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    #20549 07/18/08 04:35 PM
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    RPM9 Offline OP
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    How would y'all feel if your school grouped the 24 highest scoring students in one class then the next highest 24 in another class and so on ... down to the lowest scoring kids? 3rd-6th grade.

    Just curious. Our school is doing this. I'm looking forward to seeing how it will go for high scoring DS going into 5th grade this fall.

    RPM9 #20553 07/18/08 05:37 PM
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    Grouped by achievement test scores, then, right?

    Since not all GT kids are high achievers, this isn't going to be my personally preferred method. And it sort of depends on what they do with the kids once they have them grouped. If they all take the same curriculum at the same speed, it makes virtually no difference. If they use these tracks to give the more capable kids a greater challenge and give the kids who need more help the time and attention they need, then it could be a step in the right direction, at least. But I'm wary.

    If I'm reading Karen Rogers' original metastudy correctly, "Enriched classes ability grouped" gives a GT child .33 of a year gain over a GT child not ability grouped. (In other words, the child in this situation makes and additional .33 of a year's progress, which is a positive and statistically relevant correlation.) "Separate classes for GT" also gains .33.

    I thought she compared ability vs. achievement grouping, and my memory (faulty!) held that abiilty grouping was better than achievement grouping. But I don't see achievement grouping in the original report. Can anyone help? Here's the link I'm using: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/nrcgt/reports/rbdm9102/rbdm9102.pdf (The table is on page 12 of the .pdf file.)

    BTW, I don't have online access to Rogers' updated numbers from 1990/1-now that have just been released, but we got a preview at the DYS Summit, and my notes (also faulty, though less so than my memory) says that the 1990/1-now metastudy shows that clustering kids by IQ gained .59, whereas clustering by performance gained .44.

    So I guess I'd say that tracking makes me nervous--I'd prefer more flexible grouping with the ability to shuffle individuals around as needed to ensure that underperforming GT kids don't get missed and the hard workers who aren't as GT don't wind up killing themselves to keep up. I'd probably also prefer *ability* grouping instead of achievement grouping. I'd also want to know what they plan to do with the kids once they're tracked.

    But with that said, I think there are worse things than trying to ensure a peer group for kids. I just hope this doesn't fall flat and become evidence for why grouping can't work. I'm not sure this attempt is a fair trial.

    I'm surprised any school is doing this. Tracking went out of vogue some 20-30 years ago and gets a terrible rap now. The tracking bashing has even slopped over onto the much more preferable and useful grouping of kids. I'm surprised.

    Oh, and I'd also want to know how they're handling LDs. 2E kids could get really hosed in this sort of scenario.


    Kriston
    RPM9 #20555 07/18/08 05:52 PM
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    Personally, I think it would be wonderful for my DS8. My PS does not do tracking in the elementary, although they do start to offer advanced classes in 7th grade. I would hope that the teacher could move the higher class through the easier material at a greater speed, thus spending time going into the material at greater depth. It would be great to challenge the kids who were more advanced. Our principle has agreed to unofficially cluster several of the academically gifted boys in DS8's class, in order to give him some peers. But I got the impression that she was doing so very quietly.

    However, the politics of such a plan seem horrific. All of the parents would demand that their little prince or princess should be in the top class. And then you begin to discuss how they measure such giftedness, and if it has any socioeconomic bias to it. (We live in a community that does not have a whole lot of kids who are learning english as a second language, and other such problems.) And the kids who are in the "dumb" class would feel awful. So, again, personally it would be great... but I understand why some school administrators would cringe at the thought.

    On a personal note, I really did not like school growing up. I was terribly bored. My teacher in sixth realized that I understood everything in the math textbook and allowed me work all the way up to geometry completely on my own. (Of course, I invented my own rules for geometry, which worked about 90% of the time and failed spectacularly the other 10%. blush I therefore was rather confused when I reached real geometry. The perils of allowing a child to teach themselves!) But I digress... I moved at the beginning of 7th grade to a school which had tracking for gifted kids. From 7th grade on, I was completely grouped for all subjects with other gifted kids. It was heaven, and for the first time, I fell in love with school.

