Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

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Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby athelas » Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:46 pm UTC

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/educa ... wanted=all

I personally think this is a stupid idea on several levels. First of all we have these highly paid "educators" with fancy titles assuring everyone that all kids will benefit from having all different abilities in the same room - not thinking at all that for example having disruptive kids who don't want to be there will disturb anyone else, or that the brighter bulbs in the room will be bored and possibly disruptive themselves. After all, the educrats don't have to sit in the room for eight hours each day.

Also, note that they aren't getting rid of tracking completely, they're just going from three tracks to two tracks. They're going to have an Honors Track for the top 25% of the kids. As you might imagine, the parents of the top 25% in Stamford tend to be high-powered people who work in Manhattan or at hedge funds in Greenwich or at marketing consulting firms in Darien or the like, and they will not put up with having their kids tossed in with underclass kids.

But middle class kids, well, too bad for them. They should have chosen their parents more wisely.

All in all, idiotic idea.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby philsov » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:05 pm UTC

Wait, so you're saying that it's bad that all the kids of different levels of school performance being together is bad, but then also seperating the top 25% of performers is ALSO bad?

wtf are the educators supposed to do then?

Edit:
These mixed-ability classes have reported fewer behavior problems and better grades for struggling students, but have also drawn complaints of boredom from some high-performing students who say they are not learning as much.


Seems true enough.

The next step past this would be to remove one of the groups (0's) and see how that runs. If the 1's get grouped with the 2's, will there still be fewer behavioral problems and better grades out of the 2's? If that's the case, then it simply seems to be the optimal solution.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:18 pm UTC

While the old system tracked students for all subjects based on math and English scores, the new one will allow students to be designated for honors in one subject but not necessarily another, making more students overall eligible for the upper track.

This system seems far better. Instead of a 2 subject test which determines your caste for 3 years, they're separating the kids out by subject. This seems like it would allow more mobility and reduce the diversity concerns (you will likely have different people in each of your classes).

Another way to improve the system would be to put the best teachers in the lower achieving classes to try and speed them up. Of course, some teachers might deliberately sabotage whatever "best teacher" metric you use in order to remain with the accelerated kids. Maybe an incentive for every student who moves up after a year in your class?

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby cathrl » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:36 pm UTC

I spent 5 years (from age 11-16) in a school which didn't believe in separating kids by ability for most subjects. We were in sets for maths and English, and that was it. History? Science? There were kids in my class who were barely literate. Guess who got the the lion's share of the teacher's attention, and the level at which the lessons were pitched? I was so bored I could have cried.

It was hell. The state schools round here do the same thing...so my kids are now at private schools. No way I'm putting a child of mine through that.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Chen » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:47 pm UTC

The other day in Jamiya’s newly mixed social studies class, students debated who was to blame in an ancient Roman legal case in which a barber shaving a slave in a public square was hit by a ball and cut the slave’s throat. At one point, Jamiya was the only one in the class of 25 to argue that it was the slave’s fault because he sat there at his own risk — which the teacher said was the right answer.


Kinda off topic, but what? How was that the "right" answer? This seems like a poor example of how this ranked "2" student did better than her higher ranked peers, which is what this paragraph seemed to be trying to get at.

More on topic, from what I'm reading these tests are given out once and then you're stuck with the result for several years? Is there no way to improve besides having your parents petition to get you bumped? Or is there a test each year to determine how well you'll fare in the next year?

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby The Reaper » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:57 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
The other day in Jamiya’s newly mixed social studies class, students debated who was to blame in an ancient Roman legal case in which a barber shaving a slave in a public square was hit by a ball and cut the slave’s throat. At one point, Jamiya was the only one in the class of 25 to argue that it was the slave’s fault because he sat there at his own risk — which the teacher said was the right answer.


Kinda off topic, but what? How was that the "right" answer? This seems like a poor example of how this ranked "2" student did better than her higher ranked peers, which is what this paragraph seemed to be trying to get at.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:02 pm UTC

Can we have this conversation without making fun of 11-year-olds?

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby The Reaper » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:05 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:Can we have this conversation without making fun of 11-year-olds?

