June 10, 2013

"Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom."

The practice "fell out of favor in the late 1980s and the 1990s as critics charged that they perpetuated inequality by trapping poor and minority students in low-level groups" but...
Now ability grouping has re-emerged in classrooms all over the country — a trend that has surprised education experts who believed the outcry had all but ended its use....

Teachers and principals who use grouping say that the practice has become indispensable, helping them cope with widely varying levels of ability and achievement....
Interesting way around criticisms, isn't it? Stop what you're doing and then gradually go back to it.

99 comments:

Nonapod said...

So having to teach down to the lowest common denominator does more harm to the rest of the students than it benefits the dimbulbs?

campy said...

Education bureaucrats have to change everything around every few years to justify their existence.

MadisonMan said...

My child is brilliant. Of course he belongs in the accelerated group!

bpm4532 said...

Eventually reality intrudes on progressive fantasies.

bpm4532 said...

Now on to college admissions...

traditionalguy said...

I like intelligent people. Even in sports, they do the right things faster and understand the game.

Can we rehabilitate the term Retarded? Or if not, maybe use cognitively handicapped.

SteveR said...

The key is to do it and not call it that.

Rabel said...

Could we do that in the comments here? I can give you a few names.

Mary Martha said...

What will the teachers do without their free tutors in the class to teach the slower kids?

Ray said...

In the meantime, what about the students harmed by this interim period of mainstreaming? My grandson, who has a severe learning disability, was lost in his classes whenever they tried to mainstream him. He only seamed to have behavioral problems in these classes. A friend of our decided to homeschool because her gifted son was board waiting for the rest of the kids to understand the work. In both cases, the school system let them down. All in the name of “fairness”

Methadras said...

So merit actually has a place. Leftists abilities to suspend realities notwithstanding.

Lyssa said...

I was in school from 1985-1998, and grouping by abilities was certainly the norm in my area.

The few classes where it wasn't done were near torturous. Though they were a great reminder of how dumb the "average" student really was.

Michael K said...

"Or if not, maybe use cognitively handicapped."

My daughter, when she was 16, met a girl she thought might be retarded and asked me if she was "special." her eyebrows indicated the context.

I learned a new euphemism.

LarsPorsena said...

I went through high school 'grouped'.
Unfortunately, I was the dumbest of the smartest and struggled to keep up all 4 years. D-- average. Got in college because of high ACT's and college boards. College was a joke after my high school experience.

Larry J said...

University education departments should abolish their "publish or perish" rules for obtaining tenure. Seriously, how many stupid education fads can be traced to some professor-wannabe writing seriously stupid stuff that sounds good in theory but doesn't work in practice?

Back in the ancient days when I was in elementary school, we not only had "the new math", we had the pod concept. Instead of having individual classrooms with walls and doors, teachers and students were clusted into workgroups with no walls between us. The (fully predictable) noise levels were very distracting. When the students were surveyed, the biggest request was for walls and doors.

Phonics works better for most students who're learning to read but you can't publish yet another paper "Phonics Works", so some idiot came up with whole language despite any evidence that it would help kids. There are countless other examples.

Glenn Reynolds is right - it's lookig like parental malpractice to put kids into public schools.

Achilles said...

Putting your kids into the public education system is child abuse. If my kids don't get kicked out for any number of reasons then I will consider my parenting a failure. They will be there to disagree and sharpen their critical thinking and social skills only. Learning will be done at home.

madAsHell said...

This won't last long. It will be proclaimed as the new segregation, and quickly abandoned.

Lyssa said...

Regarding whether it traps kids -

My family moved out of state between my kindergarten and first grade years. The new school had a system where it tracked the kids based on how they performed in kindergarten - since I didn't go to kindergarten there, the policy was to put me in the lowest tracking level (yes, that was a dumb policy).

Anyhow, I obviously did not belong there, but by the time they figured it out, they decided it was too late to move me. (I know they discussed skipping a grade some, even.) Regardless, I was moved to the highest level classes from there on, and did fine going forward. Not trapped.

Peter said...

"Christine C. ... has proposed expandingthe number of gifted classes while broadening the criteria for admission in hopes of increasing diversity."

And ... The Empire Strikes Back!

(Because it's Educrat 101 that if you can't actually defeat a reform, often it can be modified into meaninglessness.)

Kevin said...

Well this practice WAS making a comeback, but then there was a NYTimes article.

Michael Haz said...

