Gifted Education

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KestrelLowing
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Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Tue May 24, 2011 6:10 pm UTC

It wouldn't surprise me if a large portion of this community was either in a gifted program or eligible for one if it existed. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I'd like to see as many ideas as possible on what a great system for gifted education is.

First off, we have to determine what 'gifted' is. I'm not entirely certain what that should be defined as, so hopefully we can have a discussion on that too.

If you were/are in a gifted program of some sort, what did you do? What worked? What didn't?

If you weren't/aren't actually in a program but feel like you could/should have been, what were/are your experiences because you were not in an advanced program? What did/do you wish for?

If you aren't in a gifted program and don't feel like you are eligible, what are your thoughts on gifted education?

What are some of the problems academically, socially, personally, you had/are having in school due to being in a gifted program or not being in a gifted program?

What are your suggestions for a great gifted program?

Zcorp
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Tue May 24, 2011 6:55 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:It wouldn't surprise me if a large portion of this community was either in a gifted program or eligible for one if it existed. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I'd like to see as many ideas as possible on what a great system for gifted education is.

Great, read up on it then. Read about how school tracking harms school culture, how it does little to nothing to benefit the 'gifted' how it often even de-specializes them. Start here

What are your suggestions for a great gifted program?

Removing them, and instead of tracking students that are more adept than their peers request their assistance in teaching the concepts to other students, help the teacher cover the material and move the entire class forward. Give in class resources (most of which can be found online for free) for students advanced in the material to move on at their own pace without disrupting other classmates or being segregated during lectures.

hjordis
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby hjordis » Tue May 24, 2011 7:19 pm UTC

In elementary school we were removed for one day a week from one of our classes(reading, probably) and sent to another room where we did projects such as building model bridges and planning a road trip. I don't think I got much out of it. In 5th grade there was also an extra math class where we learned more advanced things for some of us, but I can't remember whether it was all year or just a few weeks. Oddly, I think this was also during our normal reading class, but I can't be sure as I have a very poor memory.

During middle school we did two independent projects a year and presented them to the school at the end of each semester. Even though I didn't really know what I was interested in at the time, so most of my projects were bad because I lost interest, I feel that this was much more valuable to me. It was even its own separate class, though it did mean you didn't take Spanish or computers(and it turned out languages were what I was interested in too. Always, but I didn't recognize this until high school.)

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KestrelLowing
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Tue May 24, 2011 7:41 pm UTC

If anyone could give a basic overview giving some of the major points of that book linked (Keeping Track, How Schools Structure Inequality), that'd be great. The local library doesn't have it.

However, darn it! I'm going to have to disagree already because I really just think these are horrible options.
Zcorp wrote:Removing them, and instead of tracking students that are more adept than their peers request their assistance in teaching the concepts to other students, help the teacher cover the material and move the entire class forward. Give in class resources (most of which can be found online for free) for students advanced in the material to move on at their own pace without disrupting other classmates or being segregated during lectures.


This, this right here is what made parts of my schooling absolutely intolerable. Being a student who understands the topic does not mean that you should be forced to teach other students. It sucks. Majorly. If someone is tutoring another student, they should be paid or at least have it count as community service or something!

I had one teacher in particular who taught chemistry and advanced algebra that would always ask me to explain things to other students. I pretty much taught those classes because my teacher was a horrible teacher and the other students would need it explained again. To deny help is to completely ostracize yourself socially, so I always helped, even if that meant not getting my work done in class.

Eventually you start resenting the other students and the teacher because this is the teacher's job, it's not yours. You're at school to learn, and you're not learning. While there are benefits of explaining things to other people (generally, you master the subject if you can teach it to someone else), it's not cool when you've explained it to half the class.

Getting placed in the back of the room with different work isn't very good either. As much as we like to say that smart kids should be able to teach themselves, they still need help. The teacher is already taxed with teaching an overfull class and they cannot spend the extra time teaching the advanced students.

Just an overview of all the types of gifted education I went through:

  • 1st-2nd grade - pull out program one day a week
  • 3rd-5th grade - separate classroom for 'Talented And Gifted' (TAG)
  • 6th grade - none at all
  • 7th-8th grade - occasional back of class work (we were in 'clusters' - so 2-3 TAG students in a class) and a pull out program (during lunch!) that entered us in contests. I was put a year ahead in math in 7th grade as well.
  • 9th-12th grade - honors and AP classes when available

So, I've been through the whole gamut: Nothing, separate classes, back of room, pull out, integrated (this is usually when you're asked to tutor other students), acceleration, even just enrichment (outside of school).

At least for me, the worst was being asked to teach other students and being in the back of the class. (Well, having none was worse, but that was a dark, dark time ;) )

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Mokele
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Mokele » Tue May 24, 2011 8:27 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:If you were/are in a gifted program of some sort, what did you do? What worked? What didn't?


It was pretty much just a parallel school system for kids with IQs over a given threshold (Icant remember what number), consisting of separate classes run at a faster pace, covering material more in-depth, and with higher standards.

Caveat - this was in the Louisana public school system, which, at the time, was the 2nd worst in the entire country and one of the worst in the entire civilized world. The gifted program got more resources, but even that was pretty woefully inadequate.

KestrelLowing wrote:If anyone could give a basic overview giving some of the major points of that book linked (Keeping Track, How Schools Structure Inequality), that'd be great. The local library doesn't have it.

However, darn it! I'm going to have to disagree already because I really just think these are horrible options.
Zcorp wrote:Removing them, and instead of tracking students that are more adept than their peers request their assistance in teaching the concepts to other students, help the teacher cover the material and move the entire class forward. Give in class resources (most of which can be found online for free) for students advanced in the material to move on at their own pace without disrupting other classmates or being segregated during lectures.


This, this right here is what made parts of my schooling absolutely intolerable. Being a student who understands the topic does not mean that you should be forced to teach other students. It sucks. Majorly. If someone is tutoring another student, they should be paid or at least have it count as community service or something!

I had one teacher in particular who taught chemistry and advanced algebra that would always ask me to explain things to other students. I pretty much taught those classes because my teacher was a horrible teacher and the other students would need it explained again. To deny help is to completely ostracize yourself socially, so I always helped, even if that meant not getting my work done in class.

Eventually you start resenting the other students and the teacher because this is the teacher's job, it's not yours. You're at school to learn, and you're not learning. While there are benefits of explaining things to other people (generally, you master the subject if you can teach it to someone else), it's not cool when you've explained it to half the class.

Getting placed in the back of the room with different work isn't very good either. As much as we like to say that smart kids should be able to teach themselves, they still need help. The teacher is already taxed with teaching an overfull class and they cannot spend the extra time teaching the advanced students.


I've gotta agree with Kestrel on this. It wasn't my job to teach my peers, many/most of whom didn't give two shits about actually learning. Doing so would have made school a total waste of time and effort.

As far as sitting in the back, that's fine if one student wants to just go a little bit faster, but hardly works when they're vastly ahead of their peers. In my case, I was taking AP Calc 2 (called Calc BC in those days), which wasn't even offered by the school, so I just sat in the back of a class of remedial math students and did my work, then met with a tutor from another school once a week. They might as well have just let me go home early for all it did.

The fact of the matter is that trying to cram everyone into one class due to misguided notions of equality doesn't work. If the teacher goes moderately fast, the smart kids are still bored and the dumb kids still lost, and shifting the teaching style/speed will only change which groups are having what reaction.
"With malleus aforethought, mammals got an earful of their ancestor's jaw" - J. Burns, Biograffiti

Zcorp
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Tue May 24, 2011 8:37 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:This, this right here is what made parts of my schooling absolutely intolerable. Being a student who understands the topic does not mean that you should be forced to teach other students. It sucks. Majorly. If someone is tutoring another student, they should be paid or at least have it count as community service or something!
Who said anything about force? I said request. And asking them to teach other students doesn't have to mean tutor them. It could very well mean start a project related to the material that is more advanced than what the class is doing and recruit other students to partake if they are interested.

I had one teacher in particular who taught chemistry and advanced algebra that would always ask me to explain things to other students. I pretty much taught those classes because my teacher was a horrible teacher and the other students would need it explained again. To deny help is to completely ostracize yourself socially, so I always helped, even if that meant not getting my work done in class.
A teacher that publicly requests or demands that you help other students is an example of something a horrible teacher would do. However, because horrible teachers exist doesn't mean we should track students, it also doesn't mean the best teachers should be teaching the most advanced students.

Eventually you start resenting the other students and the teacher because this is the teacher's job, it's not yours. You're at school to learn, and you're not learning. While there are benefits of explaining things to other people (generally, you master the subject if you can teach it to someone else), it's not cool when you've explained it to half the class.
You are learning you are just choosing to ignore what you are learning. You are applying your knowledge and trying to figure out how to articulate it in a way that others can understand. It is commonly said the best way to learn something is to teach it (but being able to teach it certainly does not mean mastery of it), while only half true it is a useful skill to learn. Realistically a classroom teaches you a lot of skills, and retards a lot of skills, socialization is one of the important skills it teaches. By working with other students you have a great opportunity to apply or see where you fall short with skills like leadership and communication.

The goal of homework (although it very arguably fails at this goal and impedes learning) is to get you familiar with the material and to interiorize the processes and knowledge. Tutoring other students fulfills this goal, so you could try speaking with your teacher and if they do assign homework request that this counts toward your grade in its place, that way you 'get' something for doing something that is 'not your job.'

Additionally the best way to gain access to higher levels of complexity of a subject from your teacher, would be to display mastery of the material and then ask them about what you can do to further your understanding of that path of knowledge.

Getting placed in the back of the room with different work isn't very good either. As much as we like to say that smart kids should be able to teach themselves, they still need help. The teacher is already taxed with teaching an overfull class and they cannot spend the extra time teaching the advanced students.
Who said anything about not helping advanced students? If they assisted the teachers with the overfull class wouldn't the teachers would have more time for focusing on and helping the advanced students with more advanced material?

So, I've been through the whole gamut: Nothing, separate classes, back of room, pull out, integrated (this is usually when you're asked to tutor other students), acceleration, even just enrichment (outside of school).

At least for me, the worst was being asked to teach other students and being in the back of the class. (Well, having none was worse, but that was a dark, dark time ;) )
The schools job is the create as many students as they can that are generally proficient in a variety of subjects. They are failing, one of the reasons they are failing is because they separated you from the 'average' students (which has little to do with potential, capacity to learn or general intelligence).

Your sense of entitlement is incredibly destructive to the goals of a school, and your perception greatly harms your own potential to learn skills beyond what you perceive as valuable or fun. AP/4.0/'gifted'/valedictorian students show great potential in jumping through hoops, and many become phenomenal employees. However, that you, one of our systems 'gifted', express an inability to expand your knowledge of the topic without the assistance of the classroom teacher - who has more pressing responsibilities - despite the plethora of free resources that can help you such as: wikipedia, Stanford,Khan Academy or Connexions is a greater failing of our educational system than the 15% high school drop out rate.

Maybe one aspect of this is said better coming from someone around your own age.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M4tdMsg3ts
http://americaviaerica.blogspot.com/201 ... peech.html

Mokele wrote:The fact of the matter is that trying to cram everyone into one class due to misguided notions of equality doesn't work. If the teacher goes moderately fast, the smart kids are still bored and the dumb kids still lost, and shifting the teaching style/speed will only change which groups are having what reaction.
Except that all of that is false, refer to the book I linked or just generally search the net for information on the topic.

