Friday, August 30, 2019

Daily Howler on Elimination of G&T - Trashes NYT coverage, How WIll teachers teach?

....are the people on this panel really "education experts?" Or are they possibly just liberal/progressive bubble-dwellers, like those in the other tribe? The membership of this high-level collection of experts can be perused at this link. At a glance, they don't necessarily look like a group of "education experts" to us. At a glance, that includes several members of the panel's five-person Executive Committee. This doesn't necessarily mean that the panel's proposals are bad. It tells us something about the way modern "elites" pander to one another. According to Shapiro's report, this panel has apparently recommended "doing away" with "all elementary school gifted programs."Really? The New York City Public Schools should "stop most grouping by academic ability," even as it eliminates "all elementary school gifted programs?" Can that possibly be what these experts have recommended?

We ask the question because we spent a number of years in Baltimore's public school classrooms. During that time, we learned that fifth-graders are not all alike. .... Daily Howler
It's always interesting to hear The Howler who actually did teach in poverty schools in Baltimore for a decade. I didn't just jump on board and yell "Yippie" as most of my progressive friends are doing when I heard about this. Behind the scenes even progressives I know have doubts. But I do think that the G&T programs have been a joke - like you can tell about a 4 or 5 year old. Or even later. And the numbers of kids of color denied is ridiculous -- I met enormously talented kids of color in my own school.

Everyone seems to agree there will be white flight but feel these changes are crucial - a "so what" view of things. I think it will go further than that and will give new life to the charter movement and we will see more powerful forces calling for lifting the charter cap - charters won't be held accountable of they are segregated. In fact I believe that the elimination of homogeneous grouping has spurred many parents of kids of color to get away from classes that put their kids with kids who are struggling academically and behavior wise. I taught top classes and bottom classes and believe me - all poor to some extent and parents of color - but there were major differences in these families - the somewhat poor, the poor and the very poor. The top classes based on reading ability were the G&T on most schools.


So it is not just about race, which gets ignored in the debate. We know that Bloomberg put in racist type policies with it came to G&T and ignored the possibilities on the communities of color.

How will we integrate the schools when there are 10 white kids left? They can be rotated for a week at a time like ATRS. Howler makes this point:
At present, 15 percent of Gotham's public school kids are "white." It's never clear what "desegregation" might mean with so few "white" kids to go around. But how well will "desegregation" go when that rather modest percentage drops substantially lower?
And how about teaching and teachers? The dreaded words "Differentiation of instruction" will be bandied about. So they ask you to group kids in a class -- isn't that grouping by ability in mini-format? In my first very ambitious year as a full-time classroom teacher the standard was to have two reading groups - and that was already in a school that had 9 4th grade classes grouped by reading scores. So you grouped even further. I found even that limiting and had 4 reading groups -- 5-7 in each. But I had to find things for the 3 I wasn't working with to do. And so I used all my time figuring this stuff out and after that year I just couldn't manage to do it ever again. 
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Below is his first post on the issue and here is the link to his follow-upa:
Here is his first report from Tuesday.
SEARCH FOR TOMORROW: Experts release integration p...

Everything else gets ignored:
As we noted yesterday, Eliza Shapiro's profile of Richard Carranza's first year didn't seem real complimentary.

In her coverage of the New York City Public Schools, Shapiro has been producing some of the worst print journalism we have ever seen. Today, she's simply reporting a major proposal for Gotham's schools from a group she describes as "a high-level panel."

A bit later, Shapiro describes the high-level panel in an even glossier way. With Shapiro leaning on the scales, here's a thumbnail of what the panel has proposed:
SHAPIRO (8/27/19): For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems.

A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic.

Now, a high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio is recommending that the city do away with most of these selective programs in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country.

[...]

The plan includes all elementary school gifted programs, screened middle schools and some high schools — with the exception of Stuyvesant High School and the city’s seven other elite high schools, whose admission is partially controlled by Albany.

Gifted programs and screened schools have “become proxies for separating students
who can and should have opportunities to learn together,” the panel, made up of several dozen education experts, wrote in the report.
On its face, that sounds like an astonishing set of proposals. That said, are the people on this panel really "education experts?" Or are they possibly just liberal/progressive bubble-dwellers, like those in the other tribe?