Grouping by ability is not legal in Wisconsin. What is legal is to "mainstream" students who have obvious cognitive and physical impairments. Mainstreaming was put into practice by lawmakers and bureaucrats who were pressured by parents who wanted to feel that their impaired students were actually able to attend classes with "normal" kids.

As a result of this foolishness (at least in the district where my wife teaches), kids who have special needs are allowed to enroll in any class, including advanced placement classes, and classes like drama where their inability to memorize lines and engage in phycal acting is not considered a detriment.

One unintended result is that very bright kids grow bored and dissatisfied with the progress of learning and act out in the classroom.

I remember way back when I was in teh sixth grade how we all took a battery of tests during the school year and were then grouped by ability. the first week in the "grouped" class was a revelation to me - I fell in love with going to school because it was fun and everyone in the class was on teh same page, literally and figuratively.

Returning to classes grouped by ability would be a good thing for students. Which is why it may never happen.

DADvocate said...

In my daughter's, a H.S. senior to be, early years, the classrooms weren't divided by ability, but she and the other smart kids spent about 2 hours a day in special classes for advanced students. Starting about the 4th grade the classes were defacto divided according to ability. It only makes sense. Kids reading at an 11-12 grade or college level in the 5th-6th grade don't need to be paired with kids still struggling to read at all.

Brennan said...

This is a move to compete with the loss of strong students to home schooling and private schools. This practice at those schools is what makes them so attractive to parents.

tim in vermont said...

I think of people who believe that everybody is equal, and that the sexes are equal, and that life could be fair if we just let it as a kind of Creationist. They seem to believe that while they abhor the term creationist, that humans were somehow evolved to their standards of ethics as if guided by some higher power.

bagoh20 said...

" ... a trend that has surprised education experts."

Maybe "experts" isn't the right word.

ricpic said...

It's okay, the very people who wouldn't dare say or even think anything ugly are acting in accord with the natural order while all the time making the proper deferential gestures to the great bogus god EQUALITY.

LuAnn Zieman said...

This is the way the 8th grade classes were run in the WI school when I was teaching junior high English in the late 60s-80s. I agree that “tracking,” as it was called then, worked well. Students who already understood the basics could go on to higher skills more quickly and do more independent things. The lower level classes were able to review and redo and then go on. And, they felt they had accomplished more when everyone was at approximately the same level and moving up. I had all of my classes do research papers and creative writing, but the expectations were not the same for each. If the “poor” students, as critics call them, are challenged, and not faced with other higher level students in their group, who are bored, they respond much better and work harder. At least that was my experience. In reading the article, I see that other teachers feel the same. The only "mainstreamed" students I had were the emotionally disturbed, which is probably no longer the designation used. My ED students were bright and creative, but introverted; obviously their problems had no correlation to their intelligence.

Dave said...

First grade - 1962. During reading time we were grouped into Walkers, Trotters and Runners depending upon demonstrated reading ability. Sweet old Mrs. Ely would be hauled before the Star Chamber today for her extreme insensitivity. Interestingly enough, everyone in that class learned to read. It was only as we were introduced to New Math over the next couple of years that we "learned" that getting the right answer wasn't the point - only how you got there was important.

garage mahal said...

So merit actually has a place.

Everywhere you go you'll always be the dunce baby in the corner with a bird crapping on your head.

gerry said...

University education departments should abolish their "publish or perish" rules for obtaining tenure. Seriously, how many stupid education fads can be traced to some professor-wannabe writing seriously stupid stuff that sounds good in theory but doesn't work in practice?

Aren't most new ideas in education pretty stupid-sounding even in theory to begin with?

Truth be told, most D.Ed. personages want to be called "Doctor" so that they may be, hopefully, mistaken as somebody with actually useful and worthwhile knowledge. For example, Joe Biden's wife, Jill Biden, has a doctorate in "educational leadership", and wishes to be addressed as Dr. Biden.

Larry J said...

bagoh20 said...
" ... a trend that has surprised education experts."

Maybe "experts" isn't the right word.


Expert (ex-spurt): An "ex" is a has-been and a spurt is a drip under pressure.

gerry said...

Everywhere you go you'll always be the dunce baby in the corner with a bird crapping on your head.

Are you looking in a mirror again? You know the shrink said you should not be allowed anywhere near anything made of glass.

MadisonMan said...

Mainstreaming was put into practice by lawmakers and bureaucrats who were pressured by parents who wanted to feel that their impaired students were actually able to attend classes with "normal" kids.

Now lawmakers are fiddling with schools again, throwing away money to vouchers, all in the name of Doing Something!