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Mokele
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Mokele » Tue May 24, 2011 10:12 pm UTC

It's all well and good to say "Go read this", but some of us have actual important things to do in RL. Try actually conveying information rather than throwing up a list of sources.

Zcorp wrote:Your sense of entitlement is incredibly destructive to the goals of a school, and your perception greatly harms your own potential to learn skills beyond what you perceive as valuable or fun. AP/4.0/'gifted'/valedictorian students show great potential in jumping through hoops, and many become phenomenal employees. However, that you, one of our systems 'gifted', express an inability to expand your knowledge of the topic without the assistance of the classroom teacher - who has more pressing responsibilities - despite the plethora of free resources that can help you such as: wikipedia, Stanford,Khan Academy or Connexions is a greater failing of our educational system than the 15% high school drop out rate.

Maybe one aspect of this is said better coming from someone around your own age.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M4tdMsg3ts
http://americaviaerica.blogspot.com/201 ... peech.html


Yes, yes, we all know the refrain about how students are just taught to the test, and it's a crappy system. However, that is not a consequence of separating students by ability, but rather a separate, independent problem.

Zcorp wrote:You are learning you are just choosing to ignore what you are learning. You are applying your knowledge and trying to figure out how to articulate it in a way that others can understand. It is commonly said the best way to learn something is to teach it (but being able to teach it certainly does not mean mastery of it), while only half true it is a useful skill to learn. Realistically a classroom teaches you a lot of skills, and retards a lot of skills, socialization is one of the important skills it teaches. By working with other students you have a great opportunity to apply or see where you fall short with skills like leadership and communication.


Now, what about the real world, where the students you're tutoring resent you for your perceived 'higher status', or even simply openly hate you as part of the general HS popularity crap that infests all schools?

Plus, what about the poor students you're teaching? There's no guarantee a given smart student will be even marginally competent at teaching. There's a reason why schools require degrees and certification from teachers. All your plan does is loose a horde of immature, uncertified, barely educated teachers-aides onto students who come to school expecting to actually be taught by someone who both fully knows the subject and has at least some training in *how* to teach.

Besides, I didn't go to chemistry class to learn how to teach, I went to learn chemistry. And while teaching can help master a subject, by the 20th time you've had to go over balancing reactions or pH, you're gaining absolutely nothing, except maybe a headache.

Zcorp wrote:Additionally the best way to gain access to higher levels of complexity of a subject from your teacher, would be to display mastery of the material and then ask them about what you can do to further your understanding of that path of knowledge.


Ok, I gotta ask, where did you go to school? Because from the sound of this, I suspect either in Western Europe, or in one of the top ten US states for education, or in a small private school.

Consider the difficulties in implementing this in schools like, well, where I went to HS. A school so badly funded that they still didn't have the money to remove the asbestos in the ceiling(in the mid-90's), with "extra problems" that included gang violence and machette-fights on school grounds, with not a single class that had less than 35 students in it (some had as many as 70). Take a guess how many teachers had time to cater to above-average students on an individual basis. Even if some of the "gifted" students had helped teach, the freed up time would just be spent trying to drag the majority up to even moderate proficiency. Even with the gifted program, I wound up educating myself on topics I cared about on my own, simply because no teachers had the spare time for individual attention.

At the core of it is the issue of money - there is none. Sometimes less than none. And gifted programs allow a subset of students to get a better education via low-to-no-cost methods of just shuffling who's in which class with what teacher. It doesn't deprive any other students of funds, time or space, and keeps us out of each other's way.
"With malleus aforethought, mammals got an earful of their ancestor's jaw" - J. Burns, Biograffiti

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby maxh » Tue May 24, 2011 10:31 pm UTC

In grades 1-5, we had advanced science classes (middle/high school level, for the most part). At the end of grade five, we made ice cream with liquid nitrogen.
In grade 6-8, we had various internship opportunites (mostly at the national magnet lab).
After that special programmes just meant more homework, so I didn't bother.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Chandani » Tue May 24, 2011 10:54 pm UTC

Hullo.
I'm going to jump in this topic a bit with my experiences, and then add on to this discussion with my views on gifted education vs. normal education. (Spoilered for length)

Spoiler:
In my school district, we didn't have a gifted program until after 3rd grade. They first made you take a test in 2nd grade, and if you got high on the age-based percentile group (which favored younger kids), you had to take another test. The first test allowed you to enter the pullout program, which had no limit, while the second test allowed you to be entered into a lottery for the gifted program, which was at a far away school somewhere and only accepted around 24 kids. I now think they put it there in order to boost their test grades.

Anyway, after that, you had to follow a set path of classes except for in two subjects: math and humanities. For math, you were allowed to take another test which allowed you to skip either one grade of math (be one grade ahead) or three (be three grades ahead). There was no way to skip two grades (officially: I know one girl who got into that middle 8th grade math through the test) until 6th grade, in which you took the test which allowed you to skip 8th grade math and be two grades ahead. After middle school there was no way to skip math levels. You would be on the track which (until recently) would mean that you finish precalc by senior year.

Humanities was a point system involving various test scores, grades, and a lottery. Only 48-ish students were allowed in the classes, and there were only two classes taught in our middle school. You could also take Spanish early (in 8th grade)

Come high school you could only (until recently) skip the general science class through another test. Math was set in stone. So was foreign language. Humanities it really didn't matter what you took: it was up to your choice.

I have been in advanced classes since I was in 3rd grade. I was one of the lucky ones who got into the separate gifted program: I don't know if that helped me or not (I don't have much memories) except I'm pretty sure for math, since we had advanced math programs in our classroom. I got into the advanced humanities program, but I didn't get to skip two years right away: I had to take that other test in 7th grade. I have been in both 'normal' classes (read: normal track) and advanced classes since then, and I can tell you, being in advanced classes doesn't mean all the problems go away. You still got your slackers, you still got the people who tried but can't understand it, and you still have the people who get stuff way too easily.

Now... comments.
Zcorp wrote:Who said anything about force? I said request. And asking them to teach other students doesn't have to mean tutor them. It could very well mean start a project related to the material that is more advanced than what the class is doing and recruit other students to partake if they are interested.
Heh. Group projects. I know people view group projects differently, but I've never really liked group projects. Especially when you have the reputation of being smart, you end up doing a lot/most of the work. And you're asking students to recruit others who are interested in doing a project? How many people do you think would sign up for that? In all types of classes, people don't want to do extra work. You'll either get people who are advanced students helping you (which would defeat the purpose of teaching students who aren't advanced) or you'll get no one.

You do also realize that people tutor others in advanced classes, too? It's very common for people of all classes to help teach others (if not, it's common for me). I know in my current math class, people teach others the math during lunch and during class itself. The environment in my classes are very collaborative, no matter what level you would put them on.

I also have a question: what are you (Zcorp) think about math? I don't like my school's tracking system during middle school or elementary school (they pretty much got rid of it in high school now, and maybe they got rid of it in middle school too, but I haven't followed those developments) but math is taught in a very linear manner. Please don't tell me you're planning to have one math class for a whole grade.

In fact... is most of the tracking discussion focused on elementary school (which typically have one big class taught the same subjects by one teacher) ? Because there are very good reasons for splitting up classes later on: like sciences being taught in different classes, or because of different curriculum reasons. I think you don't like AP/IB classes: but would you mind them if they are there for curriculum reasons (for instance, our IB History class covers Latin America, while normal History does not)?

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Tue May 24, 2011 10:56 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:It's all well and good to say "Go read this", but some of us have actual important things to do in RL. Try actually conveying information rather than throwing up a list of sources.
The concept is simple, tracking doesn't benefit the school as a whole, barely benefits the advanced students and only helps them achieve very specific abilities that are not the entire goal of the system, examples of skills that are neglected are socialization, communication, cooperation, civic mindedness (not that his is covered much in the system at all), and leadership. It greatly hurts the performance of some students, and it hurts them for a variety of reasons many of which they can't control such as: the time of year they were born, the education of their parents, a year where parents where fighting and they got depressed or neglected at 10, the reality of their brains development being outside of .5 standard deviations, the amount of time their parents spend at home, a single or multiple bad teachers early in their education, etc. Once put onto a track students have a very hard changing their own track, and teachers treat them differently furthering the variance in educational opportunity and equity.

The book goes about telling the story of the research done to reach this conclusion.

Now, what about the real world, where the students you're tutoring resent you for your perceived 'higher status', or even simply openly hate you as part of the general HS popularity crap that infests all schools?
It doesn't infest all schools, many or even most of the public schools sure. And it is a flaw that many are trying to correct. Social reinforcement for learning, student - student bonding and community building are are aspects of the real world and are being utilized effectively in private schools, charter schools and many non-american public systems. We change systems by changing the components of those systems, in social systems it is hard and feelings get hurt. However, the system now barely propels the very few at a significant cost of the many. Thats a pretty stupid system.

Plus, what about the poor students you're teaching? There's no guarantee a given smart student will be even marginally competent at teaching. There's a reason why schools require degrees and certification from teachers. All your plan does is loose a horde of immature, uncertified, barely educated teachers-aides onto students who come to school expecting to actually be taught by someone who both fully knows the subject and has at least some training in *how* to teach.
Beyond the problems with how poor our teacher credentials are and how difficult it is to achieve despite the appalling pay off, there is all of the data that displays how this creates positive effects on the school environment, increases the evaluation skills in advanced students and the efficacy of student's teaching students is quite good.

Besides, I didn't go to chemistry class to learn how to teach, I went to learn chemistry. And while teaching can help master a subject, by the 20th time you've had to go over balancing reactions or pH, you're gaining absolutely nothing, except maybe a headache.
You went to compulsory school because you were sent there. This institution was meant to prepare a group of people to enter a workforce as cogs in a giant economic machine, part of the goals of that institution were to socialize you, make you trainable and standardize you. The goal of chemistry class in the public educational system is not just to teach you chemistry. Teaching the material in the class can help you develop a lot of skills that just learning chemistry can not, those are often the skills that people who excel at the physical sciences lack. If everyone just learned what they wanted to learn our system wouldn't work very well at all. Oh and teaching still != tutoring.

Ok, I gotta ask, where did you go to school? Because from the sound of this, I suspect either in Western Europe, or in one of the top ten US states for education, or in a small private school.
I fail to grasp the relevancy but I'll bite, I went to public school in the states in a state rated 48th in school funding and student achievement IIRC, Colorado in the 90's.

But I can speak with just a bit of authority on the subject as I've devoted my studies to educational and organization psychology and pedagogy not because I went to high school.

Consider the difficulties in implementing this in schools like, well, where I went to HS. A school so badly funded that they still didn't have the money to remove the asbestos in the ceiling(in the mid-90's), with "extra problems" that included gang violence and machette-fights on school grounds, with not a single class that had less than 35 students in it (some had as many as 70). Take a guess how many teachers had time to cater to above-average students on an individual basis. Even if some of the "gifted" students had helped teach, the freed up time would just be spent trying to drag the majority up to even moderate proficiency. Even with the gifted program, I wound up educating myself on topics I cared about on my own, simply because no teachers had the spare time for individual attention.
And all evidence shows that gang-violence decreases while student achievement and interaction and graduation rates increase if we remove student tracking programs.