The membership of this high-level collection of experts can be perused at this link. At a glance, they don't necessarily look like a group of "education experts" to us.

At a glance, that includes several members of the panel's five-person Executive Committee. This doesn't necessarily mean that the panel's proposals are bad. It tells us something about the way modern "elites" pander to one another.

According to Shapiro's report, this panel has apparently recommended "doing away" with "all elementary school gifted programs."

In fairness, the term "gifted" is overused in much the way "expert" is. But a bit later on, Shapiro extends her account of the panel's proposals:
SHAPIRO: Mr. de Blasio should also place a moratorium on new gifted programs, stop most grouping by academic ability and phase out existing gifted classes by not admitting new students, the panel said. If the recommendations are accepted, New York would shed its current gifted offerings within about five years.
Really? The New York City Public Schools should "stop most grouping by academic ability," even as it eliminates "all elementary school gifted programs?" Can that possibly be what these experts have recommended?

We ask the question because we spent a number of years in Baltimore's public school classrooms. During that time, we learned that fifth-graders are not all alike.

A similar story is told by the data produced by New York City's kids as part of the National Assessment of Education Progress (the Naep), the federal program which is universally regarded as the gold standard of domestic educational testing.

Are Gotham's fifth-graders all alike? Should they all be grouped together in their ongoing instruction? Consider the data for Grade 4 math from the most recent Naep testing for what data have been released:
Scores by percentile, Grade 4 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

90th percentile: 269.09
75th percentile: 251.60
50th percentile: 230.43
25th percentile: 207.50
10th percentile: 186.80
For all Naep data, start here. In the most elementary sense, here's what those test scores mean:

Ten percent of Gotham's fourth-graders scored above 269 on the Grade 4 math test that year. On that same test, ten percent of Gotham's fourth-graders scored below 187.

Starting in the fall of 2017, should those kids all have been doing the same "fifth-grade math?" Consider:

According to a very rough but widely-employed rule of thumb, ten points on the Naep scale is roughly equivalent to one academic year.

As a general matter, such rules of thumb start losing their meaning the farther one moves from the median score in some data set. That said, those data suggest that giant "achievement gaps" exist within New York City's public schools by the end of fourth grade.

In the name of "desegregation," should all those kids proceed together in their fifth grade instruction, with education experts happily saying, "Grouping be damned?"

If so, the top ten percent will be bored out of their skulls during math class; the bottom ten percent will still be totally lost. Our society's "education experts" may not always suspect such things, but classroom teachers possibly will.

On their face, it doesn't sound like these proposals necessarily make good sense. It's also true, as Shapiro notes at several points, that adoption of this new regime will likely stimulate a departure of middle-class families from the public schools.

There will be that many fewer "white" kids to produce the "desegregation" these experts seek. By the time the exerts get done, those kids will all be found in one overcrowded Catholic school somewhere on Staten Island.

At present, 15 percent of Gotham's public school kids are "white." It's never clear what "desegregation" might mean with so few "white" kids to go around. But how well will "desegregation" go when that rather modest percentage drops substantially lower?

Traditionally, grade school classrooms were split into three reading groups—The Bluebirds, The Robins and The Buzzards.

Experts say the children weren't fooled by those neutral group names. But will it help if The Bluebirds and The Buzzards are now asked to read the same books and do the same math assignments?

To certain "experts," that idea will make perfect sense. To us, it pretty much doesn't. Assigned books will often be too hard for The Buzzards. Does anyone care about them?

As Gerson notes in this morning's column, Donald J. Trump is enabled by servile defenders of crazy ideas. Our question, and it has anthropological roots:

Does some similar state of affairs occasionally obtain Over Here?

Tomorrow: We resume our postponed search for tomorrow with last Saturday's front-page report

For high achievers only: This is what those scores and those gaps looked like across all the nation's schools:
Scores by percentile, Grade 4 math
U.S. public schools, 2017 Naep

90th percentile: 278.59
75th percentile: 261.28
50th percentile: 240.70
25th percentile: 218.51
10th percentile: 197.27
What can we learn from such basic data? Such data are never reported, let alone discussed, in the New York Times.

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