current level. Sure, there are many complex issues, but the benefits of ability grouping, in terms of optimizing learning, are so huge, that this is what should be done, and there are no grounds for not doing so. Ability grouping is by a huge margin the single most effective way to optimize learning. Nothing else comes close. There is really no alternative.

    But the anti-tracking advocates in the links mentioned in this thread,
    http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/options-tracking
    http://www.ascd.org/publications/bo...-Is-and-How-to-Start-Dismantling-It.aspx
    have absolutely no interest in improving education by improving the implementation of ability grouping. Instead they advocate a scorched earth policy of systematically eliminating every trace of ability grouping.


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    Perhaps I misattributed your views because you are opposed to magnets, but not gifted schools. OK, but I don't get the denial of the very existence of GT magnets.

    Quote
    Sure, there are many complex issues, but the benefits of ability grouping, in terms of optimizing learning, are so huge, that this is what should be done, and there are no grounds for not doing so. Ability grouping is by a huge margin the single most effective way to optimize learning. Nothing else comes close. There is really no alternative.

    These are very sweeping statements. If we want to demand backup, where is yours that this is true?




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    Quote
    Magnet schools... any public school with a specialized curriculum that attracts students from an entire school district. So "gifted magnet" makes perfect sense to me.
    Great post. Thanks for taking the time to describe and define this. This concept of a gifted magnet is similar to my understanding as well, although a magnet might also attract students from outside a district.

    Taking time to define words and their usage, developing a common vocabulary for purposes of a discussion at hand builds a solid foundation for mutual understanding.

    While some unfamiliar with this approach may see it as nitpicky, it is often beneficial to take a step back and discuss definitions, to see if people are talking about the same thing. Often they are not.

    ETA: Magnet Schools, by U.S. Department of Education, September 2004
    Quote
    Magnet Terminology. Any general discussion about magnet schools requires some clarification of terminology. In addition to different terms being used in different districts, the same terms are sometimes used to mean slightly different things from one district to another. The term magnet program, for example, is used in a variety of very different ways.

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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    Although there has been some research supportive of de-tracking, there has also been research finding it has negative effects, for example the paper discussed in the thread Tracking in the Era of College Prep for All.

    The value of tracking depends on
    (1) what subjects are tracked, and at what grade level
    (2) whether good, distinct curricula are used for all tracks
    (3) how well students are chosen for tracks both initially and later on
    (4) the range of student ability
    (5) the evaluation criteria used

    and other factors. The question is probably not "Is tracking good?" but "Under what conditions is tracking good?".

    I mostly agree but what if the political realities of school systems mean that tracking if implemented widely will tend to not adhere to such controls and instead more often devolve into segregation? I don't have a pat answer to that fear but its what I personally struggle with when I'm reading various positions on the subject.

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    Originally Posted by BenjaminL
    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    Although there has been some research supportive of de-tracking, there has also been research finding it has negative effects, for example the paper discussed in the thread Tracking in the Era of College Prep for All.

    The value of tracking depends on
    (1) what subjects are tracked, and at what grade level
    (2) whether good, distinct curricula are used for all tracks
    (3) how well students are chosen for tracks both initially and later on
    (4) the range of student ability
    (5) the evaluation criteria used

    and other factors. The question is probably not "Is tracking good?" but "Under what conditions is tracking good?".

    I mostly agree but what if the political realities of school systems mean that tracking if implemented widely will tend to not adhere to such controls and instead more often devolve into segregation? I don't have a pat answer to that fear but its what I personally struggle with when I'm reading various positions on the subject.
    The political reality I fear is that lots of policymakers want the educational system to produce equal results by group, making even soundly implemented tracking impossible.

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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    My point is that when you group or track or have academic competitions, afterschools will crop up, catering heavily but not exclusively to the children of immigrant parents.

    I agree, but you forgot to add wealthy parents.

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    The subject of race may be sensitive to some of the members of this forum. Please be respectful. I have deleted any of the posts or quotes that reference race in this thread. I am sorry to have to do that. Please keep things clean and friendly. Thank you.

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    Quote
    Great post. Thanks for taking the time to describe and define this. This concept of a gifted magnet is similar to my understanding as well, although a magnet might also attract students from outside a district.

    Taking time to define words and their usage, developing a common vocabulary for purposes of a discussion at hand builds a solid foundation for mutual understanding.

    I also described GT magnets and how ours works earlier in the thread.