At the core of it is the issue of money - there is none. Sometimes less than none. And gifted programs allow a subset of students to get a better education via low-to-no-cost methods of just shuffling who's in which class with what teacher. It doesn't deprive any other students of funds, time or space, and keeps us out of each other's way.
Also not true, we spend more per capita on students than the rest of the world even when adjusting for the higher standard of living. There is money it is just being poorly used due to a structure that is poorly put together. For example spending extra money to create classes specifically targeting more advanced students, even though that benefit is negligible to those students and the cost to other students economically, socially and psychologically is very high. Are you not being taught by the same school that is teaching the other kids? Where do you think the funds come from to teach and extra class of 'advanced kids' how about which teachers get picked to teach the advanced kids? If the best teachers teach the advanced kids how does this not deprive other students of resources? Keeping you out of each other's way is the problem.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Kurushimi » Wed May 25, 2011 12:37 am UTC

I like the idea of gifted education. Things like giving students instructions in a higher math class seems cool to me because I was often bored in math classes because everything was so easy, and I would've really appreciated being able to jump ahead a bit. I did skip precalculus completely and I didn't suffer one bit from any "instruction" I missed, through Calc BC, Calc III, and Differential Equations. I feel like I could've done the same with Algebra I if I had the opportunity, and I would've had a lot of fun learning more challenging material. So from my perspective at least, it seems like a good idea.

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Solt
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Solt » Wed May 25, 2011 3:37 am UTC

Zcorp, can you propose an alternative to tracking? If I had to guess, I would say you are thinking of those new charter schools they talk about in "Waiting For Superman" that you have to apply to get into, that don't do tracking.

Unfortunately such schools have a selection bias. Only students motivated to study go there. There's a difference between a low-performing student with motivation and a low performing student without. What happens when you impose such a program in an entire district, with no chance to opt in or out? So I may be wrong, but I would think such a system would have to be used on a wider scale before we could be sure it works. Also there are other problems I will discuss below.

I don't see how you could justify not tracking. Right now, some students learn faster. Do you propose keeping them in the same math classes as the students who never learn math well? If so, they'd never make it to Calculus in high school and you'd pretty much set them back years if they wanted to go into a technical field in college. Same with writing and a humanities field. Either that, or you'd have kids who are not ready to take Calculus taking it, setting them up to fail. Not all smart students have the kind of motivation you are expecting them to have, and a lack of direction could cause them to under-use their potential. Given the option between struggling through a calculus book or playing video games in their free time, which do you think your typical gifted kid that finished their homework early is going to do? If kids didn't need structure and direction, we wouldn't need an education system at all.

Here's the thing, I actually agree it's possible to make sure all students proceed equally fast given the right environment. The problem is, you'd have to solve the very problems our education system has been unable to solve for the last few decades. The success of your approach is contingent, basically, on making education perfect. It's not, so tracking is a pretty fail proof way to make sure you limit the effects of that failure on the highest performing. I mean, we can't even fire bad teachers and the overwhelming majority of districts do not use any kind of on the job training or collaboration programs for new teachers. They are basically expected to become great teachers based entirely on their classroom experience. Until we can overcome these extremely basic problems, how are we going to meet the huge challenge of making sure students from bad backgrounds keep up with the students who have everything going for them? This is the EXACT problem the education system as a whole is struggling to figure out right now, and it's only in the last few years that people have even started to think that what you suggest is possible. One thing is for sure, ending tracking will NOT solve it. Not by a long shot.

These problems are solvable and people are working on them, but in the interim I think tracking has been a great solution.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 3:59 am UTC

Solt wrote:Zcorp, can you propose an alternative to tracking? If I had to guess, I would say you are thinking of those new charter schools they talk about in "Waiting For Superman" that you have to apply to get into, that don't do tracking.
? no I simply propose not Tracking...
KIPP and Greendot and others aren't a practical solution political and logistically for the public for lots of reasons right now. Other require heavy parent engagement are entirely college predatory (which has many issues) I don't know the specifics of Greendot but KIPP has students in school 10 hours a day plus at least every other Saturday for 6 hours. They require uniforms etc etc etc.

There are lots of solutions I can offer and things going into practice right now in education, some are pilot programs, some are unsustainable others would work wonderfully if dropped right into the public system as is. One of those is removing Tracking, which is what I've talked about as that is closely related to the topic.

Unfortunately such schools have a selection bias. Only students motivated to study go there. There's a difference between a low-performing student with motivation and a low performing student without. What happens when you impose such a program in an entire district, with no chance to opt in or out? So I may be wrong, but I would think such a system would have to be used on a wider scale before we could be sure it works. Also there are other problems I will discuss below.
Well not really the selection bias is more closely related to motivated parents, who are already likely creating a better home learning environment. Getting a bit off topic with this.

I don't see how you could justify not tracking. Right now, some students learn faster. Do you propose keeping them in the same math classes as the students who never learn math well? If so, they'd never make it to Calculus in high school and you'd pretty much set them back years if they wanted to go into a technical field in college. Same with writing and a humanities field. Either that, or you'd have kids who are not ready to take Calculus taking it, setting them up to fail. Not all smart students have the kind of motivation you are expecting them to have, and a lack of direction could cause them to under-use their potential. Given the option between struggling through a calculus book or playing video games in their free time, which do you think your typical gifted kid that finished their homework early is going to do? If kids didn't need structure and direction, we wouldn't need an education system at all.
Calculus is not a required course for high school graduation and it is unlikely ever to be. I'm suggesting having all students take algebra together and those that want to take Calculus can and will move on to do so in their electives.

Much of the motivation and lack of interest you are speaking about comes from student Tracking. From the differences in the way students get taught and perceived by their peers and teachers.

Here's the thing, I actually agree it's possible to make sure all students proceed equally fast given the right environment.
I never said that and I don't believe it. In fact I know it is not true.

The problem is, you'd have to solve the very problems our education system has been unable to solve for the last few decades. The success of your approach is contingent, basically, on making education perfect. It's not, so tracking is a pretty fail proof way to make sure you limit the effects of that failure on the highest performing.
Yeah...still wrong, it is a pretty amazing way to create more significant failure in the rest of the population.

I mean, we can't even fire bad teachers and the overwhelming majority of districts do not use any kind of on the job training or collaboration programs for new teachers. They are basically expected to become great teachers based entirely on their classroom experience. Until we can overcome these extremely basic problems, how are we going to meet the huge challenge of making sure students from bad backgrounds keep up with the students who have everything going for them? This is the EXACT problem the education system as a whole is struggling to figure out right now, and it's only in the last few years that people have even started to think that what you suggest is possible. One thing is for sure, ending tracking will NOT solve it. Not by a long shot.
The straw-men are strong with you. Yes lots of things need to be done, much related to school administration and firing, much related to teacher preparation, much related to changing the social atmosphere of schools. One of the things that will improve our system, along with many other things, is removing Tracking.

These problems are solvable and people are working on them, but in the interim I think tracking has been a great solution.
Cool, and I'm telling you that you have no clue what you are talking about.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Jahoclave » Wed May 25, 2011 4:33 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Mokele wrote:The fact of the matter is that trying to cram everyone into one class due to misguided notions of equality doesn't work. If the teacher goes moderately fast, the smart kids are still bored and the dumb kids still lost, and shifting the teaching style/speed will only change which groups are having what reaction.
Except that all of that is false, refer to the book I linked or just generally search the net for information on the topic.

It's nice that you're pulling things out of a book, but I do teach, and shoving a bunch of students at disparate levels of ability into a single classroom doeslead to negative affects on students. I can only teach to one group, and it's increasingly forced to be the ones least receptive, thereby short-changing students who really could learn something, but if I tried to teach them I'd alienate a large amount of the class. The ones who could use the comp knowledge most aren't getting the help they could use to most utility don't get it because I have to explain how to write coherent fucking sentences to college freshman.

So yeah, if it isn't working at a college level it sure as hell ain't working at the k-12. The inordinate amount of under-qualified students makes "prepared for college" a joke of a goal.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby jmorgan3 » Wed May 25, 2011 4:51 am UTC

Zcorp, I'm a little unclear on the exact meaning of "Tracking." Could you please say whether each of the following is "Tracking" and whether you support it?

-Placing special education students in their own class

-Placing proven delinquents or violent offenders in their own school or class

-Allowing students to take classes ahead of their grade level (e.g. a 6th grader can take a math class with "normal" 8th graders)

-Offering AP/IB classes to any interested student

-Offering AP/IB classes to students who pass a certain test
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 5:41 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:It's nice that you're pulling things out of a book
I'm citing a book that cites many other research papers. I cited that single source as it is a decently comprehensive and relatively inexpensive book to gain some good knowledge of the subject. However, you are welcome to look through various journals and or look through various easy to access information with Google searches. Of course starting at the wiki isn't a bad place, but don't stop here (this article should also address a bit jmorgan's questions).

but I do teach, and shoving a bunch of students at disparate levels of ability into a single classroom doeslead to negative affects on students.
Objectively less than tracking them does.

I can only teach to one group, and it's increasingly forced to be the ones least receptive, thereby short-changing students who really could learn something, but if I tried to teach them I'd alienate a large amount of the class. The ones who could use the comp knowledge most aren't getting the help they could use to most utility don't get it because I have to explain how to write coherent fucking sentences to college freshman.
What do you teach and at what level? Changing the structure of your class can have significant affects how solving problems such as this.

So yeah, if it isn't working at a college level it sure as hell ain't working at the k-12. The inordinate amount of under-qualified students makes "prepared for college" a joke of a goal.
The problem at the college level is partially result of it being implemented K-12.

jmorgan3 wrote:
-Placing special education students in their own class
Depends on the student
-Placing proven delinquents or violent offenders in their own school or class
depends on the student
-Allowing students to take classes ahead of their grade level (e.g. a 6th grader can take a math class with "normal" 8th graders)
no reason to prevent students from skipping grade levels if they choose to do so, otherwise teachers should be prepared to give material to advanced students in a 6th grade class if they display mastery of the course
-Offering AP/IB classes to any interested student
Tracking and yes I'm against it
-Offering AP/IB classes to students who pass a certain test
Same as above

And again, this is just one change that has shown to have efficacy within the system has a whole and many other changes will complement this one although removing Tracking itself will improve our system.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby jmorgan3 » Wed May 25, 2011 7:11 am UTC

Okay, I can accept that the BS once-a-week pull-out programs in elementary school do "little to nothing to benefit" their participants, but advocating getting rid of AP classes, even if they are open-enrollment, is going too far. Personally, AP classes saved me about $15,000 by allowing me to essentially skip a year of college. There are still opportunities for leadership, communication, and socialization because even students in advanced classes have stumbling blocks and gaps in knowledge.

Furthermore, in my experience, tutoring someone of similar ability is much more rewarding. They don't expect you to do their work for them, they have enough understanding to argue with you, and there's no resentment because your roles will probably be swapped next week.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 7:58 am UTC

jmorgan3 wrote:Okay, I can accept that the BS once-a-week pull-out programs in elementary school do "little to nothing to benefit" their participants, but advocating getting rid of AP classes, even if they are open-enrollment, is going too far. Personally, AP classes saved me about $15,000 by allowing me to essentially skip a year of college. There are still opportunities for leadership, communication, and socialization because even students in advanced classes have stumbling blocks and gaps in knowledge.