Do nothing is a great maxim. Tinker around the edges. I find that works more effectively than wholesale changes.

I have plenty of modest suggestions, and right at the top would be track people.

MadisonMan said...

Oh, and speaking as Dr. MadisonMan, let me just say that people like Jill Biden just creep me out.

That fact that you insist on being called Dr. says a million things about you, and none of them are good.

mrs whatsit said...

The trend away from ability grouping was directly tied to the fad for "self-esteem" -- both teams win every soccer game, everybody gets promoted, nobody's ever in the dumb group. If the schools are moving back now, maybe this is a hint that they're finally beginning to notice that the self-esteem thing didn't work out? (A faint hope, I know.)

I never could figure out why the schools thought that kids mixed together in a classroom wouldn't immediately notice who was finishing the assignments ahead of everyone else and who was holding up the whole group because he or she just couldn't get the concepts everyone else had learned, thus suffering the same consequences to that all-important self-esteem as they would if grouped together by ability.

Kids know and see things, just as adults do. They are no dumber than adults and possibly quite a bit smarter, as many of them have yet to succumb to the adult tendency to refuse to see what we don't want to see. My kids used to rage over the clueless patronization of being told by their soccer coaches that their team hadn't won -- or hadn't lost -- a soccer game when they were perfectly capable of counting up each team's goals for themselves. That business teaches them: 1) grownups are real dopes; 2) grownups think kids are too weak and frail to handle any adversity whatsover. Where's the self-esteem in that?

Renee said...

No way to move up/catch up , once you have been labeled average in 5th grade and placed in non accelerated classes.

Very few honor students were gifted, most were just home school in addition to school.

Joan said...

I'll bet anything that one reason that tracking fell out of favor was because many teachers resented having to teach the lower-tracked classes.

OTOH, as a teacher with many main-streamed students (some LD, some ED, some ELL)*, trying to differentiate instruction and keep all the students engaged is a near impossibility. I recently had a 'discussion' with a principal in my district who argued that it is possible to have 100% engagement of 100% of students, 100% of in-class time. He's nuts.

I graduated high school in 1981, and I was very grateful for all the classes I had that were tracked. I could tell which ones weren't, and they were excruciating.

* LD = learning disabled, ED = emotionally disabled, ELL = English language learners.

garage mahal said...

Now lawmakers are fiddling with schools again, throwing away money to vouchers, all in the name of Doing Something!

I seriously doubt any voucher advocates in the legislature really believe they are doing anything useful. Other than keeping their end of the bribe to donors.

Renee said...

I would group kids based on parents educational level, I felt growing up teachers assumed parents had the ability to do algebra and help them in the evening.

Bob_R said...

The term "retarded" probably won't be rehabilitated since it is used almost exclusively as a pejorative. My son is mentally (and physically) disabled (just got a bronze in bowling in the Special Olympics). I find that most people who use the term "retarded" in a non-clinical way seem to have an IQ closer to his than to mine.

Joan said...

Oh, and don't forget that "mainstreaming" saves *a lot* of money, because every main-streamed kid is not in a resource room, staffed by people who are specifically trained to work with students with disabilities. My school, as broke as it is, still has a full-time speech therapist and a full-time occupational therapist, in addition to the SpEd director and her aide. All of them are very, very busy, and even so, the students aren't getting the help they need.

Freeman Hunt said...

It didn't work to try making elementary classes that included both students reading on a high school level and those needing remedial instruction or classes that included both students ready for algebra and geometry and those still mastering place value?

Sheesh.

I feel for teachers who had to try and make that work. How demoralizing.

Edgehopper said...

Re: Mainstreaming -- My sister is in her first semester at U. Rochester's M.Ed. program (yes, a waste of time, but Lehigh had no undergrad education program and you need some education degree to teach elementary school, even in the private schools). She emailed the other day to complain about her education and disabilities class where the professor was aggressively pushing a "separate classes for disabled kids is the same as racial segregation" doctrine. My sister, fortunately, correctly saw this as both insane and fairly racist. It gives me hope that even though she voted for Obama over gay rights issues, she'll come to her senses when she grows up. But I'm sure she's unusually independent within her class.

Oso Negro said...

"Moron" was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard[3] from the Ancient Greek word μωρός (moros), which meant "dull" (as opposed to oxy, which meant "sharp"), and used to describe a person with a mental age in adulthood of between 8 and 12 on the Binet scale. It was once applied to people with an IQ of 51–70, being superior in one degree to "imbecile" (IQ of 26–50) and superior in two degrees to "idiot" (IQ of 0–25). The word moron, along with others including, "idiotic", "imbecilic", "stupid", and "feeble-minded", was formerly considered a valid descriptor in the psychological community, but it is now deprecated in use by psychologists.