    I wasn't aware of this, but research on the flaws of tracking has led to the "algebra for all in 8th grade" push. There seems to be a great desire for citations in this thread. Very well:

    Quote
    Some findings are of note regarding minority and low-SES students. For
    example, after universal acceleration in heterogeneously grouped classes,
    the percentage of minority students who met the mathematics commencement
    requirement (passing the Sequential Mathematics I regents examination)
    before they entered high school tripled, from 23% to 75%. Also, higher
    percentages of African American, Latino, and low-SES students passed the
    exam in eighth-grade detracked classes than in tracked eighth- and ninth-grade
    classes before universal acceleration. Moreover, two thirds of African American,
    Latino, and low-SES students in the post-universal-acceleration cohorts
    successfully completed Sequential Mathematics III, the first advanced mathematics
    course identified in the literature as being associated with success in
    college (Adelman, 1999).

    and, regarding high acheievers:

    Quote
    Because we used stanine scores to identify high achievers, we
    were not able to control for fine within-group differences. Therefore, we were
    not able to determine whether heterogeneous grouping affected the scores of
    particular subgroups (e.g., the top 2%). However, we can conclude that the
    scores of students in the district at the stanine level of 8 or 9 were not affected
    by heterogeneous grouping...The second measure of posttreatment achievement consisted of scores on
    advanced placement exams in calculus (AB and BC). In this case, we found
    that universal acceleration was associated with increased achievement among
    (a) all students who took the exam and (b) high achievers who took the
    exam. As can be seen in Table 6, the scores of members of the post-universal acceleration
    cohorts were significantly higher (p < .01) than those of members
    of the pre-universal-acceleration cohorts. Because the regression coefficient
    was .32 and the standard deviation was .99, the effect size associated with universal
    acceleration was an increase of one third of a point on a 5-point scale.

    I'm no mathematician myself, but in my brief scan I don't find this research to be some sort of agenda-driven hocus pocus. It's of interest, and worth considering, IMO.
    This is the paper, but full text is likely not available to those without academic journal access: http://aer.sagepub.com/content/43/1/137.1

    BTW--does antitracking research conform with my personal confirmation bias? NOt really. But as an open-minded person I feel it's necessary to look at what the research shows.


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    Its a bit of a digression but as I remember "Algebra for All" at least in California was deemed a failure and mostly abandoned.


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    Originally Posted by cmguy
    Magnet schools have been set up as part of school desegregation agreements (as in St. Louis) more broadly I understand them to be any public school with a specialized curriculum that attracts students from an entire school district. So "gifted magnet" makes perfect sense to me.

    Like many words, the usage in some circles of the word "magnet" may have changed from its historical meaning, which is a school that meets certain quotas, and brings certain students into the public school system who would otherwise not participate.

    But it's really not an issue of what the word "magnet" means and who gets to define it. The real point is that I was using words the way I needed to to describe my local conditions and personal experiences, where in fact "magnet" definitely has its historical meaning as a primarily quota-driven entity whereas "gifted" means top (approx) 3% according to standard tests like WISC and WJ.

    The problem is that ultramarina made an absolutely false claim that I had made some expression of "opposition" to "gifted magnets".

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    Originally Posted by BenjaminL
    Its a bit of a digression but as I remember "Algebra for All" at least in California was deemed a failure and mostly abandoned.

    That's hardly surprising. Classes that are too hard are just as inneffective as classes that are too easy.

    So if "Algebra for All" is no good should we have "Algebra for Some" or "Algebra for None"?

    ETA: In case anyone isn't following the logic, "Algebra for All" and "Algebra for None" are both anti-tracking positions, while "Algebra for Some" is pro-tracking.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
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    Sure, there are many complex issues, but the benefits of ability grouping, in terms of optimizing learning, are so huge, that this is what should be done, and there are no grounds for not doing so. Ability grouping is by a huge margin the single most effective way to optimize learning. Nothing else comes close. There is really no alternative.

    These are very sweeping statements. If we want to demand backup, where is yours that this is true?

    What is there to prove? The only question is, do differences in ability actually exist? Well, of course they do. There's really nothing else to prove. Ability-difference deniers such as
    http://www.ascd.org/publications/bo...-Is-and-How-to-Start-Dismantling-It.aspx
    use phrases such as "so-called "ability"" (their quotes around "ability").

    Natural differences in ability are huge. Students at the 25th percentile should not be in the same class as students at the 75th percentile. The differences in ability are too large to provide suitable education to both ends of that range.


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    Quote
    The problem is that ultramarina made an absolutely false claim that I had made some expression of "opposition" to "gifted magnets".

    I'm sorry if I misrepresented you. I recall you saying that you did not want your children to be "score pawns" and that you regarded school within-school set-ups (I use this term to avoid the apparently problematic "gifted magnet" term, but I consider them the same--they are not "gifted programs," because we have gifted programs, ie pull-outs, in all schools here, as is common) as a ploy to manipulate statistics. I interpreted this as opposition to gifted magnet schools (and all magnet schools, I assume). You also said the choice to put gifted programs in lower-performing schools was unfortunate. What am I not getting? If this is incorrect, please feel free to clarify.

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    Quote
    Ability grouping is by a huge margin the single most effective way to optimize learning. Nothing else comes close.

    You don't think this statement needs back-up? "Single most effective" sounds like a claim looking for statistical confirmation to me. Sure, it may be appealing to some or all of us as a seemingly intuitive idea. Many ideas are seemingly intuitive, but that doesn't mean they are correct.

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    Anyway, here is an interesting article on Algebra for All:

    http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/02/10/21algebra_ep.h29.html

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Quote
    Sure, there are many complex issues, but the benefits of ability grouping, in terms of optimizing learning, are so huge, that this is what should be done, and there are no grounds for not doing so. Ability grouping is by a huge margin the single most effective way to optimize learning. Nothing else comes close. There is really no alternative.

