A new policy brief from the Education and Public Interest Center offers three case studies of a school (a San Diego charter), a district (on Long Island), and a nation (Finland) that have "abolished curricular stratification and promoted outstanding student achievement." According to the brief, classrooms and schools where all students are taught a challenging common curriculum offer proof that detracking can produce increased achievement and far more equitable outcomes. While acknowledging the complexity of such a reform, the brief's strong recommendation is the elimination of curricular tracks that separate students by race, socio-economic status, or assumptions about learning potential. It proposes that states require districts to identify all curricular tracks, describe their composition by racial and socio-economic groups, and indicate student placement policies. Policymakers should communicate clearly to the public what the data demonstrate about tracking and the reasons for reform. Detracking should begin with the lowest track, and meaningful access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses should be available to all students throughout the reform process. The brief also advocates school, educator, and student support during the process, and presents model statutory code language that can be used by legislators seeking to implement these changes.
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"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Friday, January 15, 2010
The Research and Policy Implementation to Support Detracking
As our penal pedagogy and backwards policy decisions drive teachers back to pre-Civil Rights days, it is important to pay close attention to what common sense, human decency, and research tells us about segregation by tracking. From PEN Newsblast (ht to Monty Neill):
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We may have integrated the schools but not the classrooms. Come to my high school of 1900 and look in any classroom. If you see 29 of the 30 students are white, you're looking into an honors or AP class. If the class appears to be "diverse", it most likely is a regular class. Honors classes have mostly veteran teachers with students who are all focused on achieving college admissions. Their parents are strong advocates for them and their education. The classes are fast paced, stimulating, and productive. Classroom management is not a concern. Homework is completed by all students, and all students are engaged in the instruction or class activity. In the regular classrooms, attendance is a major problem, classroom management consumes a significant amount of time, the pacing of instruction is slowed to the lowest level student,home work is usually completed by half the class, and many students are not engaged in the class's instruction or activity. Programs like AVID, Achievement Via Individual Determination, reach into this under served group of students and encourages and supports them in taking honors and AP courses. This program offers a peer support group for minorities who desire to go to college. Education needs to reverse this trend of classroom segregation, and we have the technology to implement many methods that can overcome this archaic approach to learning.ReplyDelete