chrism39's Blog

Mar. 24, 2008 at 5:03pm

northend schools

I am new to this blog forum and was wondering if their are any other parents who feel as though their child is being unequally treated. When I say unequally I am talking about placing high achieving kids in one class and lower achieving kids in another. I am talking about essentially tracking kids by what looks like socioeconomic distinctions. I am also talking about singling out the same children for positive rewards again and again. Maybe i am just paranoid, but I thought I would ask.

comments [5]  |  posted under north end schools unfair


by jenyum on 3/24/2008 @ 6:24pm
I don't know if I've personally seen that, but I'm sure it varies a lot from school to school and teacher to teacher.

Which school do your kids attend?

by jcbetty on 3/24/2008 @ 6:41pm
I've only got a kindergartener, and I can't say that I've seen anything like that in my kid's class so far, but as it stands in my situ, there's one kindergarten class for full day K and the other's half-day; next year it stands to reason that the full day kids will be better prepared for first grade... I think they mix up the classes pretty arbitrarily/evenly, though.

I will say that even at the K level, there seem to be the kids who get frequent pats on the back; I've got a smart kid whose been known to be suirrely, so she gets a lot of "stay on task"-ing, while these star kids are getting props. I suppose, if I had a kid who was smart and quick, who had to wait for the less smart ones and the squirrely ones, I'd be hoping the teacher would be patting my kid on the back for good behavior. AND equally, I'd hope the teacher was giving positive reinforcements to all the kids, to encourage them at all levels.

My best advice would be to keep really open lines of communication with other parents, the teacher, adn the school's administration. Problems can only be fixed if they're recognized, identified, and acknowledged...

by fredo on 3/24/2008 @ 8:45pm
At my daughter's elementary school in Tacoma, the Principal and the teachers from each grade divide up the incoming students at the beginning of the year. I don't think it's by perceived abilities but there may be some students who belong most appropriately with one particular teacher, and are placed accordingly. If there is a particular clique in the previous grade, those children may be divided up.

The classes do divide up when its time for reading into 3 sections. There are the slow readers, the medium readers, and the fast readers. I suppose if your child ended up in a group you were unhappy with, you could spend more time at home on his reading skills or study habits.

One thing I think you should be aware of in the Tacoma Public Schools is that some teachers take excessive advantage of vacation time, sick leave, and family leave. If your student is unlucky enough to get one of these then he will have many substitute teachers and an uneven application of the lesson plan. Continuity is completely compromised, apparently with the School Board's blessing. For reasons of privacy, or because of their union contract you won't be able to find out in advance who these slackers are. This is another one of the public school system's dirty little secrets.

by SouthEnd on 3/24/2008 @ 9:04pm
I am a school teacher thah teaches in a school that is ability grouped. I teach 6th grade and have looped with my kids (I had them last year in 5th grade).

My reading group is what you would consider the "low" group. Their fluency rate was very low (how fast they read, which is one indicator of a proficient reader) and their vocabulary was also lagging (another good indicator). When they walked into my room last year, I had 5 or so out of 17 that passed the WASL. At the end of their 5th grade year, I had 13 pass the WASL.

What I tell my students is that I get you where you are - Shaq is a great basketball player, but he needs to work on shooting free throws. Our "free throws" were fluency & vocabulary (and writing, which is a whole other story). That is nothing to be ashamed of, only something to work toward.

I am very proud of my kids - I tell them there is no low group - they are in my room to work on some specific skills to become better readers, just as the "high" groups is in their room to work on specific skills.

This system has worked - I have moved kids out of my room when they no longer need those skills to a "higher" group. It is very fluid and kids know they can be moved up or down depending on their needs.

Last story - I had a kid last year that operated at about a 2nd grade reading level and writing level (maybe even lower in writing). This student was in special education during his entire school life. This year, he was moved out of special education because he had progressed that much. I was glad to have him in the "low" group - if he had been placed in the "high" group, he would have failed because his skill set was different than that group. My class offered the skills he needed. The stigma that is attached to being in the "low" group needs to stop - the kids will know if their parents continually harp on the fact they are lower than other students. Celebrate their successes, but make sure they are challenged. My "low" group is now reading 7th grade passages because I made them and their skills have progressed enough to do this.

As for teachers that take a lot of time off, that happens in all jobs...and it affects every type of job..I have missed roughly 4 days in four years.....


by fredo on 3/24/2008 @ 9:26pm
Good to hear from an actual teacher on these subjects, Pat.
You seem genuinely engaged in your students and I think we could use more teachers just like you.

My comment about teachers taking excessive time off was not meant to imply that other professions don't have slackers. In most work places the slackers can be avoided or ignored. However in the case of elementary school teachers, frivolous absenses cause a real derailment in the learning process and many students are affected. The behavior of the teacher also sends a negative message: "when you grow up you don't really need to work hard."

Thanks again for your insightful posting.


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