    These are very sweeping statements. If we want to demand backup, where is yours that this is true?

    What is there to prove? The only question is, do differences in ability actually exist? Well, of course they do. There's really nothing else to prove. Ability-difference deniers such as
    http://www.ascd.org/publications/bo...-Is-and-How-to-Start-Dismantling-It.aspx
    use phrases such as "so-called "ability"" (their quotes around "ability").

    Natural differences in ability are huge. Students at the 25th percentile should not be in the same class as students at the 75th percentile. The differences in ability are too large to provide suitable education to both ends of that range.

    While this may seem self-evident, I'm not immediately convinced. The variation in the middle of the bell curve is much smaller than at the edges. The entire cohort in the 25th-75th percentile range may still be substantially at the same point in the curriculum and capable of being taught in a single class effectively. This is the fundamental assumption about how group education works. Most students are similar and you don't need to finely categorize them. Short of a 1-on-1 tutoring situation you're never going to perfectly match the teaching to the student but the tradeoffs are acceptable in the middle (and that's most of the distribution curve rather than just a narrow subsection).

    Also my point is not that you chose the wrong arbitrary numbers but that there is probably little value in over-separating and the number of students that this should apply to are fairly small. I suspect real data would show much farther out points on the curve to be where students become so fundamentally different that you no longer have much overlap in what instruction they need. And even in the case of the bottom groups there are other models that may be more effective than segregating them out. For instance, I've seen some articles floating around where instead you layer tutoring or an entire companion supporting class on and you can achieve better outcomes than providing solely a remedial track.


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    Originally Posted by BenjaminL
    While this may seem self-evident, I'm not immediately convinced. The variation in the middle of the bell curve is much smaller than at the edges. The entire cohort in the 25th-75th percentile range may still be substantially at the same point in the curriculum and capable of being taught in a single class effectively.
    IQ test scores are normed to have standard deviation of 15 or 16. If the deviation scale is comparable to the mental_age/chronological_age scale (which is why a standard deviation of 15 or 16 was chosen), then in a class of 6-year-olds, the +1 SD children have a mental age of 6*1.15 = 6.90 and the -1 SD children have a mental age of 6*0.85 = 5.1. So in 1st grade you have a spread of almost 2 years of mental age between +1 SD and -1 SD children, who are certainly not outliers. The within-school standard deviation of IQ may be less than 15, compressing the range, but OTOH chronological ages vary, causing another source of variation. I don't think dividing children into three groups is overdoing things. Elementary schools commonly have 3 or 4 classes per grade.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Anyway, here is an interesting article on Algebra for All:

    http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/02/10/21algebra_ep.h29.html

    This article touches on a lot of the problems our school system has:

    Quote
    “Simply sticking students in courses without preparing them ahead of time for the class does not seem to work as an intervention,” said Chrys Dougherty, the author of the Arkansas and Texas analysis, published last month by the National Center for Educational Achievement, in Austin, which is owned by the test publisher ACT Inc. “It seems to work with adequately prepared students, but not for the most challenged students.”

    I'm amazed that anyone even needed to do a study to figure that out. How could anyone possibly think that disadvantaged students would succeed in a class that was years beyond their current skill levels (seven years according to another study cited in this article)? This approach just makes these kids even MORE disadvantaged. I'd skip class, too, if it was that far over my head.

    Quote
    His findings are in keeping with a larger body of studies from the 1990s and early 2000s that suggested algebra was, for many students, the primary gateway to advanced-level mathematics and college. The problem was that too many students—particularly those who were poor or members of disadvantaged minority groups—were turned away at the gate, screened out by ability-grouping practices at their schools.

    This guy makes it sound like the evil schools were deliberately excluding students based on either their family income or their races/ethnic groups as a way of slamming the gates of education squarely in their faces.

    Sorry, but this is wishful thinking. I'm not trying to deny that prejudicial attitudes and actions exist in this country, but in this case, I have to doubt that there was a systematic and successful large-scale movement to exclude low SES and minority students from algebra as recently as the 2000s.

    Quote
    “And there’s no simple solution to this problem,” he added, “because we also know that when tracking is eliminated, students at high levels don’t gain as much as they do in high-level or [Advanced Placement] classes.”

    He's admitting that placing too many unqualified students into classes that they're not ready for ends up watering down the class and diluting the learning for the kids who belong there --- while still not giving skills to the unqualified kids. Again, forcing disadvantaged students into classes they aren't ready for just makes them MORE disadvantaged by making it even harder for them to catch up.

    ETA: I agree with 22B. A LOT of this stuff, including algebra-for-all, is about politics and not about what's best for the students.