The teacher isn't 11. They should have at least been familiar with the concept.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Dream » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

cathrl wrote:There were kids in my class who were barely literate. Guess who got the the lion's share of the teacher's attention, and the level at which the lessons were pitched? I was so bored I could have cried.

It was hell. The state schools round here do the same thing...so my kids are now at private schools. No way I'm putting a child of mine through that.

God. Fucking. Damn you. The kids in your class who are barely literate NEED THAT ATTENTION! Education is for everyone, not just for people who can excel at it. And if you think you have no place learning in the same environment as a person who lacks literacy skills, then you are misguided, arrogant and stupid. You ironically have a lot to learn from anyone. You had the luxury of learning and motivating yourself by yourself. Your less fortunate classmates simply could not do that. And you know, it isn't their fault. They're not lazy or stupid, they just weren't taught what you were, whether by their parents, peers or teachers.

And streaming as a solution to this? The people at the bottom of the better classes would get the short end of the stick there. The class forges ahead at supersmartkid level, and the bottom of the class has to work twice as hard to keep up. The lower stream still has the same problem as in an unstreamed situation, where the slowest learners have to be helped along, while the top of the class would be capable of going faster. So the problems are still there, but life is easier for you personally.

So go off and cry if you like. The system is designed for everyone, not just you, and your selfishness doesn't incline me to sympathise with your privileged plight.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby SummerGlauFan » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:13 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
cathrl wrote:There were kids in my class who were barely literate. Guess who got the the lion's share of the teacher's attention, and the level at which the lessons were pitched? I was so bored I could have cried.

It was hell. The state schools round here do the same thing...so my kids are now at private schools. No way I'm putting a child of mine through that.

God. Fucking. Damn you. The kids in your class who are barely literate NEED THAT ATTENTION! Education is for everyone, not just for people who can excel at it. And if you think you have no place learning in the same environment as a person who lacks literacy skills, then you are misguided, arrogant and stupid. You ironically have a lot to learn from anyone. You had the luxury of learning and motivating yourself by yourself. Your less fortunate classmates simply could not do that. And you know, it isn't their fault. They're not lazy or stupid, they just weren't taught what you were, whether by their parents, peers or teachers.

And streaming as a solution to this? The people at the bottom of the better classes would get the short end of the stick there. The class forges ahead at supersmartkid level, and the bottom of the class has to work twice as hard to keep up. The lower stream still has the same problem as in an unstreamed situation, where the slowest learners have to be helped along, while the top of the class would be capable of going faster. So the problems are still there, but life is easier for you personally.

So go off and cry if you like. The system is designed for everyone, not just you, and your selfishness doesn't incline me to sympathise with your privileged plight.



The poor performers aren't the only ones who need attention, so dial the flaming back a little bit, 'k? I freaking loved each and every one of my honors classes in school, specifically because I GOT WHAT I NEEDED; an education not dumbed down to cater to the lower performers. Students who need more should be given more. It shouldn't be hard for anyone to understand that.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby TaintedDeity » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:26 pm UTC

Then what is more important?
Creating a few excellent students who are fully stimulated and can tackle any problem intelligently or producing a legion of capable children who can function in society.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby SummerGlauFan » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:29 pm UTC

Or, I don't know, you could do something radical. Like honors classes for the students who need them, and regular classes for students who can't perform at that level. Shocking, I know.

I just get mad when people are dragged down from their best because of others who aren't up to their level. Especially when it's any form of government deciding to do that.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby TaintedDeity » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:34 pm UTC

Oh, I agree with you and as wonderful I think it is for people to strive higher and higher into knowledge, is it really necessary?
The effort that is put into teaching the excellent more and more could be used to ensure no child grows up disillusioned by the entire process.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby cmd » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
cathrl wrote:There were kids in my class who were barely literate. Guess who got the the lion's share of the teacher's attention, and the level at which the lessons were pitched? I was so bored I could have cried.

It was hell. The state schools round here do the same thing...so my kids are now at private schools. No way I'm putting a child of mine through that.

