March 7, 2012

DECENTRALIZED EDUCATION

We asked to move Cacey into advanced classes for next year, this is the response from the teacher:
Cacey only missed the cut on his MAP scores by 3 pts. I think he will do just fine in Advanced. I'll fill out the form and have him sign it. Then I'll put it in guidance. You need to come in … to meet with a counselor and sign it. I'm glad you're moving him up. He needs the challenge and definitely can do it. I just couldn't do it because of the requirements.

So the teacher thinks a kid should be in a certain class, but can’t do it because the government test says he can’t. The parent and the teacher have to sign forms, then meet with councilors and sign forms, then the forms get scurried away to the ivory towers where education bureaucrats give them the official approval.

The purpose of MAP from the website states, “MAP, or the Measure of Academic Progress, is a computerized adaptive test which helps teachers, parents, and administrators improve learning for all students and make informed decisions to promote a child's academic growth.”

Looks like, as usual, the result is not as intended. Instead of helping improve learning and make informed decisions, it forces kids into boxes and removes all decision making ability. We don’t need more education money… we need more education freedom!

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3 comments:

  1. Elisabeth ZunigaMarch 7, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    So I'm not currently a teacher, but I was 7 long years ago before becoming full time Mom. I have lots of opinions on standardized testing, but it usually gives some soft of idea of a child's strengths and weaknesses. Just as a similar test would for adults-give you an idea. Of course thre are exceptions to every rule.
    I believe the strongest part of your post is that you, as parents, took action. When I taught, it was common knowledge among teachers how much power/influence the parents have. Yet most do nothing when they want something changed. If a parent wants anything done and they go through the right hoops they will get it done.
    Good for you and Casey! Jump through the hoops, fill out the forms. You know your child better than anyone and they will always need an advocate! The system has many areas that need improvement , but they may not happen any time soon.

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  2. I am assuming Casey will be going to HS next year. In our district, students advance into AP classes or high ability when they have the criteria. How else could you do without some criteria? All parents think their children are gifted (ha ha) and not every teacher can select correctly who should be in advanced and who shouldn't. A teacher's opinion is only part of it. For example.... in Elementary, they look at standardized tests, IQ tests (called CSI scores), and grades. They take another type of IQ test for the high ability program in 3rd. However, if I have a student in 4th that is not in the program, I can request them to be tested again in 4th. Each year a few more slid in. Once they are in the middle school, they move into the faster track. Math and Science seem to go together and English separate or both. Students have the opportunity to accelerate a grade level in Lang Art or Math in Elementary school as well. In HS, a bright student can begin with AP classes their freshman year and take AP Lang Arts, math and sciences. It is their choice with some help from the guidance if needed. It is to their advantage to take the class that they can operate the best in. HS students can gain college credit in HS and many walk into college with a semester under their belt. I never had to fight for anything for Matthew. In elementary, he was in a gifted program and they tested him for grade acceleration. He missed it by a smidgen. I remember going back and forth as far as pushing it further. Looking back, I was glad I didn't. The pieces fell where they needed to for him. He managed his HS courses fine and I feel he got a great education. He walked into Purdue and found calculus easy (wish he could say that about physics this semester). He felt he had a better English class (AP both JR/Senior year) in HS than at Purdue last semester. Now.... our school system is one of the top performing schools in the state. The curriculum director and principal have worked hard to provide an incredible foundation of classes for the students. Matthew was able to take a two hour engineering class his senior year for example. Not too many HS can offer enrichment like that. Each school decides how to handle advanced classes with some guidance from the state. I say all of this to say to check with the principal or curriculum director, ask questions about AP classes especially jr/senior year, find our what is available for him in his field of interest. Matthew took CAD his freshman year which lead into the advanced engineering classes later. He just kinda feel into that, really not knowing much about it. The HS math is key. By taking algebra his 8th grade year, he could get into the advanced AP classes quicker. Some kids took geometry and algebra the same year to get more in, some took on-line courses in the summer. I think HS kids manage their HS experience on their own. Guidance Dept gave little to him, but he kinda knew where he was headed. As far as the "Government Test" that you mentioned, that is really what the school district sets up. Every school is different. I actually think that Casey's teacher was a good one to suggest to you that she sees the potential in him and sees his ability at handling the advanced classes. Maybe thank her for looking out for Casey? Teachers don't get too many thank you's ..... :O)

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  3. Thanks for your thoughts!
    I agree with the idea of standardized tests, a uniform benchmark. What I didn't like was the straight-jacket approach used with the scores. A 73 you're over there, a 74 you're over here. And the teacher can't do anything about it? I don't think politicians and bureaucrats should be making decisions about kids schooling. Teachers and parents should. I am glad I have the power to change the results, I guess I am dissapointed the teacher doesn't have a similar power, to at least suggest a change.

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