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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    Originally Posted by BenjaminL
    While this may seem self-evident, I'm not immediately convinced. The variation in the middle of the bell curve is much smaller than at the edges. The entire cohort in the 25th-75th percentile range may still be substantially at the same point in the curriculum and capable of being taught in a single class effectively.
    IQ test scores are normed to have standard deviation of 15 or 16. If the deviation scale is comparable to the mental_age/chronological_age scale (which is why a standard deviation of 15 or 16 was chosen), then in a class of 6-year-olds, the +1 SD children have a mental age of 6*1.15 = 6.90 and the -1 SD children have a mental age of 6*0.85 = 5.1. So in 1st grade you have a spread of almost 2 years of mental age between +1 SD and -1 SD children, who are certainly not outliers. The within-school standard deviation of IQ may be less than 15, compressing the range, but OTOH chronological ages vary, causing another source of variation. I don't think dividing children into three groups is overdoing things. Elementary schools commonly have 3 or 4 classes per grade.

    Hear, hear.

    smile



    I have also been stunned that anyone could actually believe that simply dropping students into coursework that they are ill-suited to, and even less well-prepared for is somehow an... opportunity for those students. ???

    I'm baffled by that sort of thinking. Truly. I'll go even further than Val does, though, and call it what I think it actually is--

    magical thinking at its finest.


    And for the record, there are neither magnets NOR GT schools here. Cheers. wink What this means in practical terms is that there is no GT in secondary here due to the egalitarian thinking behind algebra-for-all. Here, of course, it's AP-for-all. Which has a lot in common with the term "free-for-all" but that is beside the point, I think.






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    Hello Everyone,

    Thank you to those of you who have been posting appropriately.

    This is the second time the behavior in the forum has resulted in a reminder that we all need to be friendly and courteous to others. If one more complaint is received and this behavior continues the thread will be closed.

    I hope everyone has a nice safe rest of their week.


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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
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    The problem is that ultramarina made an absolutely false claim that I had made some expression of "opposition" to "gifted magnets".

    I'm sorry if I misrepresented you. I recall you saying that you did not want your children to be "score pawns" and that you regarded school within-school set-ups (I use this term to avoid the apparently problematic "gifted magnet" term, but I consider them the same--they are not "gifted programs," because we have gifted programs, ie pull-outs, in all schools here, as is common) as a ploy to manipulate statistics. I interpreted this as opposition to gifted magnet schools (and all magnet schools, I assume). You also said the choice to put gifted programs in lower-performing schools was unfortunate. What am I not getting? If this is incorrect, please feel free to clarify.

    I just spent a very long time, and expended significant thought and effort, typing a very detailed explanation, but it has disappeared. It is unbelievably cruel.

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    Quote
    I have also been stunned that anyone could actually believe that simply dropping students into coursework that they are ill-suited to, and even less well-prepared for is somehow an... opportunity for those students. ???

    Sometimes people and children do rise to a higher level based on what is expected of them or how they are treated. Not always, obviously.

    And here's the thing. There seems to be an unexamined belief that tracking and grouping will be done correctly. Come on now. I've seen plenty of people posting here saying their GT child has been inappropriately placed for reading or math. If this happens to our kids, what happens to less obvious kids? What happens to kids whose parents lack the time, privilege, or willingness to fight? How many people here had their children retested or tested for 2E because the system somehow did not place them where they thought they should land?

    Do we really believe all those "low" and "middle" kids are appropriately placed?

    For that matter, I'm not sure about permanent "gifted" placement either.

    Let me just say once more that I am not some huge detracking advocate. I feel pretty unsure about AP for all, etc. But I also see why it is proposed. I think there has got to be a better way than either of these systems.

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    Could someone please explain to me what's going on. I am absolutely stunned.

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Originally Posted by puffin
    Oh yes my quote of last week 'we spend a lot of time getting a balance of low,middle and high achievers. It is hard for a teacher to teach a class of low achievers because they have no-one to spark off'. Glad you think gifted kids serve some purpose.
    Ah yes "spark off" appears to be another variation of "sprinkle magic gifted pixie dust". It appears to be another excuse to deny gifted/advanced kids the education they need, so they can languish captive in a regular class providing their pixie dust spark. (Thank you anti-tracking "researchers".) But why can't teachers do their job? Why are students expected to do the teacher's job? Can't the teacher provide a "spark"?

    The weird thing was she was talking about 5 to 7 year olds. I understand the problem with 13 year olds but if you can't get enthusiasm from 5 to 7.year olds you need to look within yourself not at other 5 to 7.year olds.

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    I would like to add that in a public forum, people will express opinions that some people may not agree with or like. I don't think that we need to "tell on" these people and request censorship of unpopular opinions because some of us don't like them. I don't agree with a lot of opinions here, but I deal with them by refuting them with facts, not suppressing them. IMO, this approach enriches the debate. Squelching debate doesn't.

    The problems with our education system are multi-factorial, as are the problems that a lot of students face. Politically motivated decision-making has a negative effect on all students, and stating the facts of how decisions are made is not, in my opinion, racist or worthy of being suppressed. Sometimes we have to face discomfiting facts in order to solve complex problems.


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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Do we really believe all those "low" and "middle" kids are appropriately placed?
    I can tell you they are not, just based on the students who transfer into our system on IEPs--which is already a slice of the population with more attention and more placement-relevant data than the other 85% (on nation-wide average) or so of students. We have had to re-place numerous students, in either direction, sometimes fairly dramatically. These are not even necessarily complex cases.