God. Fucking. Damn you. The kids in your class who are barely literate NEED THAT ATTENTION! Education is for everyone, not just for people who can excel at it. And if you think you have no place learning in the same environment as a person who lacks literacy skills, then you are misguided, arrogant and stupid. You ironically have a lot to learn from anyone. You had the luxury of learning and motivating yourself by yourself. Your less fortunate classmates simply could not do that. And you know, it isn't their fault. They're not lazy or stupid, they just weren't taught what you were, whether by their parents, peers or teachers.

And streaming as a solution to this? The people at the bottom of the better classes would get the short end of the stick there. The class forges ahead at supersmartkid level, and the bottom of the class has to work twice as hard to keep up. The lower stream still has the same problem as in an unstreamed situation, where the slowest learners have to be helped along, while the top of the class would be capable of going faster. So the problems are still there, but life is easier for you personally.

So go off and cry if you like. The system is designed for everyone, not just you, and your selfishness doesn't incline me to sympathise with your privileged plight.


Unfortunately, often the case is the kids who are barely literate don't want to learn. I don't think he was talking about anyone who, ya'know actually had problems learning.

And as was pointed out, stuff like this is good justification for splitting up classrooms.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Dream » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:40 pm UTC

TaintedDeity wrote:Then what is more important?
Creating a few excellent students who are fully stimulated and can tackle any problem intelligently or producing a legion of capable children who can function in society.

^Less flamey, and I agree completely. (If I understand the implied meaning, anyway.) In fact I'd argue that negatively: Schools have a primary responsibility to ensure that no pupils are allowed to fall off the back of the education system and leave without the skills to function in society.

SummerGlauFan, I'm glad you loved your education. But if someone refers to being taught alongside less capable students as something you're "put through", I'm going to be pissed off.
SummerGlauFan wrote:Students who need more should be given more. It shouldn't be hard for anyone to understand that.

And as I said, streaming just shifts the problem to affecting students who can't keep up, rather than those who are getting less stimulation than they can use. Those students need to be catered to before the top-flight students, because they are less capable of taking care of themselves. The system will never be so perfect that the kids who are being "held back" are a bigger section of the class than those who are in need of more help than them.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby SummerGlauFan » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:42 pm UTC

TaintedDeity wrote:Oh, I agree with you and as wonderful I think it is for people to strive higher and higher into knowledge, is it really necessary?
The effort that is put into teaching the excellent more and more could be used to ensure no child grows up disillusioned by the entire process.


No offense, really, but it's probably thoughts like this that contribute to American schools falling behind those of other First World nations. If you've been gifted with excellent students, you had better do whatever you can to cultivate them. Holding those kids back just because you don't want to seem unfair to lower performers is never a good idea.

That being said, you should never ever EVER ignore lower performers just because they're lower performers. I never suggested that at all. However, put those students into an environment where they'll learn best, and put higher performers into an environment where they'll learn best; aka, honors and regular classes. That's what I am advocating, Dream and TaintedDiety.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby The Reaper » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:48 pm UTC

I had an idea. Maybe make it so students in the normal classes can decide when they're ready to be in the honors classes, and take a test (content depending on the class) to see if they're caught up to the information that's being taught in that class, and if they pass it, stick them in the honors class. likewise, give the honors class a test every few months (2 or so) to see if they're caught up to the their own information, and not just in there because of someones political maneuvering. if they dont pass it, they go back to the normal class, until they either catch up to where they were supposed to be, or they stay in the normal class.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby TaintedDeity » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:48 pm UTC

But why are higher grades and a small group of superior children automatically good?
Why is producing a handful of exemplary students better than producing a schoolful of competence?
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby The Reaper » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:49 pm UTC

TaintedDeity wrote:But why are higher grades and a small group of superior children automatically good?
Why is producing a handful of exemplary students better than producing a schoolful of competence?

Dumbing a group down isn't making the other group smarter.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby SummerGlauFan » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:
TaintedDeity wrote:But why are higher grades and a small group of superior children automatically good?
Why is producing a handful of exemplary students better than producing a schoolful of competence?

Dumbing a group down isn't making the other group smarter.


This. This very much. Dragging down others just so lower performers don't feel so bad is just wrong.

Having the honors classes is in no way, shape, or form going to harm the lower performers.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby philsov » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:Dumbing a group down isn't making the other group smarter.


