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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

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New Wake County magnet school survey and disputing that the student assignment plan is driving people away

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During today's news conference, Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata announced a new online survey on the magnet school program and pointed to an uptick in home sales to dispute allegations that the student assignment plan is driving people away.

Starting with magnet schools, click here to take a survey that will run through June 1. Wake will use the feedback from the survey as part of the review of the magnet school program.

Tata said part of the review is looking at whether the objectives of the magnet school program should be revised, including making student achievement one of the components. He said the achievement gaps in magnet schools are "pretty stark."

At the request of school board vice chairman Keith Sutton, whose Southeast Raleigh district contains many magnet schools, the ongoing review will look at student achievement in the magnet school program.

"A lot of people express interest or surprise that student achievement is nowhere in the magnet discussion with regard to objectives," Tata said. "As we review the objectives going forward, should that be part of the discussion? And that’s part of the review we’re going to have with the board.  

When you look at achievement gaps in magnet schools, they’re pretty stark. We’ve got to confront reality head on here and ask what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and where do we need to do it."

Tata also responded to how some Realtors and other critics of the new plan have charged that now that families are no longer guaranteed a specific school based on their address that newcomers are being scared away from moving to Wake. But Tata pointed to this month’s Triangle Area Residential Realty Report that showed that Wake County’s home sales, closings, showings and market share was up for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time last year under the old assignment plan.

"You’ve heard some people say that there were people walking away from Wake County and what the data shows is that we’ve increased market share," Tata said. "We’ve increased showings. We’ve increased closings for first quarter sales.

Second quarter sales may show something different, but in January, February and March when you had people saying this assignment plan was causing people to walk away from Wake County, what we saw was exactly the opposite. The data is showing that Wake County is performing very strongly in the real estate market, not only in the first quarter but relative to our neighbors. I think that’s relevant to the discussion that has been ongoing.”

The concerns of real estate agents are noted in the TAAR Report, which says that “for the first time, practitioners are dealing with buyers who are not selecting Wake due to perceived uncertainty about the choice-based plan.” But the report says its goal “is to be a fact-based voice of reason, not an emotional response based upon the experiences of a small sample set.”

Compared to the first quarter of 2011, the report found that for the first three months of 2012 that Wake saw a 24 percent increase in pending home sales, a 21 percent increase in closings and a 12 percent increase in showings. The report also found that Wake accounted for 54.9 percent of the Triangle’s home sales during the first quarter of 2012, up from 52.3 percent the same time in 2011.

"In summary, there is no way to determine a direct effect on the residential market due to the choice-based assignment plan," according to the report. "There are too many variables and it is not appropriate to tie the performance of the overall market to a certain demographic. Indirectly, given the large percentage of parents with schoolage children and the favorable Wake County metrics, it does not appear the market has reacted adversely."

The next stage in the assignment plan will come Tuesday when current students will get notices sent home with them listing their 2012-13 school assignment. Letters will be mailed to newcomers.

Tata said the assignments on the May 15 letters could still change because they’re planning to place people on waitlists through at least June 29.

Starting Tuesday and running through June 1, families who don’t like their assignment for this fall can file a transfer request. Transfers that are rejected by staff can be appealed to the school board.

“Transfers will be granted on a limited basis related to hardship,” Tata said.

1347246643 New Wake County magnet school survey and disputing that the student assignment plan is driving people away The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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UNC

I'm not sure UNC is at the top of my list anymore (well, my son's) after listening to these admission requirements.  I raise my kids to be intelligent, but well-balanced human beings.  These kids are going to be so burnt-out.  It's interesting to check out some of the things on College Confidential to see what HYPSM is even looking for anymore.  You might be surprised.  It seems that the interview can make or break you and if these kids are so maxed out on AP classes they aren't going to even be able to think straight much less interview well.  For the mental health of my kids for the long-term I'm going to try and help them focus on living in the moment while planning for the future.  You can only be a kid once and the last time I checked, high-schoolers were still kids. 

I agree that the kids are

I agree that the kids are getting pushed too hard.  If that's their passion and they really want to do it, then that's great.  But it seems that too many kids are doing all of these things because they 'should'. 