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    Quote
    I'm sure there are many who just hang around meeting low expectations. Which is why I understand the push for higher expectations all around. Where I part company with the reformists is what "all around" means. I do not believe that the expectations should be the same for everyone, nor do I believe as we were told at a common core meeting-- that before cc, only gifted classes had high expectations. Now everyone will. Special ed will be held to the same high expectations. No exceptions (on diploma track). I think we should raise the expectations of LEARNING (not of work output) for EVERYONE, including above average kids.

    Seeems reasonable to me, yeah. I think there is much to be thought about here.

    Quote
    My 2E who scored the highest in his grade on the SAT10 was in remedial classes and it was a year and a half long fight, complete with outside testing, to get him out, and get accommodations that allowed him to excel in the grade level and above classes.

    This is what I mean. Many parents will not do this, don't know they should do this, or are not capable of doing this. Class plays a part here. Many people have been brought up not to question the authority of teachers and the school system.


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    22B, someone or someones must have complained to the moderator. When you are in someone else's house (or forum), you have to play by their rules. Davidson reserves the right to edit or delete any of your posts. I did not read your deleted post but I do sympathize as I opposed censorship and I have been the subject of complaints on this forum as well. I had one post "edited" and one post deleted on different threads. I am okay with being deleted but I found being edited creepy as it changes the point/emphasis of the original post. Thankfully, I received an email so I was able to delete the edited post. Consider yourself lucky that you were deleted rather than edited. Also do not feel bad as there is no rhyme or reason as to who gets censored. I have seen truly offensive posts remain while some simply unpopular posts deleted/edited. Again, when you are in someone else's house . . .

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Quote
    I have also been stunned that anyone could actually believe that simply dropping students into coursework that they are ill-suited to, and even less well-prepared for is somehow an... opportunity for those students. ???

    Sometimes people and children do rise to a higher level based on what is expected of them or how they are treated. Not always, obviously.

    And here's the thing. There seems to be an unexamined belief that tracking and grouping will be done correctly. Come on now. I've seen plenty of people posting here saying their GT child has been inappropriately placed for reading or math. If this happens to our kids, what happens to less obvious kids? What happens to kids whose parents lack the time, privilege, or willingness to fight? How many people here had their children retested or tested for 2E because the system somehow did not place them where they thought they should land?

    Do we really believe all those "low" and "middle" kids are appropriately placed?

    For that matter, I'm not sure about permanent "gifted" placement either.

    Let me just say once more that I am not some huge detracking advocate. I feel pretty unsure about AP for all, etc. But I also see why it is proposed. I think there has got to be a better way than either of these systems.

    ITA, ultramarina. That is really the source of discomfiture for me. I know that I benefited from a decently implemented tracking system and my kids as well. However, I also see the damage to those who are misplaced or placed into the lower classes as low expectations can be truly compounding.

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    Originally Posted by Quantum2003
    22B, someone or someones must have complained to the moderator. When you are in someone else's house (or forum), you have to play by their rules. Davidson reserves the right to edit or delete any of your posts. I did not read your deleted post but I do sympathize as I opposed censorship and I have been the subject of complaints on this forum as well. I had one post "edited" and one post deleted on different threads. I am okay with being deleted but I found being edited creepy as it changes the point/emphasis of the original post. Thankfully, I received an email so I was able to delete the edited post. Consider yourself lucky that you were deleted rather than edited. Also do not feel bad as there is no rhyme or reason as to who gets censored. I have seen truly offensive posts remain while some simply unpopular posts deleted/edited. Again, when you are in someone else's house . . .

    What rules??! We can have absolutely no idea what the criteria are so that we can self-censor. Everyone has to second guess what words and topics are allowed. This has a chilling effect on any dialog.

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    Originally Posted by Val
    I would like to add that in a public forum, people will express opinions that some people may not agree with or like. I don't think that we need to "tell on" these people and request censorship of unpopular opinions because some of us don't like them. I don't agree with a lot of opinions here, but I deal with them by refuting them with facts, not suppressing them. IMO, this approach enriches the debate. Squelching debate doesn't.

    The problems with our education system are multi-factorial, as are the problems that a lot of students face. Politically motivated decision-making has a negative effect on all students, and stating the facts of how decisions are made is not, in my opinion, racist or worthy of being suppressed. Sometimes we have to face discomfiting facts in order to solve complex problems.


    I strongly agree with this.

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    On the flip side of this coin.

    There is a girl that went to elementary school with my ds11 when he was in public school. We picked her up several times to go to math competitions with my ds. She is now in 6th at the middle school. The course descriptions are weird there—The other day I saw her and asked how school was going. They (the school) placed her in 8th grade math and her parents had no idea.

    How do you have no idea? These are not poor people or disadvantaged in any way.

    I am quite sure this was all due to tracking. MAPs and such..
    Just food for thought.

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    At the top of the page, near the center, you are invited to click for the Board Rules.