It makes the other group less disruptive and get better grades.

That's the entire point of the mixed classroom.

Well... that and economic/orginizational perks.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Belial » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:15 pm UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
The Reaper wrote:
TaintedDeity wrote:But why are higher grades and a small group of superior children automatically good?
Why is producing a handful of exemplary students better than producing a schoolful of competence?

Dumbing a group down isn't making the other group smarter.


This. This very much. Dragging down others just so lower performers don't feel so bad is just wrong.

Having the honors classes is in no way, shape, or form going to harm the lower performers.


That depends. Do you have an infinite number of "good" teachers and resources?

More than you need?

If so, then yes, dividing the "good" students from the "bad" ones won't harm the bad ones.

But if, for some odd reason like the fact that we're living in reality, there is a limited amount of good teachers and good resources and general school attention to go around, then separating the high-performing students from the low-performing one, and giving resource priority to the high-performers (as most gifted programs tend to do: why bother separating the gifties if you're not going to teach them well?) does directly harm the lower performers. It insures that the kids who pull ahead early stay ahead and the kids who fall behind early never have a chance to catch up. Or even get a particularly decent education.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Hawknc » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:17 pm UTC

I don't have a particular problem with streaming classes - I wish they'd done it at my first high school, but then I might not have had incentive to try to get into a better one, so eh. A separate stream for lower-performing students isn't necessarily a bad thing in my eyes as long as it's not viewed as a permanent solution. Students should only be in it, for individual subjects, as long as they're having trouble coping with the average rate of learning for that subject. Once they've caught up, they're back with the rest of the class. There also needs to be specialised teacher training to help those students catch up, but I would hope having capable teachers goes without saying. Perhaps not.

Ninjedit: this:
Belial wrote:But if, for some odd reason like the fact that we're living in reality, there is a limited amount of good teachers and good resources and general school attention to go around, then separating the high-performing students from the low-performing one, and giving resource priority to the high-performers (as most gifted programs tend to do: why bother separating the gifties if you're not going to teach them well?) does directly harm the lower performers. It insures that the kids who pull ahead early stay ahead and the kids who fall behind early never have a chance to catch up. Or even get a particularly decent education.

Is why I moved high schools. The lower-performing kids can have those teacher resources, I'll go to a school that gives me a real challenge, thanks.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Dream » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
The Reaper wrote:
TaintedDeity wrote:But why are higher grades and a small group of superior children automatically good?
Why is producing a handful of exemplary students better than producing a schoolful of competence?

Dumbing a group down isn't making the other group smarter.


This. This very much. Dragging down others just so lower performers don't feel so bad is just wrong.

Having the honors classes is in no way, shape, or form going to harm the lower performers.

It will harm the people who have to drop out of them, which I did in maths right before my final exams. And if you only cream off the absolute top of the year, then you're putting resources in a disproportionate amount into the high flyers, who in the grand scheme of things don't matter all that much. There are too few of them. The only way streaming works is in very broad streams, within which there are many ability levels. This does not cause problems for anyone, because the classes still have to be taught at a broadly understandable level. But it does avoid either making the less able smart kids work too hard to keep up, or setting the bar so high that a uselessly small number of kids attain it. I don't think the people who advocate streaming here are talking about very broad streams, everything seems to be about absolute excellence being somehow deserving of extra attention, resources and effort on the part of the school. But they don't owe anyone more just because that person is doing well. They still have to focus on giving the best education to the largest amount of people.

Which is basically what Belial said.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:25 pm UTC

Belial wrote:giving resource priority to the high-performers (as most gifted programs tend to do: why bother separating the gifties if you're not going to teach them well?) does directly harm the lower performers.

Right, this is creating a positive-feedback loop which causes the system to diverge. What we need is the lower-performers to be taught better than the higher-performers, causing negative feedback and a convergent system.