Henry said...

Could the practice have fallen out of favor because it failed to work?

This is an empirical question.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

MadisonMan said...

I have plenty of modest suggestions, and right at the top would be track people.

Is that anything like a modest proposal to track people? Because I think the NSA already has that covered.

elkh1 said...

Meanwhile, how many kids lost their precious years learning nothing while the grown ups carried out their no grouping experiments?

Gahrie said...

Tracking produced unpleasant demographic outcomes, so rather than address the demographic problems, it was easier to eliminate tracking.

For the last twenty years, the eduspeak buzzword has been differentation. This means we're going to give you a 5 classes of 35 students with widely varying abilities, and expect you to provide individualized attention and education plans for each of them.

Those masterminds in the federal Department of Education are finally starting to figure out that that is impossible. However they can't admit they were wrong, so "tracking" is still banned, but "ability grouping" is now allowed.

Peter said...

Many years ago (in a galaxy all too near) children who were retarded were given Special workbooks.

They were Special not only because the work within was at an appropriate level for their abilities, but also because the grade number on the cover was set to match ... their age instead of their abilities.

This turned out badly, however, as a day inevitably came when the kids learned that even though their workbook might say "8th Grade" on it, they were, in fact, doing 2nd grade work. And they were not pleased to learn this.

So, although we could track students (again) and refer to the lowest-ability class as "The Best," the word "Best" would invariably aquire the same patina that now sticks to the word "Special." And no doubt there would also be angst when those in "The Best" class inevitably learn that it's really ... not.

Of course, the real problem isn't that students have different abilities, it's that these abilities will almost always correlate to some extent with race, sex, ethnicity, etc. But how could they not? Is it not utopian to expect that every sort of ability will find precisely proportional representation everywhere?

So, the solution: all students in school shall wear full burqas! For only then will they be free to be different.

edutcher said...

The kids who can't keep up with the bright ones will be left behind their entire lives.

Which may have been the plan - keep those low info voters coming.

The Blonde's eldest great nephew is exceedingly bright (takes after his mother) and his favorite Christmas gift last year was his Kindle - on which he's downloaded dozens of books.

How many of the slower kids would feel that way?

Gahrie said...

Now lawmakers are fiddling with schools again, throwing away money to vouchers, all in the name of Doing Something!

1) Vouchers are not "thrown away money". They are a means of providing parents with some choice and influence over their child's education.

2) In most jurisdictions, the amount of money awarded in the voucher is significantly less than the amount of money the school district receives to pay for that child's education, thus leaving more resources for those students who remain.

3) What I don't understand is why everyone is so hysterical over the state of education in the United States. Graduation rates are near historical highs. Our test scores are fine once you account for economic and ethnic differences. Everyone likes to point out Finland's scores, without mentioning how much easier the Finnish language is to speak and write than English.

Gahrie said...

This turned out badly, however, as a day inevitably came when the kids learned that even though their workbook might say "8th Grade" on it, they were, in fact, doing 2nd grade work. And they were not pleased to learn this.

The only ones being fooled are parents and education officials. The kids all know who the dummies and the brains are.

elkh1 said...

LuAnn Zieman said...
"they felt they had accomplished more when everyone was at approximately the same level and moving up... the “poor” students respond much better and work harder."

Similar to this:
"students who attend schools where their entering academic credentials put them in the middle or the top of the class are more likely to persevere and ultimately succeed than “otherwise identical students” attending a more elite school where their credentials put them in the bottom of the class.

http://pjmedia.com/blog/real-damage-from-racial-preferences/

How many kids' lives are negatively impacted by progressives' fantasy of doing away with reality?

Howard said...

Only a moron would give a kid a kindle.

SOJO said...

I was mostly grouped. Senior year there were a few electives that weren't. I hadn't been in a class with some of these folks since 6th grade. Didn't learn one thing in either class even though I was quite excited about Econ.

It was a wake up call. Sure, some of it is the students, but the teachers stop trying as well. When that happens, it's nearly impossible. You'd be better off with self-paced learning.

Balfegor said...