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    Originally Posted by Quantum2003
    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    Quote
    I have also been stunned that anyone could actually believe that simply dropping students into coursework that they are ill-suited to, and even less well-prepared for is somehow an... opportunity for those students. ???

    Sometimes people and children do rise to a higher level based on what is expected of them or how they are treated. Not always, obviously.

    And here's the thing. There seems to be an unexamined belief that tracking and grouping will be done correctly. Come on now. I've seen plenty of people posting here saying their GT child has been inappropriately placed for reading or math. If this happens to our kids, what happens to less obvious kids? What happens to kids whose parents lack the time, privilege, or willingness to fight? How many people here had their children retested or tested for 2E because the system somehow did not place them where they thought they should land?

    Do we really believe all those "low" and "middle" kids are appropriately placed?

    For that matter, I'm not sure about permanent "gifted" placement either.

    Let me just say once more that I am not some huge detracking advocate. I feel pretty unsure about AP for all, etc. But I also see why it is proposed. I think there has got to be a better way than either of these systems.

    ITA, ultramarina. That is really the source of discomfiture for me. I know that I benefited from a decently implemented tracking system and my kids as well. However, I also see the damage to those who are misplaced or placed into the lower classes as low expectations can be truly compounding.



    ITA, too-- surprisingly, I know. But this then becomes a matter of baby and bathwater, to use the idiomatic turn of phrase. Eliminating tracking sounds fine-- but unless you replace it with something that is genuinely better at getting students (preferably MORE students) into positions aligned with their zones of proximal development, it's arguable to state that one might actually have been better to just keep tracking, as flawed as it is.

    The difference seems to be whether one prefers meeting a FEW kids' needs outside of the central third of the distribution, or almost NOBODY's if they fall outside of that central third. Why punish those people whose needs are met through tracking by eliminating it so that everyone gets the same inadequate educational setting?? shocked

    It's the false dichotomy of that which I find so objectionable. And stupid. I find it stupid. frown




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    Originally Posted by Quantum2003
    At the top of the page, near the center, you are invited to click for the Board Rules.

    What's happened is not the application of any rules. All there is is this "we reserve the right to delete any message for any reason whatsoever". But if this is too arbitrary and capricious, the effect on dialog is too chilling.

    What's really happening is that some users(s) is/are trolling/bullying me, and they have recruited a moderator for that prupose.

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    Hello Everyone,

    Do to 22B's in ability to let things go and keep this thread on subject, they have been banned. I ask that everyone else please return to the threads original topic of "More inclusive 'GT' classes in middle/high schools".

    The Davidson Institute did not create moderators to be mean, but instead to provide a safe and friendly environment so that everyone in the gifted education community can seek and provide support.

    Thank you to those of you who have kept everything on topic and continue to support gifted education.

    Lewis

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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    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.


    Except that if *ability* grouping is done correctly, the higher level classes actually should be more representative of the school's overall demographics. The higher level classes will likely skew a little in favor of Asian/white and higher SES, but but not by enough that those classes should be entirely Asian/white and higher SES, unless of course the rest of the school is as well (Space City area outside of Houston for example).

    The problem is that ability grouping is very rarely done correctly. The students are grouped by *achievement* instead, politics plays too large a part (teachers' children, the children of their friends, and the students of higher SES who "look" the part of a "smart" kid get in at higher levels IIRC), and teacher pleasers are chosen over gifted trouble makers. That is why civil rights leaders often object, because the grouping process itself is biased, not that ability grouping is.

    And I say all this as one who vigorously supports ability grouping (when done well), because without it I would possibly have quit school in 1st grade. smile

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    Quote
    What rules??! We can have absolutely no idea what the criteria are so that we can self-censor. Everyone has to second guess what words and topics are allowed. This has a chilling effect on any dialog.

    This is the problem with the USA period; free and open dialog descends into one party shutting the other down by pouting and being offended instead of refuting the others argument with facts, presumably because there is an absence of facts that can do that.

    This actually a large part of why this board exists - were the gifted and gifted education seen for what they are we would already have our kids in schools more optimally aligned with their needs. Instead, because a disproportionate percentage of certain segments of the population, even accounting for SES, do not typically qualify for genuine gifted programs the 'gifted' programs end up getting watered down to be more 'inclusive'.

    Last edited by madeinuk; 11/08/14 05:04 PM.

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    Can anyone recommend a more lightly moderated gifted board that shares any of the good properties of this one? I am saddened to hear that 22B has been banned, and feel it's time to think about where else there is to talk. I am aware of http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/gifted_and_talented - UK-centric and low traffic, but the closest I know of right now. I suppose it's easy enough to start one, too, but I'd rather not take that on unless I must.


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    I'd like to just say for the record that I did not report 22B's posts to the moderator and don't agree with his being banned, although I don't have a problem with the board being moderated to some degree.

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    On the topic at hand, I'd like to say that I walked into a parent gripe session that went something like this...

    "The homework load and content of the GT Math class is unreasonable."

    and

    "My kid is spending 1 -2 hours a night on homework. I know the teacher says quit after 30 minutes, but then my kid would be so far behind."

    and

    "I had to get a tutor for my kid just to keep from sinking."