Question re: AP classes and GPA

I was reading further down the thread about the "culture" at Enloe to take lots of AP classes even if you get a lower grade versus culture at Green Hope to focus on getting As rather than taking lots of AP classes. Given the wcpss weighted grading scale that gives 4.0 for an A in a standard class, 5.0 for A in honors class and 6.0 for A in AP class - isn't getting a "C" is AP the same as a "B" in honors or "A" in regular from the perspective of GPA? Any thoughts as to whether colleges focus on letter grades without consideration of weighting (they view an "A" in honors as better than a "B" in AP) or do they see it from a "weighted" perspective as well where they view a "B" in AP the same as getting an "A" in honors classes? 

all different

I've just gone through college admissions with my son, and each school he applied to seemed to have a slightly different philosophy on that. Some places used unweighted GPA. This means that though they were aware of the level of the class taken (standard, honors or AP), the actual letter grade was important to them. Other places used the weighted GPA. Some schools place relatively little value on class rank, others much more, etc., etc. He applied to two UNC schools, and 5 out-of-state smaller schools.

limited experience

I've sat through the admissions spiel at four of the UNC campuses over that last few months with my child, a rising senior. At Chapel Hill, they said that they use the weighted GPA, they look for no more than one or two B's, at least 7-8 AP courses, class rank, ACT/SAT scores, the essay, where the student graduated from (they have a record of each high school), and activities. The other campuses (ECU, UNCW, AppSt) said basically the same thing, but at a lower achievement level.  At Chapel Hill a parent interupted the speaker because the parent thought the admissions officer misspoke when she said 7-8 AP courses. She assured him that that is what she meant (thank goodness I don't have to get in). 

Enloe has an insanely competitive top end - I understand that the top kids often have one or more tutors - so the only way a kid can be at the top is with as many AP/honors courses as they can take. A kid can be reasoanbly bright but not crack the top 30% there (my kid), so it's not the right school for everyone. 

Thanks - UNC-CH seems to have some conflicting messages

These posts got me curious, so I went to the UNC-CH site and ran across this post about how they view GPA. It seems to have a rather different tone to it than the speaker.

http://unc-admissions.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-your-gpa-doesnt-tell-us.html

"...When we review your application for admission, we don’t look at your GPA. And we don’t try to re-calculate it or do any kind of crazy mathematical voodoo to it. Instead we look carefully at your transcript. We look at the courses you have taken over your four years of high school, while also considering what kinds of courses your school offers. We look at the grades you’ve gotten, taking note of any trends. Maybe math is your downfall and all of your math grades are slightly lower than your other grades. Well, I can certainly sympathize with that. Math was never my strong suit either. Maybe you have one blip of a C in World Geography. Not the end of the world. Maybe you had a rocky start to high school but your grades have steadily improved over the last couple years. We love to see that...."

Frankly, lately I'm thinking this particular alma mater of mine needs to focus on getting its house in order before making it sound like only super geniuses need apply ;-)

I'm an alum too, my Enloe daughter didn't get in...

I've heard different stories about UNC-CH too.  The official reps at the college panels I've attended give the story you've shared from their blog.  The story I've heard from other parents jives more with the "7-8 AP classes, no more than 1 or 2 B's".  My daughters' counselor said if your GPA is under 3.5 there's no way you're getting in from Enloe (that's unweighted).  My daughter's is like 3.3.  She didn't get in, but it wasn't her first choice, so it was ok.

We were told by a guidance counselor friend at a non-magnet high school here that there is an unofficial "quota" of Enloe students that can be accepted at UNC-CH.  They can't/won't accept students who otherwise would probably be accepted if they had attended another high school.  (The thought is they would have a higher rank at a non-Enloe high school.)  That's why some elementary/middle school magnet families want their kids to go back to "the base" for high school.  I have no idea if any of this is true.  I do know that my other daughter was considering taking a 3rd AP class next year which would require her to "waive" her lunch period.  This is crazy and I wouldn't have signed off on it.  When I asked her why, she said she felt like a slacker because the other kids are taking 3 or more APs next year.  She recognized that this was not going to be a good thing, and that she was just feeling competitive.

same

Same with my kid - she felt she needed to take 3 AP's at Enloe next year, but it would have been killer for her and we convinced her otherwise. When we attended the info session at UNC-Chapel Hill, the woman gave the same "we don't look at your GPA" as on the blog, but that was immediately followed by "you better not have more than one or two B's" (my kid has a dreaded "C" from last year!). The requirements have gotten insane. Luckely for us the fit at UNC for our kid is not good for several reaons, so no tears over not getting into UNC. 