Furthermore, in my experience, tutoring someone of similar ability is much more rewarding. They don't expect you to do their work for them, they have enough understanding to argue with you, and there's no resentment because your roles will probably be swapped next week.

Sorry the reality of our situation threatens you or those whom have been very fortunate within our system. The goal is to improve it for everyone, not just the fortunate. We will have to create a system that teaches students more in less time as is the nature of progressive knowledge.

The point of posting the valedictorian speech was to point out that the most successful at adhering to the rules of our system are not the only intelligent individuals nor are they necessarily more capable than the 'average' students. They, simply by achieving the grades or marks, haven't demonstrated any useful skill besides being the best potential employee. Significant aspects of the educational system are likely to change within your life time as new technology allows for educational tools and lessons that were never possible before. Expecting some sort of equivalent to what some schools are doing with pairing associate degrees and high school diplomas and or generally stuffing more education in to less time is going to the be trend. The goal of a good public educational system is not to uplift the few but intellectually and civic-ally empower the masses. If doing that requires a more even distribution of resources and so that the few exceptional academic students have to go so far out of their way to search for educational resources that their teacher can logistically provide that is what should be done. Opportunities for the inspired and adept student to take the reigns of their own education are becoming more prevalent by the day (literally), the system harms itself and these students if it continues to pander to them as the majority fails.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby eSOANEM » Wed May 25, 2011 8:24 am UTC

I'm going to chime in from the other side of the pond here.

At primary school (up to 11) we were split into two ability sets with the top one going a bit faster and covering slightly harder ground. In maths lessons, we were also given slightly more complex problems and, by the end of it, we'd covered between a year and two years' worth of extra stuff (albeit with even more handwaving and in less detail).

I then went to one of the few grammar schools in the country. The English grammar school system used to be the main system throughout the country, but was largely abolished in the 60s and 70s. In it, the top 10-25% of each year (as measured by an IQ style verbal reasoning test) get to go to the grammar schools whilst the remaining pupils go to secondary moderns or technical schools.

From the third year at the grammar school (year 9, age 13-14) onwards, we were then streamed into sets for maths and sciences. Now that I'm in my penultimate year doing my A levels, I'm in an accelerated maths set were we cover another further maths AS level (and many people, including myself, self-teach the remaining 3 modules to make it a full A level). Additionally, there is the option to do 5 A levels (not including the 3rd maths which can take it to 6) rather than the usual (at our school) 4 or 4.5 (doing 5 for the first year then dropping one) .

So I've been in some form of tracking and/or streaming/setting pretty much my entire school career, and it's certainly helped me. Additionally, whilst I can't vouch for the US, the grammar school system (which seems to be the closest we have/had widely here in the UK to tracking as described in the wiki article Zcorp linked) consistently achieved better outcomes on average across all students and had substantially better social mobility rates than the comprehensive system which replaced it with the aim of improving social mobility.

I don't know if the reason it worked/s here but may not work so well objectively in the states is because the two tracks were separated into different schools, or something else, but here at least, it was one of our education's greatest assets that has now been ruined by the misguided belief that everyone has equal ability (which has also damaged our university system and increased dropout rates by encouraging people who'd do better in the workplace, to go to uni instead, which they hate).

Zcorp wrote:
Mokele wrote:The fact of the matter is that trying to cram everyone into one class due to misguided notions of equality doesn't work. If the teacher goes moderately fast, the smart kids are still bored and the dumb kids still lost, and shifting the teaching style/speed will only change which groups are having what reaction.
Except that all of that is false, refer to the book I linked or just generally search the net for information on the topic.


In my experience, Mokele is right. When I did my GCSE English which was in mixed ability classes (albeit at a grammar school so there's a selection bias there), the average grade (across the entire year) was lower than in the ability-split subjects (like maths and sciences), I don't know if that's because my school's particularly good at STEM-based stuff (they are some of the most popular choices of A levels) though.

Additionally, when I was in year 2 (age 6), we weren't streamed or set at all and I (and many of the other brighter kids) was towards the bottom of the class and being disruptive etc. eventually, my parents took me to an educational psychologist who said it was because the subject matter wasn't stretching me and I was bored. Likewise, whenever there's a documentary looking at comprehensive schools here, similar sentiments are made, that the brighter kids aren't fulfilling their potential because it's too boring whilst the less academically able kids struggle to keep up with the pace and so give up.

Untracked education tries to make everyone fit the same hole, but doesn't see that there are lots of different holes which need filling.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Jahoclave » Wed May 25, 2011 8:55 am UTC

Yeah, notice how most of the objections are not with actual educational results, but rather emotional feelings? Guess who still doesn't learn when combined with high achieving students?

Just because they come from poverty doesn't mean they're at the same level even if they have the same aptitude. Part of the solution is bringing them up to a level, and if you can't focus the attention you need to in order to do so, then you're just shoving them under the bus anyways. Whether or not poverty is the reason they're underachieving doesn't change their underachievement. The solution may be different, and in fact easier because it's not an aptitude issue. But, if you can't address it because you have to keep the other half the class engaged you're not helping one bit. The argument really runs afoul of the correlation=causation when you recognize the implicit idea that tracking reproduces economic stratification.

The solution isn't going to be achieved by telling achieving students to waste their time; that still causes resentment and adverse school culture.

Perhaps a real solution is actually funding education instead of rambling on about socialism and revisionist history and whatever else bullshit is being drudged up as an excuse.

The other issue is this idea that we fundamentally have to cram more in. We really don't. If you're adhering to the banking model then you're just creating live action wikipedia. Now if you're actually teaching problem solving skills you only need to teach so much before they're able to handle knowledge on their own.

haven't demonstrated any useful skill besides being the best potential employee

You act like that wasn't the goal to start with. Then again, Gatto goes about five hundred steps further with that.

The goal of a good public educational system is not to uplift the few but intellectually and civic-ally empower the masses.

The problem is treating this like an either/or situation. Restructuring the system so that the very able have the ability to engage in material at their level--which arguable isn't all that hard to do if you don't pigeonhole them into the same work expectations--isn't going to take much. The problem is claiming that adding additional material on top of the low level course work is the same thing. Tutoring the same material is not the same as material at your level. And, when you do that, you free up more resources to spend on other students and you can bring it to them more at their level. Remember, we also want to be a scientifically and technologically competitive nation.

If you want to "intellectually"--fuck civic-ally jingoism--empower the masses the goal isn't rote knowledge but problem solving. Once somebody can educate themselves, all you really need to give them is a little guidance and access, something we're god awful about in k-12.


And quite frankly--one size fits all, as you're suggesting, isn't a very good idea. As I pointed out, objectively, students learned a hell of a lot less in my classroom because I was constantly attending to varied needs. Those at the bottom got left out just as much as those at the top because the spread is far too great. Had I just been dealing with low achievement, I could have definitely structured the class to really suit them--but I couldn't because there goes 2/3rds of the rest of the class. And let me tell you, if you're worried about school culture, I've listened to more than my fair share of student bitching about basically being used by lower achieving students and getting nothing out of it. Unless you have some inkling of how teaching is done, being thrust into that doesn't really net much more than frustration.

Furthermore, I have looked at the book, and I'm a little bit more concerned about her source material. One of the first papers I wrote in Grad School was on critical pedagogy, specifically on the issue of engaging students in socio-economic issues, which has quite a lot of overlap with the issue of students being disparately affected by economic class. There's not any reference to many of the major players, and it doesn't even look like she addresses the issue that the system itself is flawed, only the idea of tracking and how it supposes stratification.

I also find it rather ridiculous to point out that teacher attitudes are different but not suggest that perhaps the problem isn't with tracking, but rather our teachers and their training, which given the education majors' continued dominance of the lower end of the exit exam for universities, might in itself be a more prominent issue. And, again, from personal experience, they're not very well trained to handle diverse levels of ability in a more heterogeneous classroom either.

And I'm really not convinced of the tracking=perpetuation of race and socio-economic status conclusion. Until she can demonstrate that detracking will do the same: which, in my experience, really doesn't, I don't think it stands.

Do I think more of the resources need to go towards the underprivileged and less prepared students? Yes. Precisely because, if you do a better job of structuring the system those nearer the top need less resources because they've already the privilege of the skillset to use fewer resources and have a desire to do so. The problem is, pigeonholing them into the one size fits all idea doesn't allow them to do so.

Quite frankly, I don't think she's really covered her bases very well.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby eSOANEM » Wed May 25, 2011 9:20 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:And I'm really not convinced of the tracking=perpetuation of race and socio-economic status conclusion. Until she can demonstrate that detracking will do the same: which, in my experience, really doesn't, I don't think it stands.


Indeed. This is the sort of thing I meant when I said that the grammar school system (which, as I said earlier, seems to be quite similar to tracking albeit tracking into different schools instead of just different classes) in this country was blamed for a lack of social mobility, but in retrospect and seeing a massive dip in social mobility coinciding exactly with when you'd expect it to be if the grammar schools were propping up that social mobility.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Wed May 25, 2011 1:19 pm UTC

Zcorp, I apologize for doing this but... it's obvious that you were adequately challenged in a normal classroom setting. It may have been easy for you but were you ever so bored in class that you started crying? Because I was, multiple times per week, especially in middle school.

Also, I'd like to direct everyone to A Nation Deceived, put out in 2004.

Here are the "20 Most Important Points from Volume II": (spoilered for length)
Spoiler:
  • Acceleration is the most effective curriculum intervention for gifted children.
  • For bright students, acceleration has long-term beneficial effects, both academically and socially.
  • Acceleration is a virtually cost-free intervention.
  • Gifted children tend to be socially and emotionally more mature than their age-mates. For many bright students, acceleration provides a better personal maturity match with classmates.
  • When bright students are presented with curriculum developed for age-peers, they can become bored and unhappy and get turned off from learning.
  • Testing, especially above-level testing (using tests developed for older students), is highly effective in identifying students who would benefit from acceleration.
  • The evidence and mechanisms are available to help schools make good decisions about acceleration so that it is a low-risk/high-success intervention for qualified students. The Iowa Acceleration Scale is a proven, effective instrument for helping schools make decisions about whole-grade acceleration.
  • The 18 types of acceleration available to bright students fall into two broad categories: grade-based acceleration, which shortens the number of years a student spends in the K–12 system and subject-based acceleration, which allows for advanced content earlier than customary.
  • Entering school early is an excellent option for some gifted students both academically and socially. High ability young children who enroll early generally settle in smoothly with their older classmates.
  • Gifted students entering college early experience both short-term and long-term academic success, leading to long term occupational success and personal satisfaction.
  • Many alternatives to full-time early college entrance are available for bright high school students who prefer to stay with age-peers. These include dual enrollment in high school and college, distance education, and summer programs. Advanced
    Placement (AP) is the best large-scale option for bright students who want to take college-level courses in high school.
  • Very few early college entrants experience social or emotional difficulties. When these do occur they are usually short term and part of the adjustment process.
  • Radical acceleration (acceleration by two or more years) is effective academically and socially for highly gifted students.
  • Many educators have been largely negative about the practice of acceleration, despite abundant research evidence for its success and viability.
  • To encourage a major change in America’s perceptions of educational acceleration, we will need to use all the engines of change: legislation, the courts, administrative rules, and professional initiatives.
  • Effective implementation of accelerative options for gifted students with disabilities is time- and resource-intensive.
  • It is important for parents to be fully involved in the decision-making process about their child’s acceleration.
  • The few problems that have been experienced with acceleration have stemmed primarily from incomplete or poor planning.
  • Educational equity does not mean educational sameness. Equity respects individual differences in readiness to learn and recognizes the value of each student.
  • The key question for educators is not whether to accelerate a gifted learner but rather how.