    ...

    Meanwhile, my kid (and his friend) complain daily about being given such low-level work. It takes him about 10 minutes to finish homework each night. So, clearly the range in the GT class is HUGE!

    Last edited by Mom2Two; 11/09/14 03:01 PM.
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    This happens in my DD's gifted magnet as well--some kids struggle terribly with the math, others with the writing. IQ of 130+ actually still does not sort all that well, surprisingly (at least to me). It points to the important of finer-grain differentiation, which may or may not be achieved through tracking and grouping. I actually think there is no grouping specifically because parents would freak out over it and protest placement in the lower group.

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    I read these threads with great interest and enjoy the range of perspectives offered. A great strength of a forum such as this is diversity of opinion. There are hard questions around gifted education that deserve frank discourse.

    I think it unfortunate that 22B has been banned. I have been put well outside my comfort zone by the various posts of various posters, historically, but I have always left feeling prodded to think more deeply about the issue. That strikes me as the point, ultimately.

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    Originally Posted by CoastalMom
    I read these threads with great interest and enjoy the range of perspectives offered. A great strength of a forum such as this is diversity of opinion. There are hard questions around gifted education that deserve frank discourse.

    I think it unfortunate that 22B has been banned. I have been put well outside my comfort zone by the various posts of various posters, historically, but I have always left feeling prodded to think more deeply about the issue. That strikes me as the point, ultimately.

    I agree. Being able to discuss things we cannot discuss in real life and disagree is what makes these forums valuable. I didn't see anyrhing objectionable but by the time we wake up it is late afternoon over there so I miss a lot. I will miss 22B though.

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    Hello Everyone,

    Yes, it is sad to see 22B be banned. It's not something that we like to do. However, there were a few posts made on this thread that were reported to us as inappropriate, and both posts were from 22B. Everyone on here has the right to report anything if it makes them feel uncomfortable. That is when action is taken. If nothing is reported, then no action will be taken, because we assume that there is nothing offensive going on. The Davidson Institute does not have the time or the resources to monitor every post that is made, so we must rely on all of the users to help us keep this forum in good shape.

    That being said, this topic has gone off track so I will be deleting it. Feel free to start a new one with similar topic of "More inclusive "GT" classes in middle/high schools" if you would like to continue a conversation about it.

    Thank you.

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    Originally Posted by Lewis
    Everyone on here has the right to report anything if it makes them feel uncomfortable. That is when action is taken. If nothing is reported, then no action will be taken, because we assume that there is nothing offensive going on.

    I hope that the mere fact of a post being reported is not what ultimately decides the course of action, but rather the substantive content. We none of us have the right to not be offended.


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    Originally Posted by aquinas
    I hope that the mere fact of a post being reported is not what ultimately decides the course of action, but rather the substantive content. We none of us have the right to not be offended.

    I agree completely.

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    Hello,

    Of course that is not the only deciding factor, however I would say 99% of the posts that are reported do warrant action.

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    Before you delete this post, I hope a few people will see me ask why you decided *banning* rather than deletion and thread locking was appropriate in this case. I believe (though I can't be sure) that I saw everything 22B posted, and nothing was more problematic than many other posts that have not resulted in anyone being banned, in my view. I asked this privately by notifying on the ban message, but got no reply, so I ask again.


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    Originally Posted by ColinsMum
    Before you delete this post, I hope a few people will see me ask why you decided *banning* rather than deletion and thread locking was appropriate in this case. I believe (though I can't be sure) that I saw everything 22B posted, and nothing was more problematic than many other posts that have not resulted in anyone being banned, in my view. I asked this privately by notifying on the ban message, but got no reply, so I ask again.

    I, too, would appreciate a discussion of how the decision was reached. I missed the deleted commentary, and it seems many respectful regular posters were surprised by the chain of events. I think it would be in the interest of fostering a respectful dialogue on the forum to open up a participative, transparent discussion about what transpired.


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    Add me to the list of puzzled regular posters and members of this community. Diversity and, yes, a little-to-a-lot of friction is what makes a forum both active and useful.

    Does this decision reflect a shift in moderation policies at the forum?

    What triggered a "ban" on a user? Because honestly, I didn't see it. Now, possibly I just missed whatever-it-was that prompted that decision, but I honestly don't understand this.





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    I also thought this thread would have been closed long ago.
    22B was being rude IMO to ultramarina. He would not back off.

    again JMO.

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    Since the topic of this thread seems to have moved entirely to the moderation, I will chime in to say that I did report one of 22B's posts, but it was a "please remind 22B to talk about the thread topic, not the moderation policy" request. I was as shocked as anyone by the banning.

    As a suggestion, it would probably be helpful to everyone if there were a place on the boards where we could talk about board moderation policy. Instead, whenever a thread veers into this area, it eventually gets locked and deleted.

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    I almost never report posts, and I did not in this case. I even had a post removed from this conversation (in response to another which was also removed while I was already crafting a response), and I don't have a problem with that.

