This evening I want to tell you a secret. Have any of you heard about "bubble kids"? This is a term your school district will not explain in its newsletter. The reason they won't post it is that "bubble kids" get all the help in the testing furor. Bubble kids are those who fail by only one or two points - or bubbles. The kids bubble in their answers on test forms. So a bubble kid is one who missed the passing score by only one or two bubbles.
I sat in several meetings with the principal, the dean of instruction, and the department heads when we were told to identify the bubble kids in our subjects. These kids are important to the school because they can make the school look better in the test scores. They are so close, the reasoning goes, that they can benefit from tutoring and therefore help the scores.
So the bubble kids are identified, divided into groups, and tutored relentlessly. The kids who missed by 5 or 6 points, maybe 10 points; what happens to them. It's simple. They cant raise their scores enough to help the schools rating, so they are ignored. Why would you waste your time with them the school thinks, they can't help us. They don't get intense help with their work. After all, don't you know, they won't ever pass anyway. Why waste valuable tutoring time on them? Of course, what a brilliant idea - work with the kids who can make you look good and throw the others to the sharks. I truely wish I knew which of our administrative geniuses brought that obscene idea into the district. Thats Sheldon Independent School District, always go for the easy stupid solution instead of the complex one that would require planning, actual thought, listening to teachers, or giving a care.
You may ask what about the kids who can go on. They can't help much more either. After all they have already passed the test. But, ohhhhh those precious bubble kids. If we could just get those kids to get two more questions right then we might be recognized. Can you imagine how wonderful that would be.
The concept of the bubble kid was created to help school ratings, not to help all the kids who need help. What morally reprehensible thing to do. My school district - The Sheldon Independent School District did it. I witnessed it because I was in the meetings. We had to identify the "bubble kids" for each subject and design tutorials for them. The lower kids could just go jump because they couldn't help the district or the building. This was the same brilliant district that had the ever popular group strip searches.
Post lifted from Teacher's Viewpoint
HOW NOT TO TEACH MATHEMATICS
Schoolkids in Newton, a Boston suburb, aren't measuring up in math tests, writes Tom Mountain in the Newton Tab. Thirty-two percent of sixth-graders are in the "warning" or "needs improvement" category in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, and school officials are flummoxed:
The school department offered no tangible explanation for these declining scores other than to admit that they have no explanation, as articulated by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Carolyn Wyatt (salary $106,804), "[The results] have decreased, incrementally, each year and continue to puzzle us." She went on to admit that this downward trend is peculiar to Newton and "is not being seen statewide." Again, she offered no explanation, but she did assure the School Committee that her assistant, Math Coordinator Mary Eich (salary $101,399), is currently investigating the problem.
But according to Mountain, it turns out that between 1999 and 2001, Newton adopted an "anti-racist multicultural math" curriculum:
In 2001 [Superintendent Jeffrey] Young, Mrs. Wyatt and an assortment of other well-paid school administrators, defined the new number-one priority for teaching mathematics, as documented in the curriculum benchmarks, "Respect for Human Differences--students will live out the system wide core of 'Respect for Human Differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors."
It continues, "Students will: Consistently analyze their experiences and the curriculum for bias and discrimination; Take effective anti-bias action when bias or discrimination is identified; Work with people of different backgrounds and tell how the experience affected them; Demonstrate how their membership in different groups has advantages and disadvantages that affect how they see the world and the way they are perceived by others . . ." It goes on and on.
"Nowhere among the first priorities for the math curriculum guidelines is the actual teaching of math," Mountain observes. "That's a distant second." It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out why Newton's kids are falling behind.
Post lifted from Taranto
Is public education working? How would we know? "Imagine you're five feet eight inches tall. When you change the unit of measurement to yards, you're 1.9 yards tall. Are you shorter because the number is smaller? No. Or go to centimeters. Now you're 173 centimeters tall. Does the larger number make you taller? Of course not. Yet this is the effect we experience trying to judge the quality of public education in the U.S. There are so many different standards, all competing for mindshare with the public, it's almost impossible to know what's right any more. There are state standards. And in some states, such as California, there are multiple state standards. ... Some of these standards, like those of the No Child Left Behind Act, are new. We don't really know yet whether they're actually telling us what they say they are."
For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.
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