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Kids Teaching Kids?
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A Comment in an Email posted off-list

>  I don't want to send my kids to a school that wants to use them to teach
>  other kids.  I'm disturbed by your comment that tutorial "could be done by
>  the students themselves." If you're saying that the faster kids should be
>  conscripted to help the slower kids, then that's a huge problem.

What I am proposing is to have kids work together in activities that reinforce material that the teacher presents to the class.  That's what I mean by tutorial activities.  When a teacher is heavily engaged in tutorial activities that could be delegated to the students, the teacher is less able to assist and challenge all students.  Why?  Individualized educational planning requires active observation, troubleshooting, and one-on-one assessments.  It's not a zero-sum game where some kids are benefiting at the expense of others.  Even the high-performers are better off.  

NAEP data shows that from 1971 to the mid-1980s the test score gap dramatically narrowed while outcomes for the high performers steadily improved.  That was the era of "mainstreaming" students with special needs, the widespread rejection of ability-grouping, and school desegregation.  

As I noted before, K-12 education experts selected by the Reagan-Bush administration who produced the 1983 report, "A Nation at Risk," found that efforts by America's public schools to close the gap had gone too far.  What they were concerned about was the effect of closing the gap on the class structure of American society.  How do you justify huge income disparities without huge education disparities?

-Doug Mann