    Reading through 22B's posts in this conversation, it seemed like a whole lot of arguing for the sake of arguing (what was all that about the nonexistence of gifted magnets, anyway?), and then he overreacted to moderation, which I would expect is the primary reason for the ban. I'd say you can just about count on getting banned anytime you make too much of moderator actions on a moderated forum. To make a mess of a metaphor, First Amendment arguments don't hold a lot of water in someone else's sandbox.

    Unmoderated forums tend to descend to the lowest common denominator, and we're a population with a strong current of emotional overexcitability, so the choice is between some questionable moderation choices, or outright flame war. I choose the former.

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    Yes, locking seemed appropriate to me, as well.

    I say that as someone who is an admin at a similar community.

    I'm deeply sympathetic of the nature of moderation in a place like this. Truly. It's like herding cats at the best of times.

    Deletion of the thread--

    not really okay, in my opinion. This punishes contributing members who have made well-considered and thoughtful posts which are on-topic and insightful.

    Do that too often and the most insightful and stimulating members of your forum will quit attempting to make those kinds of posts at all.

    JME, that. Light moderation is a thing at places like this for a good reason. Yes, it's a little rough and tumble sometimes-- but-- tamping down ALL incivility often comes at a pretty steep cost, too.



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    OK, I can tell everyone is confused and possibly upset. So here is what happened and this is the last time I will post about this. Then I will leave this thread open for the rest of the day so everyone can read it and then it's gone, because this thread is no longer about it's original subject, which I think everyone can agree upon.

    I received a complaint notification that 22B was posting in appropriate subject matter for the forum. 22B was arguing that magnet schools are solely based on race. While this subject matter may not be offensive, it was the tone in which the post had taken that offended someone, and we agreed, after reviewing the post, that the argument could have been handled better. The offensive part of the post was deleted. I posted a reminder to keep things friendly.

    Only a few minutes later, 22B posted a very similar argument using "code" for racist comments. This post was also reported as very offensive. Once again, after reviewing the post, it was determined that the tone of the argument had indeed become more offensive. That post was deleted, another reminder post was made and 22B was messaged privately regarding the matter.

    Following that, 22B posted several things complaining about his posts getting deleted. They openly admitted that they had never read the rules. After reading the rules, another post was made arguing that the rules were too vague and that moderators were hired for the soul purpose of "bullying and trolling" users such as themselves. That was the comment that resulted in the banning.

    Long story short, it was not so much the content that resulted in 22B being banned, but rather the way in which they handled the situation.

    I would like to now once again remind everyone that monitoring this forum is no ones primary duty, and so we rely on the users to keep it functional and appropriate. When something is reported, that is when we review something and most of the time take action.

    I now request, that we leave this thread and this subject, and either A: Cease to continue posting on the this thread. or B: Continue the original subject.

    Thank you.

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    Originally Posted by Dude
    I almost never report posts, and I did not in this case. I even had a post removed from this conversation (in response to another which was also removed while I was already crafting a response), and I don't have a problem with that.

    Reading through 22B's posts in this conversation, it seemed like a whole lot of arguing for the sake of arguing (what was all that about the nonexistence of gifted magnets, anyway?), and then he overreacted to moderation, which I would expect is the primary reason for the ban. I'd say you can just about count on getting banned anytime you make too much of moderator actions on a moderated forum. To make a mess of a metaphor, First Amendment arguments don't hold a lot of water in someone else's sandbox.

    Unmoderated forums tend to descend to the lowest common denominator, and we're a population with a strong current of emotional overexcitability, so the choice is between some questionable moderation choices, or outright flame war. I choose the former.
    yes this

    I didn't report 22B - actually this is my first post in this thread - but I have been reading it daily and was quite surprised by the tangents and level of feeling in some of the posts, I was wondering how long it would take for a moderator to get involved

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    Originally Posted by Lewis
    Only a few minutes later, 22B posted a very similar argument using "code" for racist comments. This post was also reported as very offensive. Once again, after reviewing the post, it was determined that the tone of the argument had indeed become more offensive. That post was deleted, another reminder post was made and 22B was messaged privately regarding the matter.

    Following that, 22B posted several things complaining about his posts getting deleted. They openly admitted that they had never read the rules. After reading the rules, another post was made arguing that the rules were too vague and that moderators were hired for the soul purpose of "bullying and trolling" users such as themselves. That was the comment that resulted in the banning.

    Respectfully, you opened a can of worms and people are trying to deal with it. Shutting down the discussion won't help.

    I now vaguely remember 22B's original post. It was provocative but not racist. Saying, "someone set up a school to meet their own quotas" isn't racist. Racist would be making judgments about people based solely on race. 22B didn't do that.

    His second post was specifically about a school in his district, and he very clearly noted his opinion that admissions decisions were being made for political reasons, to the detriment of students. Again, this is not racist. Saying that races exist or that decisions about race are made for political reasons is NOT racist.

    IMO, censoring a member because s/he made a statement that makes others uncomfortable is a suboptimal approach and is detrimental to the community as a whole.

    Last edited by Val; 11/10/14 12:17 PM.
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