I don't think students should be grouped by age. As a student moves through elementary, middle, and high school, there's certain knowledge and skills he's supposed to acquire. And once he's acquired one step, he should be free to move on to the next. I didn't have tracking as such, but I skipped two grades and I think I was all the better for it -- I had practically run out of classes in high school (I had filled out my schedule in my last year with "independent study" courses to maintain full-time status while I took courses at the local colleges), and sticking around longer would have been a complete waste of time.

That said, though, it's a question of whether one views education as primarily about the learning or primarily about socialisation. When I skipped grades in elementary school, there was a science teacher who forever after was rooting for me to fail, because she genuinely believed that it was better for children to be socialised into their narrow age group, and was afraid that if it went all right for me, all the Asian parents would be clamouring for their children to be accelerated.

David said...

A lot depends on what the ability disparity is, it seems to me. If the disparity is too great, it overtaxes the teachers, bogs down the students of highest ability and discourages those of the lowest. With a narrower disparity, it probably helps both groups.

Then there's the question of how accurate the ability measurement actually is.

Responsibility's a bitch. You have to make all these decisions!

Methadras said...

garage mahal said...

So merit actually has a place.

Everywhere you go you'll always be the dunce baby in the corner with a bird crapping on your head.


Another leftist suspending realities. Live in your delusions fat boy. Whatever it takes to make you sleep better at night. Believe the lies you need to believe.

Methadras said...

garage mahal said...

I seriously doubt any voucher advocates in the legislature really believe they are doing anything useful. Other than keeping their end of the bribe to donors.


Oh, that's a barrel of sea monkey laughs coming from you. The lover of unionistas everywhere. Oh, you know those little long standing Marxist organizations that have made deals with fellow leftists in political office without nary a taxpayer representative at the table. Oh wait, there was a taxpayer representative at the table? He or she just happens to be a Democrat and favors the money of tax payers to give to those long standing little Marxist organizations with every increasing and luxurious long term contracts. Yeah, I can see how the bribe to the donors works out.

You become funnier as this goes along. Tell me, are you looking to take over Inga's position as the court jester?

Methadras said...

Bob_R said...

The term "retarded" probably won't be rehabilitated since it is used almost exclusively as a pejorative. My son is mentally (and physically) disabled (just got a bronze in bowling in the Special Olympics). I find that most people who use the term "retarded" in a non-clinical way seem to have an IQ closer to his than to mine.


No, retarded will never see the light of day again in the halls of academe and education. He is now autistic and somewhere on the spectrum. Either way, may you be blessed a thousand fold.

David said...

Renee said...
"No way to move up/catch up , once you have been labeled average in 5th grade and placed in non accelerated classes.

Very few honor students were gifted, most were just home school in addition to school."

It's called "parenting," Renee. You spend significant time with your kids challenging them and assisting them in meeting the challenge. I drove my kids half nuts with socratic badgering and strong editing of their written work. But they are better thinkers and better writers as a result.

Methadras said...

Oso Negro said...

"Moron" was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard[3] from the Ancient Greek word μωρός (moros), which meant "dull" (as opposed to oxy, which meant "sharp"), and used to describe a person with a mental age in adulthood of between 8 and 12 on the Binet scale. It was once applied to people with an IQ of 51–70, being superior in one degree to "imbecile" (IQ of 26–50) and superior in two degrees to "idiot" (IQ of 0–25). The word moron, along with others including, "idiotic", "imbecilic", "stupid", and "feeble-minded", was formerly considered a valid descriptor in the psychological community, but it is now deprecated in use by psychologists.


Thanks, I always wondered what the etymology of Garage McBitch Tits was.

Hagar said...

I do not think the public schools ought to be in the business of differentiating between people.

They should teach down the middle, and the slower kids would have to work harder, while the quicker ones coast, but that is life.

As for languages, for me English is easy, while I detest German; for my uncle, it was the other way around. It depends on how your brain is wired, and we are all different.

Also, I do not trust the public schools' ability, or even motives, in classifying people. I strongly suspect that if I had been born here later and gone to school here, they would have filled me to the gills with Ritalin in order to try to make me behave in accordance with their manuals.

edutcher said...

Howard said...

Only a moron would give a kid a kindle.

No, only a moron would say that.

Very bright 9 year old, would rather read or do math than anything else. Wants to be a marine biologist.

Kindle's a great gift.

So far ahead of his class, they're giving him extra work (including teaching him penmanship) just to keep him busy.

MadisonMan said...

They are a means of providing parents with some choice and influence over their child's education.

That's one way to spin it. But Charter Schools in Wisconsin are not monitored. Seems like a recipe for fraud to me.

Methadras said...

edutcher said...

