This reading about tracking in the classroom really hit me in the face. It made me question my job as a parent. Although an IEP protected my son's rights in the classroom, and provided him with services that he very much needed, I look back and feel that now, his experience in school wasn't as fulfilling or enriched as it could have been. He was always in an inclusion class, but after reading this piece, I realize that he had fewer opportunities than students in higher achievement classrooms. I remember words like "gifted" being used in his school, and I accepted it. Over the years, I saw other children doing certain projects from the gifted groups and thought, wow what a great hands on experience. I wonder why my son isn't doing that project? Forgive me, I'm not taking away the fact that he needed the IEP, but he always knew the teachers placed him figuratively as a child that didn't have the ability of others. Does an IEP automatically place that child in a group as someone without ability? Not all cases, but in this case, I feel yes. So, with that being said, I agree with many aspects of the reading. That tracking can in fact affect the quality of learning in the classroom. That the higher achieving students have more opportunities, higher confidence the way that teachers treat them, and an overall greater learning experience. "One fact about tracking is unequivocal: tracking leads to substantial differences in the day to day learning experiences students have in school. " I wish I could turn the clock back and have a do-over. My sons education experience at the elementary level seemed to be more about goals, and IEP objectives, rather than maybe focusing on the things he could do, and build on that. I'm not saying every teacher was like this, but just imagine, art work being displayed in the hall ways every month of every year, and it took until fifth grade to finally see that teacher hang your child's work. An artist he is not, but just take a minute to think how this could've affected his confidence and self-esteem. He never really enjoyed school. Wow. I wonder why. "Students who need more time to learn appear to get less; those who have the most difficulty learning seem to have fewer of the best teachers."
So what are the alternatives? With such extreme differences in students abilities, and how they learn, how do we not track?? The reading also mentions how tracking can affect the average students as well. That teachers expect very little from them. "When classes are conducted this way, average students, too, are deprived of the best that schools have to offer. " Finding an alternative would require a huge change. I'm going to leave this with one last quote. There are so many I could've pulled from this reading. "Prevailing beliefs about the limits of ability are critical. Unless teachers and administrators believe and expect all students to learn well, they will be unlikely to create school and classroom conditions where students believe in their own ability and exert the effort it takes to succeed. How profound.
Here is a link to the NEA about tracking.... a good read as well. http://www.nea.org/tools/16899.htm
This subject was an eye opener, and tough to share. I'm not sure if my son would appreciate me connecting him to this assignment, but how could I not. Those of you who aren't parents, will understand some day. Those of you who are, I'm sure you can feel my frustration. As parents we try and do everything the best we can; what we feel is right as a true advocate for our child.
Points to discuss in class... how can we avoid tracking? how can teachers see the true ability in a child when statistics are given to them about the child?