Here’s a very interesting story about how Baltimore County Public Schools are changing the way they track and teach students. Liz Bowie of The Baltimore Sun writes, in part:
“‘If you got the golden ticket, you would ride the train from third grade to 12th grade. If you didn’t, then chances are you weren’t going to step onto it later in your academic career,’ said Wade Kerns, the school system’s coordinator of advanced academics. ‘We think instruction needs to be more responsive to the needs of children.’
But a growing chorus of parents and experts are questioning whether the highest achievers are getting what they deserve and need to flourish. They see this as the latest affront, after complaining that gifted students suffered as schools focused on ensuring that the lowest-achieving students passed standardized tests.” It’s a multi-layered article and you’ll definitely want to read the whole thing.
This brings me back to the days when my son was in elementary school and doing really well in his non-GT math class. He asked me to talk to his teacher about moving into GT math and she told me that, yes, he understood the material, but that she only moved up kids who raised their hands to say things like, “Ms. X, what’s another method we could use to solve this problem?” Well, I couldn’t see my son doing that in a million years. I have a feeling that the new method of tracking within small groups in the same classroom wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
(Luckily, once he got to middle school, they were much more open about saying, “Yeah, he gets it. GT for him.” Although it’s almost impossible for that to happen with math because if you’re not in GT in elementary school, you’re at least a year behind.)
What do you think of the changes?