Howard said...

Only a moron would give a kid a kindle.

No, only a moron would say that.

Very bright 9 year old, would rather read or do math than anything else. Wants to be a marine biologist.

Kindle's a great gift.

So far ahead of his class, they're giving him extra work (including teaching him penmanship) just to keep him busy.


Awesome. I loved penmanship. Do they still call it that or has it been neutered to penpersonship?

Renee said...

@David, Then save us the tax dollars and home school. Teachers expect parents to home school in 'accelerated' classes. If your parents couldn't help you, you were f*cked in the affluent suburbs.

Difference between 'badgering' and kids who are naturally smart.

edutcher said...

Methadras said...

Awesome. I loved penmanship. Do they still call it that or has it been neutered to penpersonship?

Apparently penmanship still survives.

Since they don't teach it much anyway (what to kids do when they have to leave a note?), I guess the name doesn't matter.

pst314 said...

Michael Haz "Grouping by ability is not legal in Wisconsin."

Can you provide a link, please?

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't think students should be grouped by age. As a student moves through elementary, middle, and high school, there's certain knowledge and skills he's supposed to acquire. And once he's acquired one step, he should be free to move on to the next. I didn't have tracking as such, but I skipped two grades and I think I was all the better for it -- I had practically run out of classes in high school (I had filled out my schedule in my last year with "independent study" courses to maintain full-time status while I took courses at the local colleges), and sticking around longer would have been a complete waste of time.

This, this, this. I probably would have liked school if it had been like this. The school asked my parents if I could be skipped two grades, and my parents said no because they were afraid that it would not work out socially. That was, I think, a huge mistake. (But they couldn't have known that at the time.)

If schools put all kids on their own levels in each subject, the classes would be easier to teach, and there would be no expectation that everyone in a particular class would be the same age, so fewer social problems from being ahead or behind.

Hyphenated American said...

"I seriously doubt any voucher advocates in the legislature really believe they are doing anything useful."

I think it's quite clear that very few opponents of vouchers really believe that vouchers are bad for education. Vouchers will make government unions weaker, and liberalism will be outvoted - which is why the vouchers have such a difficult time getting acceptance, even though they would result in better and cheaper education.

Hyphenated American said...

"I do not think the public schools ought to be in the business of differentiating between people.

They should teach down the middle, and the slower kids would have to work harder, while the quicker ones coast, but that is life."

The purpose of public schools is to provide best possible education to highest number of people at lowest possible cost. Differentiation and specialization are greatest human discoveries, anyone who is against them pretty much lives in the Stone age. And this is life - smarter people have to deal with millions of dumb idiots who hate science. This is why our education is so crappy.

elkh1 said...

Balfegor said..."if it went all right for me, all the Asian parents would be clamouring for their children to be accelerated."

May be American students are "decelerated" by the educators' faddish experiments of their newest education theories?

Fact is when American students are good, they are really really good, when they are bad, they are horrid.

elkh1 said...

Hyphenated American said...
"The purpose of public schools is to provide best possible education to highest number of people at lowest possible cost."

Henry Ford's mass-production assembly line education system to produce undifferentiated laborers to meet employers' demands. If the mass produced products are no good, we can import better ones from abroad, hence work visas, and skill immigrants.

elkh1 said...

traditionalguy said...
"Can we rehabilitate the term Retarded? Or if not, maybe use cognitively handicapped."

You sound like a "cognitively challenged" person.

Michael Haz said...

@pst314 - You can't spend three minutes doing your own research?

Here.

Hyphenated American said...

"Henry Ford's mass-production assembly line education system to produce undifferentiated laborers to meet employers' demands. If the mass produced products are no good, we can import better ones from abroad, hence work visas, and skill immigrants."

It's rather silly to claim that American government education system is aimed at producing "undifferentiated laborers to meet employers' demands". If anything, the requirements of employers are spit upon. And this is why America needs immigration of a great number of foreign students from China who were educated "assembly line education system to produce undifferentiated laborers to meet employers' demands".

Hyphenated American said...

I always wondered why America spends much more money on "special needs kids", while neglecting the talented kids. This is definitely not in the interests of society - if anything, what benefits society more - spend 20k on a retarded kid and 10k on a bright one - or spend 20k on a bright kid, and 10k on a retarded one? What would be the best return on investment for society?
But the real reason for this stupidity is obvious - equality is the goal in today's America, not actual well-being.

Bob_R said...