I really want to highlight this point "Educational equity does not mean educational sameness. Equity respects individual differences in readiness to learn and recognizes the value of each student." The point of school is to learn and if you're not learning, because the material is too easy or too difficult, that's not fair.

As to Keeping Track, frankly I'm not impressed. I read all that was included in google books and from a pdf that was scanned online(see them here if you'd like) and the only thing I got out of it is that tracking can make the lower level students feel bad about themselves. While I completely agree that something needs to be done to fix remedial classes, I don't think that's an argument to hold academically advanced students behind.

There was one particular part of the book (pg 67-72, second link)where she took different quotes from teachers and students in high, average, and remedial classes. When asking the teachers what they wanted the students to learn, for the high level, they said they wanted them to be independent and to learn to think critically. For the remedial classes, they said they wanted them to learn to be respectful (aka, know when to shut up) and to turn work in on time. She took this as an absolute indication that teachers have different goals for remedial students. Well, duh! Students wouldn't be in the higher classes if they didn't know when to shut up (mostly) or when to turn in homework. Those come first, independence and critical thinking come later.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby eSOANEM » Wed May 25, 2011 1:59 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:Here are the "20 Most Important Points from Volume II": (spoilered for length)
Spoiler:
  • Acceleration is the most effective curriculum intervention for gifted children.
  • For bright students, acceleration has long-term beneficial effects, both academically and socially.
  • Acceleration is a virtually cost-free intervention.
  • Gifted children tend to be socially and emotionally more mature than their age-mates. For many bright students, acceleration provides a better personal maturity match with classmates.
  • When bright students are presented with curriculum developed for age-peers, they can become bored and unhappy and get turned off from learning.
  • Testing, especially above-level testing (using tests developed for older students), is highly effective in identifying students who would benefit from acceleration.
  • The evidence and mechanisms are available to help schools make good decisions about acceleration so that it is a low-risk/high-success intervention for qualified students. The Iowa Acceleration Scale is a proven, effective instrument for helping schools make decisions about whole-grade acceleration.
  • The 18 types of acceleration available to bright students fall into two broad categories: grade-based acceleration, which shortens the number of years a student spends in the K–12 system and subject-based acceleration, which allows for advanced content earlier than customary.
  • Entering school early is an excellent option for some gifted students both academically and socially. High ability young children who enroll early generally settle in smoothly with their older classmates.
  • Gifted students entering college early experience both short-term and long-term academic success, leading to long term occupational success and personal satisfaction.
  • Many alternatives to full-time early college entrance are available for bright high school students who prefer to stay with age-peers. These include dual enrollment in high school and college, distance education, and summer programs. Advanced
    Placement (AP) is the best large-scale option for bright students who want to take college-level courses in high school.
  • Very few early college entrants experience social or emotional difficulties. When these do occur they are usually short term and part of the adjustment process.
  • Radical acceleration (acceleration by two or more years) is effective academically and socially for highly gifted students.
  • Many educators have been largely negative about the practice of acceleration, despite abundant research evidence for its success and viability.
  • To encourage a major change in America’s perceptions of educational acceleration, we will need to use all the engines of change: legislation, the courts, administrative rules, and professional initiatives.
  • Effective implementation of accelerative options for gifted students with disabilities is time- and resource-intensive.
  • It is important for parents to be fully involved in the decision-making process about their child’s acceleration.
  • The few problems that have been experienced with acceleration have stemmed primarily from incomplete or poor planning.
  • Educational equity does not mean educational sameness. Equity respects individual differences in readiness to learn and recognizes the value of each student.
  • The key question for educators is not whether to accelerate a gifted learner but rather how.



In relation to these points , I think Zcorp was arguing that tracking is bad for year group as a whole (i.e. it has a negative effect on the lower students which is greater than the positive effect on the upper ones) rather than that tracking is detrimental to everyone (although I didn't read every post in complete detail, it was quite a long thread to read all in one go first thing in the morning). Assuming I've interpreted Zcorp correctly, none of those points really disprove his hypothesis (other than possibly the penultimate point that educational equity =/= educational sameness) as they relate solely to the gifted students.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Wed May 25, 2011 2:21 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
KestrelLowing wrote:Here are the "20 Most Important Points from Volume II": (spoilered for length)
Spoiler:
  • Acceleration is the most effective curriculum intervention for gifted children.
  • For bright students, acceleration has long-term beneficial effects, both academically and socially.
  • Acceleration is a virtually cost-free intervention.
  • Gifted children tend to be socially and emotionally more mature than their age-mates. For many bright students, acceleration provides a better personal maturity match with classmates.
  • When bright students are presented with curriculum developed for age-peers, they can become bored and unhappy and get turned off from learning.
  • Testing, especially above-level testing (using tests developed for older students), is highly effective in identifying students who would benefit from acceleration.
  • The evidence and mechanisms are available to help schools make good decisions about acceleration so that it is a low-risk/high-success intervention for qualified students. The Iowa Acceleration Scale is a proven, effective instrument for helping schools make decisions about whole-grade acceleration.
  • The 18 types of acceleration available to bright students fall into two broad categories: grade-based acceleration, which shortens the number of years a student spends in the K–12 system and subject-based acceleration, which allows for advanced content earlier than customary.
  • Entering school early is an excellent option for some gifted students both academically and socially. High ability young children who enroll early generally settle in smoothly with their older classmates.
  • Gifted students entering college early experience both short-term and long-term academic success, leading to long term occupational success and personal satisfaction.
  • Many alternatives to full-time early college entrance are available for bright high school students who prefer to stay with age-peers. These include dual enrollment in high school and college, distance education, and summer programs. Advanced
    Placement (AP) is the best large-scale option for bright students who want to take college-level courses in high school.
  • Very few early college entrants experience social or emotional difficulties. When these do occur they are usually short term and part of the adjustment process.
  • Radical acceleration (acceleration by two or more years) is effective academically and socially for highly gifted students.
  • Many educators have been largely negative about the practice of acceleration, despite abundant research evidence for its success and viability.
  • To encourage a major change in America’s perceptions of educational acceleration, we will need to use all the engines of change: legislation, the courts, administrative rules, and professional initiatives.
  • Effective implementation of accelerative options for gifted students with disabilities is time- and resource-intensive.
  • It is important for parents to be fully involved in the decision-making process about their child’s acceleration.
  • The few problems that have been experienced with acceleration have stemmed primarily from incomplete or poor planning.
  • Educational equity does not mean educational sameness. Equity respects individual differences in readiness to learn and recognizes the value of each student.
  • The key question for educators is not whether to accelerate a gifted learner but rather how.



In relation to these points , I think Zcorp was arguing that tracking is bad for year group as a whole (i.e. it has a negative effect on the lower students which is greater than the positive effect on the upper ones) rather than that tracking is detrimental to everyone (although I didn't read every post in complete detail, it was quite a long thread to read all in one go first thing in the morning). Assuming I've interpreted Zcorp correctly, none of those points really disprove his hypothesis (other than possibly the penultimate point that educational equity =/= educational sameness) as they relate solely to the gifted students.


And this is where it gets horribly unfair. *Sigh* These are the really big questions.

First off, does separating advanced students from the rest of the class actually have a negative affect on the lower performing students? Keeping Track seems to indicate it does, although I must admit I'm not convinced (the excerpts of the book that I read aren't terribly convincing and sometimes leap to conclusions - but that could be because I could only read the first couple chapters).

Second off, does keeping advanced students in normal classes have a negative affect? From A Nation Deceived and from personal experience, yes.

So, assuming that taking out the advanced students and keeping them in are both harmful, but to different groups of people, who do we hurt? Do we hurt the struggling children who need to understand this material to function in the world? Or do we hurt those who will likely be the next generation of scientists, politicians, doctors, authors, and engineers?

I don't know. Of course my knee-jerk reaction is to say that gifted education is more important, but that's simply because I was in that group. It seems as if the gifted students would produce the most (economic) value to society, but what kind of society are we if just abandon those that need the most help?

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby eSOANEM » Wed May 25, 2011 4:31 pm UTC

True. Like you though, I'm certainly not convinced that it does harm the lower students, but then my evidence is based entirely on this side of the pond so might not be transferable.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 5:13 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:The solution isn't going to be achieved by telling achieving students to waste their time; that still causes resentment and adverse school culture.
This evidence we have displays less negative emotional effects on the students and culture in general. I'm also not suggesting we tell advanced students to waste their time. I'm saying we shouldn't segregate them and allocated more resources to them.

Perhaps a real solution is actually funding education instead of rambling on about socialism and revisionist history and whatever else bullshit is being drudged up as an excuse.
Again, I'll mention that we spend more per capita. We also have a much harder culture to educate for a variety of reasons, but still much of the problem is how the money is being used. Thats not to say that the educational cuts we have seen don't hurt the system. But just throwing more and more money at the system hasn't worked in the past and until we fix it so money can be efficiently used it won't in the future. There is a lot that could and should be done, all of which I'd love to discuss, although it should probably be different topic.

The other issue is this idea that we fundamentally have to cram more in. We really don't. If you're adhering to the banking model then you're just creating live action wikipedia. Now if you're actually teaching problem solving skills you only need to teach so much before they're able to handle knowledge on their own.
Each field is getting significantly more technical and our average day we are interacting with significantly more technical things. That requires teaching more basic knowledge, for example how to make a program output "Hello World!" or gaining some experience with spreadsheets is becoming a standard experience in many non-public schools for good reason.

The problem is treating this like an either/or situation.
Aye, my mistake in rhetoric. Creating a technically and vocationally proficient populace is of course important as well, and doing so is generally requiring basic knowledge in more areas as mentioned above.

And quite frankly--one size fits all, as you're suggesting, isn't a very good idea. As I pointed out, objectively, students learned a hell of a lot less in my classroom because I was constantly attending to varied needs. Those at the bottom got left out just as much as those at the top because the spread is far too great. Had I just been dealing with low achievement, I could have definitely structured the class to really suit them--but I couldn't because there goes 2/3rds of the rest of the class. And let me tell you, if you're worried about school culture, I've listened to more than my fair share of student bitching about basically being used by lower achieving students and getting nothing out of it. Unless you have some inkling of how teaching is done, being thrust into that doesn't really net much more than frustration.
I'm not saying one size fits all. Again we are discussing a very specific aspect of one the problems within our system. Individualized instruction, learning styles psychometrics, greater student-teacher and student-student bonding, student proficiency tracking etc etc will also further improve the system.

However, our system does improve by just removing Tracking. I'm not saying that is the only thing that should be and needs to be done. I'm stating it is one of the things that will help us.

I also find it rather ridiculous to point out that teacher attitudes are different but not suggest that perhaps the problem isn't with tracking, but rather our teachers and their training, which given the education majors' continued dominance of the lower end of the exit exam for universities, might in itself be a more prominent issue. And, again, from personal experience, they're not very well trained to handle diverse levels of ability in a more heterogeneous classroom either.
Teacher training is of course a problem, that is only slightly related to the economic, psychological, and sociological impact on school culture with Tracking.

