What’s in a Name: The Label Kids Crave But Are Losing

31 08 2007

“Alexandria’s school administrators are caught in a political and moral trap” in last Sunday’s WaPo.



8 responses

1 09 2007
Rolfe Schmidt

Very interesting. I was horrified that teachers were explicitly told that they couldn’t assign “above-grade-level work” to non TAG students.

It seems that there are a few assumptions that parents are accepting and shouldn’t. First of all, they accept that the TAG classes should have an entry standard in the first place. Why can’t anyone join, and if it doesn’t work out for them, they can go back to the regular curriculum with no stigma? Then they accept that grade levels should mean something. So what if a kid didn’t ace some standardized test and isn’t TAG, let him take the next grade-level’s English class if he can.

In any case, that teacher who was ordered not to give out-of-level work to students should just disobey orders.

Oh, I know, this would all just lead to chaos. We can’t sacrifice order for education.

1 09 2007

Yep. The linguistics of “grade level” might be an interesting clue to what’s really wrong, considering that the verb “grade” means to purposefully push around the natural terrain to shape it as desired, and “level” means the resulting shape will be FLAT!

So giving work “above grade level” literally means to allow some students to escape the prescribed flattening they were in for!

1 09 2007

Louis Menand in The New Yorker last May:
Americans want education to be two things, universal and meritocratic. They want everyone to have a slot who wants one, AND they want the slots to be awarded according to merit. . .”

1 09 2007
Rolfe Schmidt

I like that analysis of the grade level words.

As for Americans confused goals in education, it seems to me that if we could just get rid of the stigma of failure and age-based expectations then we have the resources to give everyone a slot in a good program, demand performance once they are there (or they don’t “pass”), and give anyone who wants it a great education. The people with merit will get the farthest, and everyone would probably be better off. Just my opinion.

1 09 2007
Not June Cleaver

Oh yeah. “Grade level” is the key here. The teachers don’t want any kids to get out of line with what the others are doing. If they aren’t “officially” labeled, then they get lumped in with the lowest common denominator. It makes life easier for the teachers, really, and I’m not surprised at all that they can’t assign above grade level work. Alexandria schools are separate from the Fairfax County schools, but aren’t much different with respect to this issue. The “gifted” label is a joke, and parents fight to get around the criteria to get their kids in. I think they are afraid it is the only chance their kids will have to get a decent education within the system.

//if we could just get rid of the stigma of failure and age-based expectations then we have the resources to give everyone a slot in a good program//

Rolfe, that is so true. But it is like the airline analogy JJ recently posted. Not gonna happen any time soon. 😦

1 09 2007
Not June Cleaver

Hey, it ate my comment!
[JJ’s editorial note: retrieved after last night’s thunderstorm from the aggressive but effective spam filter]

3 09 2007
Rolfe Schmidt

Not JC: I know it’s not going to happen any time soon, but you never know unless you ask!

6 09 2007
Sad but true, gifted kids like horses are looked in the mouth « Cocking A Snook!

[…] gifted and talented woes from the new school yearhere, in case you missed it the first time […]

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