At the very least we could rotate the teachers between the classes, which would roughly maintain their levels.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Chen » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:27 pm UTC

In the high school I went to the gifted students didn't get anything different than the rest except for the fact that they were in a class with other gifted students. I mean same general field trips, same movies to be watched, similar books to be read (most all the english classes read different books from each other even in the same grade level anyways). I mean its not even like the gifted classes got the "best" teachers. Doing something like this, in this manner, helped the gifted students and really didn't "steal" resources from anyone else. As long as one group isn't favored (resource wise) over another, this type of separation can certainly work.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Dream » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:32 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
Belial wrote:giving resource priority to the high-performers (as most gifted programs tend to do: why bother separating the gifties if you're not going to teach them well?) does directly harm the lower performers.

Right, this is creating a positive-feedback loop which causes the system to diverge. What we need is the lower-performers to be taught better than the higher-performers, causing negative feedback and a convergent system.

If you push up the mediocre kids, you obviously create an atmosphere in which excellence is both easier to achieve and more acceptable to the school as a whole. The median is raised. That has to be much better for everyone, especially the smartest.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Crius » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:33 pm UTC

I think that a three-class system is a poor choice. Putting the kids in the bottom class is basically telling the kids that they're dumb. And the kids, being kids, are likely to believe you.

Just doing an honors class is probably the best idea, since the gifted students get their chance to excel, and the main message you're sending to the "not honors" kids is just "normal". Better yet is an honors system based on subject, so the kids can excel is the subjects they're gifted in.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Belial » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:36 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:Right, this is creating a positive-feedback loop which causes the system to diverge. What we need is the lower-performers to be taught better than the higher-performers, causing negative feedback and a convergent system.


Which is nearly impossible. Because unless you have teachers who are pretty damn amazing, the giftie kids will be racing ahead of the low-performers simply because they already understand the material better, and they've been cut loose of anyone who doesn't.

So you've thrown the lower performers out of the car, slammed on the gas, and told them they can get back in if they can catch up on foot.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby The Reaper » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:37 pm UTC

Crius wrote:Better yet is an honors system based on subject, so the kids can excel is the subjects they're gifted in.
I would have loved this.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby floodslayer » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:41 pm UTC

Ms. Zussman and others contend that Stamford’s diversity, with poor urban neighborhoods and wealthy suburban enclaves, demands multiple academic tracks ...


To me this is the heart of the matter. I find it very telling that a mom here is basically saying (atleast, this is how I'm reading it) that 'the fact that there are poor kids here demands we keep kids on separate tracks (so my kids aren't lumped in with those thugs)'. Several posters have argued that separation doesn't affect lower performing students AND gives an edge to the smartest kids (something for nothing), but the article from the OP suggests the opposite. I can certainly imagine that having smart students in a class to help kick off class discussions and provide a competitive spirit, as well as applying social pressure to students who don't want to learn or are disruptive. Furthermore, to the degree that the 'lower' tracks have a larger proportion of low income and minority students, there might even be some (unmeasurable) benefit to the smart white kids from meeting people of a different socioeconomic background.

I think it's pretty clear to everyone (all flaming aside) that the ideal for every student is a personally targeted, challenging and engaging curriculum, but resources will always be a seriously limiting factor in that (even in private schools). Yes, lumping high performing kids in with students who aren't doing as well may tend to hold some students back, but if they complain of being bored, then perhaps they're self-motivated enough to pursue some independent study or advanced courses on their own (this level of flexibility may be unimplementable at lower grade levels I know ... but it would be nice). I guess what I'm saying is that it probably makes more sense for high performing students to go out of their way to learn more (ie summer classes in things they have a special interest in, additional projects if they are interested) vs having low performing students be expected to catch up via summer school or remedial testing because their classes are not getting them up to speed.

In the long run, some students clearly will outperform others, and will be at entirely different grade levels, even very early on. It would be impossible to eliminate all tracking at all levels of education, and it would likely make it very hard for students to be prepared for high performing colleges if they didn't eventually strike out into a higher tier of coursework. But when the differences are relatively small in performance I can certainly see how the nominal benefit to lower performing students might be larger than the nominal detriment to the slightly higher performing students.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby frezik » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:42 pm UTC

Dream wrote:It will harm the people who have to drop out of them, which I did in maths right before my final exams. And if you only cream off the absolute top of the year, then you're putting resources in a disproportionate amount into the high flyers, who in the grand scheme of things don't matter all that much.