    Tough call.. I can see both sides of the issue. A clever school administrator should invent a title for each of the sections... gifted kids, kids who excel in art or drama, kids who excel in spitballs... grin


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
    Dottie #20557 07/18/08 06:04 PM
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    Originally Posted by Dottie
    FWIW, I have to somewhat disagree with this statement..."If they all take the same curriculum at the same speed, it makes virtually no difference."

    To some extent that's true, but just by grouping bright kids, there are benefits, even if nothing else is changed. They truly feed of each other, and will be more inspired if they are not the "only one".


    Well, that's why I have the "virtually" in there. If the teacher won't let the kids feed off one another in order to keep the class on track with a rigid curriculum, then the benefits of the peer group could/would be undermined to the point of virtually not mattering.

    The freer the teacher could be with the curriculum, the greater the benefits, but I was stressing the worst-case scenario. And I could envision a rigid case that minimized the positive effects of the peer group down to "virtually" nothing.


    Kriston
    ebeth #20559 07/18/08 06:55 PM
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    Good points. I remember reading that fact on ability grouping in Karen Roger's book. But alas, I returned the book to the library. I would also be concerned in a school setting about what happens to the high ability kids if they make such gains each year. Can the next year's teacher pick up where they left off, and allow the kids to continue their increases? From what I've seen of my son's school, they would not be too happy with the thought that, several years down the road, one class might be a grade level or so above the other classes. That would never fly in my DS's school. So I agree that they would probably end up inspiring each other (intellectually and socially) without the dramatic gains of 0.33 of a year. But just having a group of peers in a class sounds heavenly to me for my son.

    I wonder if they have different groupings for math and for LA?

    Dottie: The only problem that I have with clustering is that the cluster of 5 gifted kids in a normal classroom still has to sit through all of the repeated lectures and drills that the other kids need to master a subject. Since those 5 kids are in the minority, they can not dictate the speed of the class. Sure, they can go and sit in the hallway occasionally with harder problems and the teacher can claim that they are differentiating the material... but it seems like, in DS8's case, he is following the class's speed in over 90% of the time, with at best only 10% differentiated material. (maybe not even that high!) 10% (or less) not very challenging. In the case of tracking, you don't have this issue.

    Kriston: Yeah... Thanks for pointing out that my tracking experience was over 30 years ago!! Sheshh!! cry


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
    ebeth #20560 07/18/08 07:07 PM
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    Originally Posted by ebeth
    Yeah... Thanks for pointing out that my tracking experience was over 30 years ago!! Sheshh!! cry


    LOL! I feel for you, ebeth! laugh

    I think you make a good point about gains being lost each year. Any advancement that is not formally recognized by the system is in danger of being lost the next year. If the system formally recognizes that the kids in the fastest track are covering more material and gives them credit for it, then it is a workable system in that regard. If not, then the kids are effectively held back the next year--not merely "not advanced again," but *held back* to cover material a second year in a row. That's a serious problem.

    It's the same problem I have with informal differentiation, BTW.

    I assumed the tracking was by whole class, not by subject, since it's elementary school. However, that was an assumption. I'd be interested to know if I'm in error there...


    Kriston
    ebeth #20561 07/18/08 07:13 PM
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    And, from a teacher's point of view (although I'm not one), who would take the "lower ability" kids if teachers' bonuses and raises are tied to student achievement (NCLB testing)?

    squirt #20562 07/18/08 07:46 PM
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    For the record, tracking was done in the 70's and the main reason it was considered evil was because a kid was assigned a track and it never changed. So if you had a bad day and ended up in the low track, but were really smart, too bad, so sad.
    In true ability grouping the kids are supposed to be periodically assessed(at least once per year) and move groups accordingly.
    And by the way, all schools age track. The kids are assigned a grade track when they enter K according to their age. No Child can be Left Behind and No Child may Leap Beyond.

    Thanks go out to whoever first posted No child leaps beyond. My faulty memory cannot recall who the credit goes to.

    incogneato #20563 07/18/08 07:49 PM
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    True about the age tracking, 'Neato. Good point. That's just publicly accepted tracking.

    I like how you think! smile


    Kriston
    Kriston #20564 07/18/08 07:53 PM
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    Well actually, I'm pretty sure I picked that up from another post around here too. I'm really not all that original!

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