Monday, October 3, 2011

Public School Frustrations

I am so frustrated with our local public school that I have a headache.  Our school has an advanced math class that requires certain test scores at four different data points for placement.  Our girls missed placement by less than one point on one of the four data points, and one full point on another data point.  Yes, because they missed one mark by .4 and .8 and another mark by one point, they are not in the advanced class. 

The standard class is dong work the girls mastered in the first semester of first grade.  This class won't be doing the same work the girls were doing at the end of first grade until the end of second grade.  Of course, this didn't sit well with me.  I asked what the school was going to do to differentiate the standard math class since it didn't make sense that children who missed the advanced class by a point or two should do the same math as students who scored in the 70th percentile. 

After speaking with the principal, I learned that more than 20 second grade students are in the same position as the girls.  To me, this says the school needs to work to meet the needs of these students.  To the school, this means they need to "consider options."   The problem, as the principal explained it, is if they start another math level in second grade, it won't carry over to third, fourth or fifth grades.  Of course, I said, "Why not?"  She said it's still in discussions, but it's not really what the math teachers think would be most beneficial.  After our conversation, I realized that the only option that interests me is the option to move them to the advanced math class if they meet the first quarter standard after their next assessment test.  Of course, we could end up in the same position where they miss the advance class by a point -- or by a fraction of a point. 

In other words, we're going to have to home school the girls in math if we want them to advance. 

I understand that public schools are about providing a minimum education to all students, but public schools are leaving behind a whole class of students who are really bright.  In political campaigns and on news shows, we talk about the need to provide our students with more advanced math, but when faced with a cohort of students who need more advanced math, the answer is to simply wait until the next test.

After all, why spend resources on students who already test at the top of the class?  It's more important to focus on the bottom so the overall test scores look good. No matter what educators say, this is the reality of public education today. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At least your school offers an advanced math class! My son was apparently identified as a top student in his class in math and given extra homework (which we're happy that his teacher is trying to keep the him challenged). We are really liking his public school teacher this year! Last year he had a new teacher, nice but inexperienced (it's a shame the mentoring programs for new teachers is so hit-or-miss, but that's another topic). Last year, we worried that the reading and math work were below his abilities and augmented his schoolwork at home. We didn't want him being behind his classmates because of his teacher's inexperience.

Today (10/5/11) in the Chicago Tribune Chicagoland - Health & Family section is an article titled "Some parents borrow from the home-schooler's playbook to boost kids' classroom education". I couldn't find a link to an electronic version of the story, but it mentioned how more parents are using home school sites to supplement their child's education.

I found it interesting that the article said "...a growing number of parents find themselves taking at least a portion of their children's education into their own hands." All I could think was... REALLY??? Don't we as parents have the MAIN responsibility to educate our children? Schools may make it easier on us, but I thought my son's education was my husband's and my responsibility.

I think you're spot on when you say schools are providing a minimum education. Is it any wonder that the skills of the youth in this country are falling behind from a global perspective?

JK