One of those high-flyers can make the rest of society quite a bit more efficient. You can point to several inventions throughout history that multiplied efficinecy and find that it was created by either a single person or a small group. See: the printing press, the steam engine, airplanes, and various inventions of AI labs around the '60s and '70s. Probably fire and the wheel, as well.

That's not to say that lower performing students should just be left behind. We need more truck drivers than nuclear physicists, and truck drivers should still have a basic understanding of mathmatics, reading, and civics. But even their collective effort won't necessarily reach the level of effects of one good breakthrough made by a single person with an idea.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby The Reaper » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:47 pm UTC

frezik wrote:That's not to say that lower performing students should just be left behind. We need more truck drivers than nuclear physicists, and truck drivers should still have a basic understanding of mathmatics, reading, and civics. But even their collective effort won't necessarily reach the level of effects of one good breakthrough made by a single person with an idea.
But having education isn't required for making an earth shattering scientific breakthrough, or a world changing invention. It just helps a bit.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby athelas » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:50 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
Belial wrote:giving resource priority to the high-performers (as most gifted programs tend to do: why bother separating the gifties if you're not going to teach them well?) does directly harm the lower performers.

Right, this is creating a positive-feedback loop which causes the system to diverge. What we need is the lower-performers to be taught better than the higher-performers, causing negative feedback and a convergent system.

You're assuming that every kid is capable of equivalent performance, and that lower performers *can* converge. The reality of intelligence differences (and please, no single anecdotes about this gifted but lazy kid, etc.) means that if you throw resources at the bottom, you will make some gains but will not close the gap, except by dumbing down the smart ones.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Indon » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:58 pm UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Having the honors classes is in no way, shape, or form going to harm the lower performers.


You know, I'm not so sure of this.

I mean, if I were trying to create a community of coordinated, intelligent agents, and some of the strategies were doing better than others, and someone were to propose separating the more effective strategies from the less effective ones, it would seem obvious to me that the less effective actors are going to drop further in effectiveness, because they will no longer be coordinating with - and essentially learning from - those more effective actors.

Of course, kids aren't exactly the most efficient intelligent actors, so the impact of socialization on intelligence is definitely arguable. But if kids didn't work that way, it would make them exceptions as social, intelligent animals go.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:18 pm UTC

athelas wrote:You're assuming that every kid is capable of equivalent performance, and that lower performers *can* converge. The reality of intelligence differences (and please, no single anecdotes about this gifted but lazy kid, etc.) means that if you throw resources at the bottom, you will make some gains but will not close the gap, except by dumbing down the smart ones.

I'll admit that the idea that you can cause the system to converge is optimistic. However, even if some kids are truly incapable of performing as well as their peers regardless of resources and intervention, it's horribly pessimistic to suggest that anyone not in the honors class meets that definition. Extending resources and excellent teachers to the lower performers will certainly allow some, if not all of them, to succeed, and with metrics in place it is possible to construct a system which can graduate some of those lower performers to the higher-performing class. For instance, in a school where there were two classrooms of lower tier students and one classroom of higher tier students, I am confident that with resource management and proper attention you could see an improvement to two higher tier classes and one lower tier. And mobility between the classes further encourages students to achieve (unlike the aforementioned 3-year tracks).
Belial wrote:So you've thrown the lower performers out of the car, slammed on the gas, and told them they can get back in if they can catch up on foot.

I don't think so. It makes no sense to teach advanced students basic grammar rules thee times over. It similarly makes no sense to teach Shakespeare to the students who still don't grasp grammar rules. So why not devote two teachers and all the resources you can spare to accelerating the lower tier students while the advanced students are given a copy of the Complete Works and some chairs in the basement. To use your analogy, I want the higher achievers to be put on cruise control while supercharging the lower tier.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Internetmeme » Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:34 pm UTC

They did something like this in my state:
They took bad grades out of the standardized test.

In SC we took a test called PACT (Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test), and there were several scores you could get
*Advanced
*Average
*Basic
*Below Basic

In descending order.

Now we have PASS:

*Great
*Good
*Average
*Needs Improvement

Or something like that.