Teacher training should improve and we should remove Tracking.


KestrelLowing wrote:Zcorp, I apologize for doing this but... it's obvious that you were adequately challenged in a normal classroom setting.
How do you deduce that? Aside from being incorrect how do you perceive this to be relevant to the discussion? I got into working with educational systems because of how inefficient they are and how frustrated I am with them, including how much they failed me.

It may have been easy for you but were you ever so bored in class that you started crying? Because I was, multiple times per week, especially in middle school.
No, and as mentioned there are a great number of ways to challenge the advanced students within the classroom. I'm not excusing horrible teachers that created that effect, the previous teachers that didn't teach you how to use that time to teach yourself or otherwise be useful and I'd imagine your parents and the school counselor that didn't know what to do about it if this lasted any length of time.

Behavior like this is indicative of the lack of socialization that I've mentioned. Scarcity is something everyone, especially in a public system, has to deal with not just those that have been failed by the system or their mentors.

Also, I'd like to direct everyone to A Nation Deceived, put out in 2004.
And again I'll state a public teacher's job can't and shouldn't be to pander to the top 10% of less. If it is than our system fails.

I really want to highlight this point "Educational equity does not mean educational sameness. Equity respects individual differences in readiness to learn and recognizes the value of each student." The point of school is to learn and if you're not learning, because the material is too easy or too difficult, that's not fair.
But it is fair to allocate the better teachers to the more advanced students and/or place individuals in an average or below average Track for not turning homework in, being born the wrong time of year, having non-optimal cognitive development or many other bad reasons that people get Tracked to where they are with little opportunity for mobility out of that track? Or that it is fair to negatively impact the culture of the school to deal with a kid who can't think of how to teach himself or talk with his teacher about how to learn more advanced things in class time?

the only thing I got out of it is that tracking can make the lower level students feel bad about themselves. While I completely agree that something needs to be done to fix remedial classes, I don't think that's an argument to hold academically advanced students behind.
It makes students feel bad, it makes teaches treat them poorly, it retards the growth of many students who could be covering much of the same material as the advanced students but where never given the opportunity to enter the Gifted program and does relatively little for the Gifted students except makes them feel better about themselves.

There was one particular part of the book (pg 67-72, second link)where she took different quotes from teachers and students in high, average, and remedial classes. When asking the teachers what they wanted the students to learn, for the high level, they said they wanted them to be independent and to learn to think critically. For the remedial classes, they said they wanted them to learn to be respectful (aka, know when to shut up) and to turn work in on time. She took this as an absolute indication that teachers have different goals for remedial students. Well, duh! Students wouldn't be in the higher classes if they didn't know when to shut up (mostly) or when to turn in homework. Those come first, independence and critical thinking come later.

The response of "Well, duh!" is the entire problem. The students get treated differently because of the teacher perception of the class behavior not because the class behavior is significantly different. Which is the point she is making.

And turning in homework shouldn't be perceived to mean and does not mean that that student is smarter or more capable.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen » Wed May 25, 2011 5:38 pm UTC

So, I'm not sure if I got this totally correct, but Zcorp's idea is that from k-12, all students not matter their intelligence levels or ability or whatever would learn the exact same thing? While everyone is jumping the gun and saying that it is unfair to the gifted children, what about the resource room children? Are we going to have separate tracks for them? Or are they going to be the basis for what average and above average children learn? I am not trying to offend anyone, but there were some students who were seniors in high school learning math that I learned in grade school. There is just too wide of a gap for everyone to learn the same thing at the same level at the same time. And if schools are willing to make separate tracks for below average students, why shouldn't they make separate tracks for above average students?
Unless I completely misunderstood this plan, in which case please correct me, but this just sounds awful, unproductive and it seems like it will give private schools who are not forced to utilize this ridiculous system or who have the option of not letting in average or below average students an advantage when it comes to higher education.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 5:40 pm UTC

freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen wrote: There is just too wide of a gap for everyone to learn the same thing at the same level at the same time. And if schools are willing to make separate tracks for below average students, why shouldn't they make separate tracks for above average students?

Part of the reason for that gap in high school was due to Tracking students in earlier grades...
And I've given you a lot of reasons for why there shouldn't be separate Tracks.

Oh and almost none of the most successful private schools Track and none of the big name in charter schools Track. Sure they have selection bias, but it this is compelling evidence the problem is largely environmental.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Mokele » Wed May 25, 2011 6:04 pm UTC

So is your objection to "tracking" mostly based on low mobility after initial placement?

What about non-tracked systems that still have different levels, such as my second HS? There was no gifted vs non-gifted, just a regular, honors, and sometimes AP version of a given class. IIRC, there wasn't even a restriction on who could sign up for what, though if you take a class beyond your ability and fail, you've still got to repeat it if it's required to graduate (though not necessarily at that level). It allowed mobility, but also specialization (because I wasn't stuck at a high level, I could avoid AP art while focusing on AP biology).
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Wed May 25, 2011 6:18 pm UTC

One thing I want to make clear is that the advanced 'track' is actually doing more advanced material - it's not the same class just with a bunch of 'smart people'.

Zcorp wrote:This evidence we have displays less negative emotional effects on the students and culture in general. I'm also not suggesting we tell advanced students to waste their time. I'm saying we shouldn't segregate them and allocated more resources to them.

So we shouldn't allocate additional resources towards bringing up the bottom of the class either, right? We shouldn't spend that huge amount of money on students with handicaps, both physical and mental, or learning disabilities? The majority of money is spent on the average student, as it should be because there are the most average students. A good portion goes to specialty programs for handicapped students. Why shouldn't some money also be allocated for the other end of the spectrum?

Zcorp wrote:
KestrelLowing wrote:Zcorp, I apologize for doing this but... it's obvious that you were adequately challenged in a normal classroom setting.
How do you deduce that? Aside from being incorrect how do you perceive this to be relevant to the discussion? I got into working with educational systems because of how inefficient they are and how frustrated I am with them, including how much they failed me.

It may have been easy for you but were you ever so bored in class that you started crying? Because I was, multiple times per week, especially in middle school.
No, and as mentioned there are a great number of ways the challenge the advanced students within the classroom. I'm not excusing horrible teachers that created that effect, the previous teachers that didn't teach you how to use that time to teach yourself or otherwise be useful and I'd imagine your parents and the school counselor that didn't know what to do about it if this lasted any length of time.

Behavior like this is indicative of the lack of socialization that I've mentioned. Scarcity is something everyone, especially in a public system, has to deal with not just those that have been failed by the system or their mentors.


The main reason I personally attacked you is that I cannot see how anyone who was not at all challenged in class could even begin to say that to put everyone in the same pot is the best. Like I said, I've been through many, many different kinds of gifted/accelerated programs. I know I am only one person and I do not make data, but back of the classroom/extra work doesn't work or create a good learning experience.

Teachers do not have enough time to cater to so many levels in one class. This means that everyone gets the lecture, the extra time the teacher had is spent with the remedial students, and then time is spent on the average students because thanks to No Child Left Behind, the only thing that matters now is getting everyone to the most basic level of understanding. Because the advanced students typically already know the material or have mastered it, they don't get any time with the teacher at all. It's not the teacher's fault! It's simply that they don't have enough time. That is rectified by splitting up classes.

Zcorp wrote:
Also, I'd like to direct everyone to A Nation Deceived, put out in 2004.
And again I'll state a public teacher's job can't and shouldn't be to pander to the top 10% of less. If it is than our system fails.

But why shouldn't 10% of the teachers be allocated to pander to the top 10%? In America, public schools are funded based on the number of students. Why shouldn't the money and the teachers time be allocated too? It's not like I want the gifted program to be over-funded - just the amount that is typically required to educate the same number of students.

Zcorp wrote:
I really want to highlight this point "Educational equity does not mean educational sameness. Equity respects individual differences in readiness to learn and recognizes the value of each student." The point of school is to learn and if you're not learning, because the material is too easy or too difficult, that's not fair.
But it is fair to allocate the better teachers to the more advanced students and/or place individuals in an average or below average Track for not turning homework in, being born the wrong time of year, having non-optimal cognitive development or many other bad reasons that people get Tracked to where they are with little opportunity for mobility out of that track? Or that it is fair to negatively impact the culture of the school to deal with a kid who can't think of how to teach himself or talk with his teacher about how to learn more advanced things in class time?


I'm trying very hard not to yell and scream at you right now. Erg! Gifted students are not necessarily geniuses! They need help too and they deserve teacher time as well. Also, academic giftedness doesn't mean that they are able to discipline themselves to actually do work. Just like you wouldn't expect a typical child to go out of their way to learn algebra, you shouldn't expect that of a gifted kid. Some will, but the majority won't!

I don't want a system where people can't move between tracks, but obviously at some point a student won't be able to move up a track because they will be too far behind. Still, if they cannot complete the material (either too immature or having non-optimal cognitive development) or don't turn in their homework (I realize there are extenuating circumstances, but how on earth are you supposed to know if a student understands when they don't turn anything in?) they shouldn't be placed in an advanced class.

The current tracking system of course needs refinement. A tracking system where you can't go up to the next track is a problem and something needs to be done to fix that. What, I'm not exactly sure. However, realistically, some students will always outperform others when it comes to certain subjects.

I'm also a big proponent of advancing students in some areas and not others. Some people are really good at math but suck at other things. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be placed in advanced math and remedial English. Also, if this was allowed, age wouldn't be a problem. Students would be able to be in the correct grade level and complexity right for them.

Zcorp wrote:
the only thing I got out of it is that tracking can make the lower level students feel bad about themselves. While I completely agree that something needs to be done to fix remedial classes, I don't think that's an argument to hold academically advanced students behind.
It makes students feel bad, it makes teaches treat them poorly, it retards the growth of many students who could be covering much of the same material as the advanced students but where never given the opportunity to enter the Gifted program and does relatively little for the Gifted students except makes them feel better about themselves.

I'll agree with you on most points except for the Gifted students feel better about themselves. Is there some satisfaction in being in the gifted program? Yes. Is that the only reason? HELL NO! It's about learning material at a correct pace.

As to the other points, big reform needs to happen in the lower levels. There are very few students who aren't capable of learning the material in the typical classroom, they just need a bit more help. Having divided classrooms can help with that. If teachers treat lower level students poorly, well that's just a bad teacher. That's evidently ok if they're dealing with an advanced student.

Zcorp wrote:
There was one particular part of the book (pg 67-72, second link)where she took different quotes from teachers and students in high, average, and remedial classes. When asking the teachers what they wanted the students to learn, for the high level, they said they wanted them to be independent and to learn to think critically. For the remedial classes, they said they wanted them to learn to be respectful (aka, know when to shut up) and to turn work in on time. She took this as an absolute indication that teachers have different goals for remedial students. Well, duh! Students wouldn't be in the higher classes if they didn't know when to shut up (mostly) or when to turn in homework. Those come first, independence and critical thinking come later.

The response of "Well, duh!" is entire problem. The students get treated differently because of the teacher perception of the class behavior not because the class behavior is significantly different. Which is the point she is making.

And turning in homework shouldn't be perceived to mean and does not mean that that student is smarter or more capable.