My son was taught in a "Mainstream" program in Blacksburg, VA - where the documentary "Educating Peter" was shot. Like all education processes mainstreaming can be better or worse depending on the implementation. Our county had a lot of administrators and teachers committed to the project. It certainly worked well for my son, and I feel it worked well for his classmates.

We've gotten on the tangent of mainstreaming (prompted by commenters with little information.) The original topic was leveling/deleveling. These are vary different topics. Mainstreaming is about dealing with the lowest 3-sigma (approximately) students (by definition a small group - about 2.2%.) Leveling is about how we mix 1-sigma and 2-sigma students. how do we mix the 95% of the students in the middle. It's a very different problem.

Bob_R said...

I'll add that public schools are a mess. I'm sure that there are "mainstreaming" programs that are horrible just as there are "traditional" programs that are horrible. I've seem a mainstreaming program that worked pretty well. But it was mostly because there were intelligent people who were willing to try different things and try to make life as good as possible for the students. Anyone who wants to go back to the old days of "retards locked in the attic" (there's a great tradition for you traditionalguy) is welcome.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I would group kids based on parents educational level, I felt growing up teachers assumed parents had the ability to do algebra and help them in the evening.

Really? How would you deal with my kids? The three who are in school are all A students in the gifted program. I have a high school education, some college while my husband has a master's degree. He cannot comprehend our daughter's middle school math because A. it's taught very differently than how he learned math in the 1970s and B. his degrees are in an entirely unrelated field.

And by the way--he is extremely smart and has a very distinguished collegiate record while his mother has an 8th grade education and his father dropped out of high school and later earned his GED. You just never know.

Gahrie said...

If schools put all kids on their own levels in each subject, the classes would be easier to teach, and there would be no expectation that everyone in a particular class would be the same age, so fewer social problems from being ahead or behind.

This is how it used to be done. however, it requires teachers and administrators to make judgements about students and defend those judgements to parents.

Bob_R said...

Hyphen-boy: Your statistical and critical thinking skills seem to indicate that you are on the same side of the bell curve as the "special needs" kids. Take a look at all of the subsidies given to "gifted and talented" students. Don't stop at K-12. Take a look at all of the subsidies they get at the college (and graduate) levels.(Look at federal, state,local, and private - as in college endowments.) You can make a judgement of the utility of this, but the quantity of dollars given to +3-sigma dwarfs the money given to -3-sigma.

Hagar said...

The purpose of public schools should be to provide the good general educational background that you need to be a citizen.
You can then go on to specialize on your own as your needs and fancy takes you.

Freeman Hunt said...

This is how it used to be done. however, it requires teachers and administrators to make judgments about students and defend those judgments to parents.

Heck, isn't this even how they did it in one room schoolhouses? Why not just let everyone move along at his own pace? The people moving faster wouldn't be held back and kept in a semi-prison situation, and the people moving slower wouldn't be forced along to "graduate" without any solid skills.

Freeman Hunt said...

The purpose of public schools should be to provide the good general educational background that you need to be a citizen.

If that's true, public school should only be four to six years long. I think it's clearly meant to be more than that.

Hyphenated American said...

"Hyphen-boy: Your statistical and critical thinking skills seem to indicate that you are on the same side of the bell curve as the "special needs" kids."

Okay, stupid-Bob, you need to really bring it home now.

" Take a look at all of the subsidies given to "gifted and talented" students. "

Ah, "special Bob", let me provide some statistics to you.


"One recent study indicates total spending on special education has risen from 4 percent of district budget to 21 percent from 1970 to 2005. Some districts in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and other high spending states, spend over 30 percent of the budget on special education. None of these figures include the cost of classroom space and facilities."
http://www.studentsfirst.org/blog/entry/serving-students-with-special-needs/

Take a look at any school, is there any doubt that "special kids" like you, Bob, take much more resources than bright kids in the same school. And let's not forget huge money spent on government subsidizing kids like Bob going to private schools.

"Don't stop at K-12."

Ahm, special Bob. I was talking exclusively about schools for kids, not universities.in other kids, special Bob, I was talking about k-12, only.

"Take a look at all of the subsidies they get at the college (and graduate) levels. Look at federal, state,local, and private - as in college endowments.) "

I was talking exclusively about kids, which is why I wrote "kids", not students of all ages. I can see why you resorted to insults from the very beginning, you are too retarded to read what I wrote and respond to what I wrote. But I forgive you, although I don't see why I should pay more for your education, and not some smart kid.

"You can make a judgement of the utility of this, but the quantity of dollars given to +3-sigma dwarfs the money given to -3-sigma."