Really, now there's no incentive to get better.
From a parent's point of view:
Below Basic: Crap. Johnny needs to get better at this stuff.
Needs Improvement: Oh well, it isn't that bad....

Also, this is coming from the state that took "+" and "-" suffixes off of grades.

Now what are we going to do?
Oh no. Samantha is getting bad grades. And so is her class! The state couldn't possibly be doing anything wrong. We are infallible. I guess we should take grades out of the curriculum. If they feel better, maybe they'll do better.

It's garbage like this that has broken the education system in America.

Personally, I like the current system for college. A basic test (SAT) measures your aptitude for education. You score well enough and you get into college. Even if you don't score well enough, you can still go to a community college and get more education, just not the extremely difficult stuff you would go to a normal university/college for. And even if you don't do that, there's still trade schools/the military.
The PUBLIC education system is in shambles, the PRIVATE education system is doing fine.
Guess why?
People PAY the private education system to do well. If the private school doesn't do well, they lose about 4-7k a year in tuition for that student. There's nothing like that in the public education system. Teachers get paid regardless of how much their students learn. Yes, they can get fired for the entire class failing, but some put in just enough effort so that they get paid. My 5th grade teacher even admitted to us that she just came back from retirement so she could buy an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

And then, why does the system have to be at fault?
Why is it that hardly anyone EVER TAKES ANY ACCOUNTABILITY?

Seriously, is this what society has evolved into? Where you can sue McDonalds because YOU spill coffee that you KNOW is hot into your lap?
Seriously, take the damn safety lables off of everything and let the problem solve itself </tangent>

But back on topic:
No parent wants to blame their child, because their child is infallible. The teacher is always at fault.
"My son accidentally did the wrong work. Please accept this instead." -actually happened in class. So the teacher had a mock trial. We let him turn it in.
What the hell? I was one of the few people that voted for him NOT to turn it in.
There's a website in place to TELL him what he is SUPPOSED TO DO FOR HIS HOMEWORK. NO EXCUSE.

And for people arguing that "gifted" programs are bad:
Yes, education should be aimed at the lowest common denominator. However, there are actually people that do better than others. Shocking idea I know. So why not have gifted classes?
We have a 3-track system at the school that is NOT set in stone.
TP-Tech prep, probably not going to college at this level
CP-College prep, the standard class at the school for the majority. Maybe going to college.
Honors-Honors, probably going to AP and then college. Probably going to college.
AP-Advanced Prep, accepted as a credit in nationwide colleges. 90% going to college.
101-college, similar to AP but only accepted in SC as college credit. 90% going to college.

I say 3-track because only in the junior/senior year do AP and 101 classes actually take place. There is one AP class for Sophomores (Human Geography), although it is the lower-end of the spectrum of AP.

The levels are not set in stone, as TP can go to CP to Honors to Ap/101, etc...
Honors can move down. Some people in English II Hon/Geometry this year (we had the oppurtunity to take 2 HS classes in Middle school, Algebra and English I Hon) moved down toEnglish III CP/Algebra II CP. Some of us went on to the next level in Honors, English II Hon/Algebra II Hon.

The system we have now is completely perfect, although the Middle School isn't doing the best job. They have a "no 0 policy," meaning that if you get a "0" (read:not turned in), you have the oppurtinity to redo it. This hurts more than it helps, because it lulls the kids into thinking they don't have to do homework. This screwed me over big time last year (freshmeat) and made me get a "B" in my GSI class when I should have got an "A." While it doesn't seem like much, I really want my grades to stay at least at "A" while challenging myself as much as possible for the SAT. Challenge while passing>Passing lower level>Challenge without passing.

I know that was a long rant, but geeze. Sitting honors level kids with lower level (although not average) is bad 90% of the time for the honors kids. And using the same system of reason it making them "feel bad" because they aren't as smart, you can see that it is a bad thing for both.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Duban » Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:38 pm UTC

athelas wrote:You're assuming that every kid is capable of equivalent performance, and that lower performers *can* converge. The reality of intelligence differences (and please, no single anecdotes about this gifted but lazy kid, etc.) means that if you throw resources at the bottom, you will make some gains but will not close the gap, except by dumbing down the smart ones.