Can you show something that shows that the behavior isn't different? Having been in both typical and advanced classrooms, I can tell you immediately that the atmosphere is different. Perhaps partly because of the teacher, but I do think it's mostly because of the students. Still, in order to effectively learn anything, the classroom needs to be under control. That means learning those crucial skills of time management and how to sit still first.

And homework is a huge part of school. If you don't turn in homework, how can you be evaluated? Everyone hates the fact already that evaluation is done mostly by tests. It doesn't mean they're smarter, but it does mean they're more capable of functioning in the real world. Homework is very much like having a job in the real world. You get it done, or you suffer the consequences.

Zcorp wrote:
freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen wrote: There is just too wide of a gap for everyone to learn the same thing at the same level at the same time. And if schools are willing to make separate tracks for below average students, why shouldn't they make separate tracks for above average students?

Part of the reason for that gap in high school was due to Tracking students in earlier grades...
And I've given you a lot of reasons for why there shouldn't be separate Tracks.

Oh and almost none of the most successful private schools Track and none of the big name in charter schools Track. Sure they have selection bias, but it this is compelling evidence the problem is largely environmental.


Actually, I don't think you've given very good evidence as to why not tracking is good for all students. Also, you need to realize that some students will never be as fast as others. It sucks, but it's true. I totally believe that all students can do more than is currently expected of them, but some will always be a bit further ahead.

The reason private schools don't track? All their students are at the same high level - they wouldn't let them in otherwise.

With respect to private schools, if you're very concerned about equality, think about the number of recent presidents who have attended public schools. The most likely reason they're president is of course being independently wealthy, but education has a lot to do with it too. Tons of presidents went to Harvard. How did they get there? They were in challenging programs. Basically, we don't trust our public school system to educate our future president. There's something wrong with that.

EDIT:
Sorry, one more thing. With respect to having the best teachers teach advanced classes:
Everyone would prefer to teach advanced classes. It's more fun, more engaging, the students seem to want to be there. The better teachers/senior teachers will usually get to have a bit more say in what they get to do. But, by the same token, do the remedial students deserve the best teachers? Overall, teachers come from the bottom third of the class (once again, that just doesn't seem right!) and I think that's the main reason there are such horrible teachers. Do some students deserve better teachers than others? No. The real question here is do some teachers deserve better students than others? After all, you wouldn't have expected Bach to tutor a tone-deaf student.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby jmorgan3 » Wed May 25, 2011 7:13 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Oh and almost none of the most successful private schools Track and none of the big name in charter schools Track. Sure they have selection bias, but it this is compelling evidence the problem is largely environmental.

None of them offer AP classes? Cite please?
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby jawdisorder » Wed May 25, 2011 7:19 pm UTC

Just figured I'd add my school experiences.

Elementary (k-4 for me) was the standard single classroom for all subjects except there was a very small program for accelerated math students that required them to take a test to get into. That was in a separate classroom with students from various classes (normal classrooms would do math during the time that we were gone). I will admit that was weird at time for me just leaving in the middle of class in elementary school.

Intermediate and middle school (5-6 and 7-8 respectively) classes were divided by subject but everyone was still in the same classes together regardless, with math still being the exception. The advanced math students would just have class with the students the grade above, using no extra teacher resources or class time mind you. Around 7th grade everyone had an opportunity to be further advanced. The students that were already a grade ahead were able to take a test to advance another grade (this also depended partly on teacher recommendation) and those in the normal sequence were able to do the same after which they would be placed in an advanced level class that would put them a grade ahead going into high school.

Going into high school there was yet another test that students could take with teacher recommendation to be able to skip the freshman general science classes so that they would effectively be a grade ahead in science. All students that were advanced in high school just took the classes with the upperclassmen so it required no additional teachers and for the most part people in the same classes were more on par with one another so that the teaching didn't need to cater to any particular level too heavily. Freshman and sophomore years everyone was in the same English and history classes but beginning junior year they started to be divided into general/honors/AP levels where everyone was able to make their own choice as to which level class they wanted to take. For the most part no one begrudged anyone else for being in a higher level class because it was partly their choice/ability that put them where they were and they were okay with it. There was also definitely not any teacher favoritism with the "better" teachers teaching the higher level classes. My BC Calc teacher was also a freshman algebra teacher and the AP Economics teacher was pretty much universally accepted to be a terrible teacher. Many people's favorite teachers from high school were the teachers of the mid- or lower-level classes.

I am highly thankful for the system that my school was able to provide and I don't think I would have even 10% of the drive I currently have in college if it weren't for the opportunity to take the honors and AP classes that I was able to during high school. I had several friends that despite their best efforts were barely able to pass their required math classes but at the same time were able to get a very rewarding experience out of either the music, language, social studies, or technical classes that were available to them.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 7:30 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:So we shouldn't allocate additional resources towards bringing up the bottom of the class either, right? We shouldn't spend that huge amount of money on students with handicaps, both physical and mental, or learning disabilities? The majority of money is spent on the average student, as it should be because there are the most average students. A good portion goes to specialty programs for handicapped students. Why shouldn't some money also be allocated for the other end of the spectrum?
No need to put words in my mouth. There is a lot of money or other resources spent on children with Autism or other very significant disabilities, but no we shouldn't Track students that are behind as it displays lower efficacy in getting those students to 'average' levels. The reason that money shouldn't be allocated to segregate the more proficient from the majority is still because it hurts the system as a whole.

The main reason I personally attacked you is that I cannot see how anyone who was not at all challenged in class could even begin to say that to put everyone in the same pot is the best. Like I said, I've been through many, many different kinds of gifted/accelerated programs. I know I am only one person and I do not make data, but back of the classroom/extra work doesn't work or create a good learning experience.
Almost the entire process is in public school is a pretty poor learning experience. Tracking students is one way the makes the learning experience worse. I've also stated numerous times that just giving you extra work in the back of the class is not at all what I'm talking about. I've given you a few different examples of what teachers have successfully done with advanced students.

Teachers do not have enough time to cater to so many levels in one class. This means that everyone gets the lecture, the extra time the teacher had is spent with the remedial students, and then time is spent on the average students because thanks to No Child Left Behind, the only thing that matters now is getting everyone to the most basic level of understanding. Because the advanced students typically already know the material or have mastered it, they don't get any time with the teacher at all. It's not the teacher's fault! It's simply that they don't have enough time. That is rectified by splitting up classes.
So it would appear I'm either not making my self clear or you are failing to understand the systemic effect of what we are discussing.

There are lots of problems in education, it isn't a great system. The goal of it's designers has to be to create the most success for the most people (unless you want to disagree with this). When it is found that splitting up the classes creates less success for most people not splitting up the classes is the only reasonable action. For students that have mastered the material there are a lot of options that teachers have and those students have. One of those options would be to help the teacher with the students that don't yet grasp the concepts. This allows those students to evaluate and analyze that knowledge in addition to just applying it, it will also free up teacher time and allow the class to progress further within the time frame of the course. It will assist those individuals who are generally quite poor at some general socializations skills develop them. They also likely make those students feel uncomfortable, about as uncomfortable as the students who are adept at those skills trying to learn math. This would achieve the goal of providing the most success to the most people, give life skills beyond the academic ones to the advanced academic students and allow the teacher more time to work with the advanced students as they are helping with the remedial and average students.

You didn't like the option of helping your fellow students, I then suggested various options of what students like you can do and what teachers can do to work with those students.

But why shouldn't 10% of the teachers be allocated to pander to the top 10%? In America, public schools are funded based on the number of students. Why shouldn't the money and the teachers time be allocated too? It's not like I want the gifted program to be over-funded - just the amount that is typically required to educate the same number of students.
Teacher's are a scarce resource, good teachers even scarcer. As are non-crowded classrooms, time planning outside of the classroom, money for multiple text books etc. Beyond that 10% of those resources can't easily or really fairly be allocated to the top 10% it also negatively affects the environment as a whole...still.

I don't want a system where people can't move between tracks, but obviously at some point a student won't be able to move up a track because they will be too far behind. Still, if they cannot complete the material (either too immature or having non-optimal cognitive development) or don't turn in their homework (I realize there are extenuating circumstances, but how on earth are you supposed to know if a student understands when they don't turn anything in?) they shouldn't be placed in an advanced class.
So if I'm a student that enters high school into the standard math classes but may have been capable of being in a advanced Tracked program but was not. I then spend the year in the normal program excel at it and plan on going to the advanced one next year. Upon trying to test in or otherwise try to indicate preparedness for the advanced Track I find out that I'm not prepared and I'm likely not prepared because I wasn't in the advanced Track last year. What should I or teachers do?

I'm also a big proponent of advancing students in some areas and not others. Some people are really good at math but suck at other things. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be placed in advanced math and remedial English. Also, if this was allowed, age wouldn't be a problem. Students would be able to be in the correct grade level and complexity right for them.
What happens to the students that were maybe a bit slow to develop and are highly social and have close bonds with many of their classmates. Would you hold them back if they weren't strong in math while their peer group moves forward? What happens removing them from their peers kills their motivation to learn math, their respect and cooperation for their teachers and the system as a whole? What do you do then?

I'll agree with you on most points except for the Gifted students feel better about themselves. Is there some satisfaction in being in the gifted program? Yes. Is that the only reason? HELL NO! It's about learning material at a correct pace.
Who said it was the only reason? Please lets avoid fallacies.

As to the other points, big reform needs to happen in the lower levels. There are very few students who aren't capable of learning the material in the typical classroom, they just need a bit more help. Having divided classrooms can help with that. If teachers treat lower level students poorly, well that's just a bad teacher. That's evidently ok if they're dealing with an advanced student.
One thing that helps them is not Tracking the advanced students, so divided classrooms hurts them it does not help them.

Humans have biases, we have biases that we are blind to. Part of it is teacher training and part of it is that we are people prone to mistakes. Building a system around us that reduces the severity and frequency of those mistakes is useful, teachers are not exempt from that.

Can you show something that shows that the behavior isn't different? Having been in both typical and advanced classrooms, I can tell you immediately that the atmosphere is different. Perhaps partly because of the teacher, but I do think it's mostly because of the students. Still, in order to effectively learn anything, the classroom needs to be under control. That means learning those crucial skills of time management and how to sit still first.
Beyond that the book's own studies those referenced within the book and various others have specifically looked at this, I suppose not.

And homework is a huge part of school. If you don't turn in homework, how can you be evaluated? Everyone hates the fact already that evaluation is done mostly by tests. It doesn't mean they're smarter, but it does mean they're more capable of functioning in the real world. Homework is very much like having a job in the real world. You get it done, or you suffer the consequences.
Well...in class work, tests, if the student can tutor other students effectively and projects they are utilizing that knowledge for I guess not much.

Homework is nothing like the 'real world', unfortunate that it is a perception that is common. Homework tries to create interiorization, forces students to find the end of their knowledge and struggle with things they have yet to fully grasp, punishes those who haven't learned it yet and has fake oppressive consequences. On a job most people are using skills repeatedly that they've already developed. Having traditional homework even very arguably impeds student growth not enhances it. Throwing out homework is one of the large debates about school reform.

Actually, I don't think you've given very good evidence as to why not tracking is good for all students. Also, you need to realize that some students will never be as fast as others. It sucks, but it's true. I totally believe that all students can do more than is currently expected of them, but some will always be a bit further ahead.
I could write you an entire book on research and arguments and the history of the system...or I could link you to one that was already written.

