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2002 School Board Campaign Begins   |   Doug Mann for School Board / "Closing the Gap"   |   Re: [Mpls] Doug Mann for School Board / "Closing the Gap"   |   Kids Teaching Kids?   |   What is Ability-Grouping?   |   Subj: Re: [Mpls] Audrey Johnson is running for re-election to the Board of Education   |   How to fix the public schools in Mpls? -Part One   |   How to fix the public schools in Mpls? -Part Two

How to fix the public schools in Mpls? -Part Two
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>  > In my opinion, "school choice" is a sham....
>  I can't argue that. Your ideas on bringing the schools closer together in
>  this regard are on the right track -- especially encouraging successful
>  teachers to go to schools who need them the most. Perhaps there is a way
>  to tie teacher pay to the improvement seen in their students, or to offer
>  larger pay increases to teachers who go to underimproving schools? Or does
>  the teacher's union oppose this sort of thing?
>
The teacher's union has not opposed incentive packages to encourage transfers to poor performing schools.  That's something that I have advocated.  The union has also agreed to the creation of teacher in training positions to spread around new teachers (it was a condition for participation in a class-size reduction program funded by the federal gov't).
But there may be some opposition within the union to desegregating all new, inexperienced teachers in this manner because it will, at least temporarily, reduce opportunities for teachers to transfer from school to school.
>  You mean that all third graders (of which one is mine) are not taking the
>  same NALT test? How does that affect the way they score them, do they
>  automatically penalize the lower level students? I know that my child's
>  results were incredibly focused on the ranking. In fact, other than some
>  broad curriculum areas (like "reading" or "writing) I don't recall much to
>  grab onto except where she stood related to her school, the district, and
>  the nation.
>  
The NALT test was designed for schools that differentiate the curriculum by ability-grouping / tracking.  There are differences in the content of the tests that reflect differences in the content of the curriculum that students are exposed to when ability-grouped.

Minnesota has an official classification scheme for ranking and grouping students (Levels i to iv).  The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test is used to pigeonhole students into one or another category.  While attending the MPS my son's ranking fell from year-to-year.  He registered less than half a year of growth per year in reading and math according to the MCAT.
>  My last test question: how about if the tests are administered
>  semi-anonymous but results are not disclosed to students or their parents?
>  Semi-anonymous so that demographics can be used to further the social
>  science the tests are used for, but such that no one (including school
>  administrators) ever knows which kids got which scores.
>  

Why keep parents / students in the dark?  I suspect you are concerned about labeling students.  However, children are generally ability grouped without any formal assessments.

A cookie cutter approach is almost invariable taken when sorting and grouping kids by "ability."  This is a bad idea because kids are smart in different ways, and have differing strengths and weaknesses academically.  There are differences in how kids process information.  There are differences in developmental patterns.

Reading is usually used as the marker for predicting a child's future academic performance and learning capacity. However, some of the underlying differences between children that affect how well they take to reading in the first grade disappear by the 3rd grade.

Most children have the cognitive abilities needed to learn how to read by the age of 5 years, and very few children are really not ready to read in that sense when they enter first grade.  However, fine motor control of the eyes has to develop to a point where reading can be done easily before a child can really take to reading.  That usually happens between the age of 5 and 8 years.  Girls tend to get to that point earlier than boys.

-Doug Mann