<--- 22, Born and raised in CT. This is the case. The class can only advance as quickly as the slowest student because previous knowledge is required to advance. The slower students can only advance so quickly, putting them in a class that runs at their pace isn't going to harm them. The class they're in is going to have to run at that pace regardless just to keep the students going. The smart students on the other hand would be forced to move at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Take it from a guy who was in this system. I was at the top of the high end classes and even I was driven nuts by the slow speed of the students at the bottom of this group. I think i would have cried if i had to move at the speed of the lowest classes. The fact remains that the slower students may gain some marginal benefits from having smart tutors but they would do it by wasting the massive potential of the higher end students who could be years ahead. It wasn't until college that I realized just how much time and potential i lost by going at a middle-school/high-school rate for so many years even with the seperated classes.

Oh and the caste system mentioned is laughably ignorant of the actual circumstances. Trust me, students are aware that there are classes that move at a faster pace but it doesn't affect much. Question: How many middle schoolers that you know about think intelligence dominates how "cool" they are. Answer: Not many.

P.S. Before you make fun of the US schooling system and this "caste system" CT is considered at the top if not thee top state in terms of education and average student test scores. Semi-problematically the state of CT has gone into quite a bit of debt just trying to keep this position.
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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Indon wrote:... it would seem obvious to me that the less effective actors are going to drop further in effectiveness, because they will no longer be coordinating with - and essentially learning from - those more effective actors.

A question to pose is: will combining these groups affect the effectiveness of the more effective actors? In my experience, high achievers tend to value and encourage intelligence when isolated, and lower achievers tend to discourage intelligence and praise failure. Mixed groups tend to similarly praise failure, and coolness is directly proportional to perceived intelligence.

Combining the classes seems to have at least a temporary moderate increase in the lower students' effectiveness, but if it significantly reduces the effectiveness of the higher achievers, you're looking at a diminishing returns scenario where soon the lower achievers are marginally better off while the higher achievers are severely stunted.
Duban wrote:Trust me, students are aware that there are classes that move at a faster pace but it doesn't affect much.

I choose to trust my own experience instead. It certainly affects the mood of the students to know that they are the slow kids. Especially, as was previously mentioned, when there exist more than 2 levels. If you ask the kids what the classes are, he'll tell you the dumb class, the average class, and the smart class.

Both systems have their disadvantages. However, in the second case, I believe this can be tempered by class mobility, which gives an incentive to succeed, and by separation by subject. Of course, the downside to this is additional evaluating (but then again, you're grading these students in each subject annually, anyway). The remedy to the first problem is convincing the students that being smart is cool. I have never seen this strategy succeed, except in the case of an entire school of advanced students.

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Re: Connecticut School Wants to Group Smart and Dumb Kids Togeth

Postby Indon » Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:A question to pose is: will combining these groups affect the effectiveness of the more effective actors?

It would depend on how you approach the trust system between your actors - that is to say, how easy is it to teach. It is, without doubt, the case in our present school system, but I wonder if perhaps we can change that.

For example, it may be of benefit to encourage - and train - strong students in how to teach the content. Such teaching would concievably further enhance the understanding of the strong students (and as far as application goes, it sure beats homework), while allowing them to significantly increase the attention given to the weaker students, and of course, such a solution is not availilble in skill-segregated classes.

Heisenberg wrote:Combining the classes seems to have at least a temporary moderate increase in the lower students' effectiveness, but if it significantly reduces the effectiveness of the higher achievers, you're looking at a diminishing returns scenario where soon the lower achievers are marginally better off while the higher achievers are severely stunted.

Even in the present system, though, I would venture that the gains of the weaker students would be about par with the losses of the stronger students - it's just that there tends to be more weaker students than stronger ones.

Heisenberg wrote:I choose to trust my own experience instead. It certainly affects the mood of the students to know that they are the slow kids. Especially, as was previously mentioned, when there exist more than 2 levels. If you ask the kids what the classes are, he'll tell you the dumb class, the average class, and the smart class.


It's a shame kids are so much smarter than we wish they were - otherwise, they wouldn't pick up on these things. :P
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