First of all, don't try to impress an engineer with quasi-mathematical terms. 3 sigma what? Are you talking exclusively about IQ level? Or when you talk about "special needs kids", you also include behavioral issues? Granted, what I am talking about is way beyond your iq level, Bob, but lets try this once again. Does America spend far more on "special needs kids" than it spends on highly talented kids? Note, that I am talking about kids, not university students. Do I need to emphasize again that I am talking about kids, or you got it through thick scull what I am talking about?

Gahrie said...

Why not just let everyone move along at his own pace? The people moving faster wouldn't be held back and kept in a semi-prison situation, and the people moving slower wouldn't be forced along to "graduate" without any solid skills.

The resulting demographics are too uncomfortable for some people.

Steve Koch said...

Vouchers are a no brainer, of course we should encourage competition, parents should be free to pick the school their kids attend, government should not have a near monopoly on education and kids should not be force fed propaganda by lefty union teachers. Vouchers are working great around the world and the only reason they are not much more prevalent in the USA is because teachers' unions are one of the dems' biggest PIGs (privileged interest groups) and they are terrified of competition (for good reason).

Steve Koch said...

Forcing the smartest kids to go at the pace of the slowest kids is child abuse. The smartest kids don't even need to be taught, they can learn by reading books or online instruction. The smart people, especially the independent, even rebellious ones are the people that move this country forward. The smart people must be permitted to advance as fast as they can.

As many kids as possible should be learning via computer so they can advance as fast as possible to keep them interested. The teachers can focus more on helping individuals (though the teaching software will be better than most teachers).

I know of a little school my ex in laws set up on a shoe string in very rural Missouri that relies very, very heavily on computer instruction. The kids in that school are waay ahead of the same age kids in the local public school.

Kev said...

I recently had a 'discussion' with a principal in my district who argued that it is possible to have 100% engagement of 100% of students, 100% of in-class time. He's nuts.

And I'm willing to bet that this principal hasn't actually taught in 20 or 30 years--one reason why requiring every administrator to teach one class per day in addition to whatever else they do would be very good for education.

ken in sc said...

Praxis, the teacher's exam used in many states, has a question on why tracking is not used for students. It's multiple choice and there are several possible answers such as 'it doesn't work' or it's illegal'. The correct choice is 'Parents will not tolerate this form of discrimination.' I wonder if they will change that question.

Another thing that needs to go away is the IEP (Individual Education Plan). They can be ridiculous. I had one girl who had to have all her tests printed on lavender colored paper.

pst314 said...

@pst314 - You can't spend three minutes doing your own research?

Nope. :-)

Thanks.

pst314 said...

Back in the sixties and seventies, opponents of ability grouping came up with the charming proposal that the smarter students should spend their class time coaching the dumber students--and that this would benefit smarter students.

Needless to say, this didn't turn out very well, but the oh-so-progressive ed school crackpots who keep coming up with these goofy ideas never suffer any negative consequences to their careers and reputations; only the children and parents that they love to perform their social experiments upon.

Hyphenated American said...

And don't forget that "grouping" makes it even more difficult for smart kids from poor and middle class families to advance, which in turn slows down upward mobility. Just like obamacare, grouping divides the nation into rich and poor, you either belong to the special few, or you belong to the state.

Hyphenated American said...

Garage and speaking about "communities", certain communities did not want the blacks to move in, just as your certain community does not want to give the chance to poor kids to escape from the clatches of the government schools. But don't forget, comrade, it's a civil rights issue. Why should only king obama's children be allowed to "act white" and go to private schools?

pst314 said...

Hyphenated American "And don't forget that 'grouping' makes it even more difficult for smart kids from poor and middle class families to advance"

That's not how it worked when/where I was in school: Anyone who showed the ability could get into the advanced placement classes. In fact, I initially was put in the regular track because of the deficiencies (caused by ed school teaching fads) of the grade school I had attended, but after freshman year was allowed into the AP science classes.

Hyphenated American said...

Pst, my mistake. I wanted to say that if we don't allow grouping of students per talent and effort, and instead put everybody roger with "special kids" like bob, then it makes more difficult for smart kids to excel in future life and use the upper mobility. Indeed, the attempt to equalize all kids from poor and middle class makes certain that upper class kids have better preparation.

pst314 said...

Hyphenated:
"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood."
-- Karl Popper
(from the comments form on the American Digest blog)
And if I had a dollar for every time I dropped a crucial word from a comment....