The reason private schools don't track? All their students are at the same high level - they wouldn't let them in otherwise.
Well I hope you don't honeslty think that all private school students are at the same level. Even if they were it is an argument in my favor as if they don't Track and all students are of the same level then non-Tracking is assisting in achieving something that public schools can't. What about charter schools that do take kids from the worst part of the public system and get them up to grade level and beyond without Tracking?
Last edited by Zcorp on Wed May 25, 2011 7:49 pm UTC, edited 5 times in total.

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nehpest
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby nehpest » Wed May 25, 2011 7:32 pm UTC

Just to throw in my two cents on the OP's question:

My elementary school had a gifted program called EAGLE, which I was placed in roughly when I was 2nd grade. It met once every 6-day cycle for an afternoon, and we mostly did enrichment-type activities: lateral thinking, word puzzles, things like that. We also had, beginning in third grade, differentiated reading groups; in a given classroom, there would be three or four reading groups, segregated by ability/performance, and the teacher would spend a class period with each group while the others worked on reading assignments. I won't call this "tracking" as there was a great deal of mobility between groups: every few weeks, the groups would be tested on the material in their book, and those who were under-challenged would move up to the next group, while those who were struggling would move down to the next-lower group. It wasn't made clear to the students that one group was "smarter" or "dumber" than the others, but it's plain to see looking back as an adult.

My middle school was "tracked" only for math classes; all other subjects were completely undifferentiated. I was in the "advanced" math group, and I was bored out of my mind all three years.

In high school, we had a situation similar to a college: everyone in 9th grade would enroll in, e.g., 9th grade social studies, and they would have the choice to enroll in "Technical", "Academic", or "Honors" versions. This choice was up to the students, but you had to test into the honors class. If you did well in 9th grade honors social studies, you were encouraged to enroll in the 10th grade honors SS class. If you did poorly, you were encouraged (but not forced) to enroll in the academic class - again, you could test into the honors class to override this consideration. By 11th and 12th grade, course selection was a bit looser, in that you chose your own schedule: you could do Biology 1 (in academic and technical versions) and Chemistry 1 (sim.) in the same year, if you so chose. If you took and passed Bio 1, you could enroll in Bio 2, which counted as an honors class automatically; there were no academic or technical versions of the advanced science classes. I ended up taking honors math classes all four years, and every science class offered save Earth Science 2. Other students took varying loads of other traditional high school classes, including a wide array of home ec and "industrial tech" (wood and machine shop) classes. The only AP courses my school offered were AP Composition, AP Calc AB, and AP Psych; we had an "Honors Calculus 2" that was equivalent to AP Calc BC, but we weren't allowed to take the BC exam :roll:

Also, my high school had an arrangement with the county's vocation and technical school; students who chose this option would spend half-days at the VoTech during their junior year, and full days there during senior year. They would complete the minimum academic load needed to graduate in Pennsylvania, and then spend the rest of their time pursuing vocational programs (culinary, auto shop, and computer tech were a few of the programs). This program was not seen as "dumber" than the honors courses, but was aimed at preparing them for immediate entry into the workforce, as opposed to college. Entry was fairly competitive, IIRC.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Kurushimi » Wed May 25, 2011 7:48 pm UTC

@Zcorp:
I don't think saying the best private schools don't do tracking is a good defense. The selection bias which you casually waved off as not significant enough to have a large impact probably has a pretty large impact. Private school students are often more motivated (At least, if they're smart enough to not completely blow several thousands of dollars of their parents money. =/), which reduces the need for tracking as their wouldn't be as many lazy kids slowing down the progress of the smart and motivated.

Also, the small class sizes would probably make tracking more costly than it's worth and there might end up like 1 or 2 kids in the "gifted" class. For example, I know a sophomore who is currently taking BC Calculus. Lucky for him, our school offers Calc III, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra to advanced math students. Unlucky for him, there are so few students both able and willing to take these classes next year that they won't even offer all of them. I imagine the smaller sizes of private and charter schools have a bit of an impact on their decision to offer gifted programs.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 7:55 pm UTC

Kurushimi wrote:@Zcorp:
I don't think saying the best private schools don't do tracking is a good defense. The selection bias which you casually waved off as not significant enough to have a large impact probably has a pretty large impact. Private school students are often more motivated (At least, if they're smart enough to not completely blow several thousands of dollars of their parents money. =/), which reduces the need for tracking as their wouldn't be as many lazy kids slowing down the progress of the smart and motivated.
Selection bias is certainly relevant and a part of the equation.

As is private schools doing a better job of cultivating motivation and interest in students and building a sense of community with them, so less of them are just 'lazy kids.'

By the time a student gets to high school if they are disinterested, aggressive toward and not cooperative with the system how much of that do you think is the fault of his previous experience within it? It seems quite foolish to blame the kid rather than the conditions that created his behavior, and doing so does nothing to help improve our schools.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen » Wed May 25, 2011 8:44 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen wrote: There is just too wide of a gap for everyone to learn the same thing at the same level at the same time. And if schools are willing to make separate tracks for below average students, why shouldn't they make separate tracks for above average students?

Part of the reason for that gap in high school was due to Tracking students in earlier grades...
And I've given you a lot of reasons for why there shouldn't be separate Tracks.

Oh and almost none of the most successful private schools Track and none of the big name in charter schools Track. Sure they have selection bias, but it this is compelling evidence the problem is largely environmental.


I'm pretty sure its BS to think that a student is taking elementary math in high school just because he was put on a certain track earlier in his school life, but I was referring more towards specials needs students who are pretty much incapable of learning more advanced topics in different subjects. How will this blanket education system work with them? Will this system cater to the lowest common denominator of learning or will it try to get those resource room students up to a level that might be impossible for them?
Also, what is your opinion on elective classes in high school, like art, cs, architecture? Or does your no track, everyone is in the same class for everything end in grade school?

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Meem1029 » Wed May 25, 2011 8:49 pm UTC

Well, time for me to pop in with my experience. I'll be interested in hearing what you have to say about this zcorp.

In 6th grade I took a test that allowed me entry into a program through our state university that taught high school math at an advanced pace to junior high students. In 7th grade I took Algebra 1 and 2 and in 8th grade I took Geometry and Pre-calc. In 9th grade I stopped this program to do school activities, but was able to take AP Physics because of my math background. My friend (also a freshman who was in the program) did as well. We were the only two who scored passing grades on the tests. I then went through high school taking just about every AP available to me. My senior year (this year) I did a program that allowed me to go to college a year early and earn both hs and college credits. I chose to actually go to a college and stay on campus like a normal freshman through this program. This last semester I took a 300 level math class on Complex Variables. I was the only freshman in this class. I was also taking Physics for majors and was tutoring people in physics (even though I am a year younger). These advanced classes are probably the only reason I even care about school very much currently. I was starting to get bored even in some of these classes because I got the material quickly. I don't want to know what it would have been like in High School my senior year (I had to plan a schedule in case something went wrong. I chose all AP classes and then had to find some more even.)

The way I see it, you are arguing against this sort of thing. I have to ask whose best interests you have in mind. According to the plan you propose, I would have been stuck in basic level classes that would be even more trivial for me than most of my classes have been this year. If that had happened, I would almost certainly have developed apathy towards school because of being given absolutely no motivation for putting in effort.

Edit: And as far as helping people goes, who do you think my helping helped more: The guy on my floor who struggled with physics/calc sometimes due to his high school background but was extremely motivated and put in tons of hours studying, or the kids at my high school who don't care about math and aren't going to put effort in? I know who I think my help was more useful to.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Wed May 25, 2011 9:54 pm UTC

Meem1029 wrote:The way I see it, you are arguing against this sort of thing. I have to ask whose best interests you have in mind. According to the plan you propose, I would have been stuck in basic level classes that would be even more trivial for me than most of my classes have been this year. If that had happened, I would almost certainly have developed apathy towards school because of being given absolutely no motivation for putting in effort.
I think that sounds amazing and like a wonderful opportunity for development for you. I've encouraged teachers informing students how to teach themselves, I've provided links to some of the most significant free resources for students to do so and I think such academic success is valuable and important.

My concerns are for students like you but school designers can't be just concerned with students like you. Much has to change in our system, and with limited resources hard choices have to be made. Striving to meet our current standard level of success (that is quite low, narrow and bad) isn't even being done. Students have been blamed, teachers have been blamed, parents have been blamed, school administration has been blamed but very little has been done. Those that have succeed continually at meeting this standard level of success consistently do a variety of things. One of those things is reducing Tracking programs, it is not the only thing that can or should be done, one would be school uniforms, or removing grades, training teachers on Ed tech, training teachers on techniques for student bonding and community building, increasing class time, increasing the length of the school day, making school year round, empowering schools to make their own financial decisions...I can go on for a while. Everyone of those options has an opportunity cost, uniforms increase community strength and reduce some barriers to student-student bonding as well have have an organizational psychological affect, and it is criticized for threatening student individuality, creativity and expression. Economically or politically many of these things are impractical, removing Tracking programs is one of few options that not only improves the success of most students it saves schools time and money. Not to mention assist/forces the academically inclined to develop other skills as well, and doesn't even have a significant impact, and statistically often no impact, on the advanced students if done well.

The goal isn't to hold back academic achievers, it is to create the most success for the most students. I've suggested various things to work with them to continuing their growth, and they statistically need it spurred in areas other than just academics, and the response here has been anti-social and anti-community an attitude that is wonderfully American in the worst way. From some of the most privileged and gifted individuals within our public system we've heard 'It's not my job to help the teacher or fellow students,' 'but what about my growth isn't that important,' 'why aren't my needs being met.' Talk about an utter failure of our systems ability to create civically and ethically minded individuals. The goal of a society is to improve the well-being of its individuals and the responsibility of a individual within that society is to perpetuate the the society's ability to do so and improve its ability to do so (and engage in some level of civil disobedience or activism when it is failing at its goal). When the well-being of the majority population is impacted in a relatively significant way to improve the well-being of the minority population; society and empowered individuals are failing to meet their responsibilities and goals.

But believe me I'm not trying to fault those academically successful students, they've been thrust into a system where jumping through hoops has been sold to them as success and the competition to do so is extreme. We have admissions workers at Harvard looking at a single position open with hundreds of applicants all with 4.0+ GPA near perfect SAT/ACT and a laundry list of extra circulars. Yes, educational leaders are concerned and should be concerned with advanced academic students they just can't be and shouldn't be their only or primary concern.

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby nehpest » Wed May 25, 2011 11:01 pm UTC

I spent 2 years of my college career tutoring disadvantaged students at a community college, specifically, those in California's EOPS program: they are first generation students, or they barely speak English, or they are coming back to school after years in the workforce (during which time many of them forgot most of the academic skills they once had). The students represented a very wide array of motivation levels, prior knowledge, innate ability, and life circumstances. Before I was permitted to work with a single student, I had to become certified by the College Reading and Learning Association.

I submit that having the "more advanced" students in the system you seem to be proposing teach the "less advanced" students, whether compulsorily or voluntarily, would be a disservice to both parties, but particularly to the tutee. Using the less advanced students as Guinea pigs for their tutors to learn teaching skills will have the same outcome that prompted my school to require certification in the first place: the students who need help simply will not be able to get consistently competent help from their peers. Even with the training I received, my first encounter with a learning disabled student was unproductive for both of us.
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