Monday, January 28, 2008

The Tracks of My Fears

Sorry for the awful attempt at humor in the title.

I'm a little bugged by a buzz that's going through my school right now, centering on our math classes.

As I'm sure in many schools, in a single math class, there are extremely wide disparities in student performance, ability, grasp of concepts, etc. More proficient students are complaining when the pace is too slow, and less proficient students shut down when faced with things they can't handle. To that end, there is talk of grouping students based on math ability. Proponents of this idea say that it will allow the students to be taught at an ability-appropriate level.

My fear is that this will turn into full blown tracking.

Any thoughts, suggestions, alternatives?


W Brown said...

If in each grade all the math classes are taught at the same time, would that eliminate all the ripple effect of the tracked math classes? For example, all freshmen math classes were taught 2nd period, this way they could go back to mixed ability the rest of the day. Is mixed ability classes a value for your school?

Anonymous said...

Imagine sitting in a Math B course when you haven't passed IMP Math or Math A. Of course, you're still with your cohort. What's more important?

W Brown said...

I think self respect might trump parabolas? Seniors in freshmen math classes tend not to produce glorious results.

Mr Tesler said...

I had an opportunity to speak to my team members about this. They agreed that full-blown tracking is not the intent here. They will try to set up a system similar to what the WB discussed.

Perhaps the key to a successful program such as this is in some way bypassing the stigma that traditional school has put into class groupings. Should it really matter if you're in a class with freshmen? If this is the class that you need to take, or it's appropriate for your level, should it really make a difference who's sitting next to you? Don't we have freshmen playing next to seniors on teams? In college, simply because of the courses we pick and choose, no one's ever in a class of all frosh, etc.

"They" say you have to graduate in four years. "They" are the ones who say you have to take this class first, then go here, etc. Aren't we all about going against what "they" say?