I imagine that some

I imagine that some (many?)  high schools in NC don't even offer 7 or 8 AP classes.  It would be interesting to see the percentage of kids from each WCPSS high school who apply and get into Chapel Hill. 

Do you get the quality point on your GPA if you take the AP class but not the exam?

Jenman...

The AP Exam is a separate exam administered by (I believe) College Board.  Home-schooled students can even take the exam.  It is my understanding that the AP Exam and the AP courses are completely separate.  The AP course is to prepare you for the AP Exam.

 

true

This year's valedictorian at Enloe got straight As, as did the Saludatorian. The only difference was the valedictorian took AP Calculus his freshman year, and the extra quality point for that A was the only difference between the two. The other kid didn't take any APs until sophomore year. 

MOE's and choices

I think one of the biggest problems in WCPSS right now is the lack of electives in middle schools. Just when kids should be out there exploring all the interests they can, they get stuck in a few boring electives and few options to get out to something different. Having said that, I think it is unfair to place all the blame on magnet schools and this ban on offering certain electives. It is clear, that part of the issue is the way that principals make decisions about how to use their MOEs. For instance, theoretically all middle schools have MOEs that can be used for foreign language instruction, and some do use them that way, but many don't. They use those MOEs for other needs the principal feels are more pressing, especially if they lose a foreign language teacher and can't find a new one right away. If you talk to people who've had several kids go through the same middle school they'll often talk about how "we used to have Spanish" but then the teacher left and we never got it back. Those MOEs didn't go away (unless there was a massive change in population for the school), the principal just chose to go a different way with them.

In a another example, in a magnet school, there is enormous pressure on the principal to protect electives above all else. At Martin several years ago, due to budget cuts, the school was going to lose at least one teacher position. An 8th grade English teacher had already announced her intention to leave and rather than replace her, the principal chose to reorganize the 8th grade out of teams, and make each English class larger so that they could do with one less English teacher and used the English teacher's MOE's to save an elective teacher's position. I think in most traditional schools, that is not the decision that would have been made.

And, I have an example of that too actually. West Cary lost a lot of students several years ago when a new school opened and pulled a lot of their students out due to reassignment. They were facing losing a lot of teachers because the student population had dropped. The principal chose to lay off almost all the elective teachers in order to save all of her core teachers. In fact, she laid off so many elective teachers, she had to re-hire several over the summer when she realized there was no way that every child in the school could take band since she was down to two electives for the whole school. Prohibitions against magnet offerings had nothing to do with that principal's decision--she had electives she chose to cancel because her priority was keeping the school in teams, and keeping class sizes quite low (since she was splitting far fewer students among the same number of core teachers).

Perhaps Tata hasn't gotten around to it yet, but he doesn't seem to have any problem with schools offering whatever they want, so I can't imagine that this prohibition against electives will last, if it is even in effect any more. The question is, will middle school principals decide to use their MOEs for more electives, or continue to utilize them in different areas.

First, I agree that the

First, I agree that the restrictions on non-magnet schools has been largely lifted.  I think schools have a lot more leeway in what they want to offer than before. 

Second, I also agree that middle schoolers need more electives to choose from.  I'm in favor of all middle schools having 2 elective periods per day.  Middle school is the time to try things that students might not have time for in high school.  Or that they might feel nervous about taking because they don't want to 'ruin' their GPAs.  There are so many requirements for college and other paths in HS that it seems like the students don't have time to just 'be' and figure out who they are. 

Been curious about that...

I think the restrictions came from the Superintendent's office, and not from the Board, so it's not really clear whether they have been lifted.  However, it would surprise me if Tata knowingly let them continue.

However, I have heard anecdotal evidence about district principals saying that they can't do something, because they can't compete with the magnets. And, I've heard anecdotal evidence of a principal believing that the restriction was in place, but bucking it anyway.  There seems to be a long institutional memory -- the best way to deal with this would be for the board to specifically say "base schools are unrestricted in the electives they can offer."  [Assuming appropriate district-wide restrictions on subject matter that apply equally to base and magnet schools.  No electives on "home firework making," for example.]

I've been very curious about

I've been very curious about this as well.  I have looked for an actual policy on this and can't find one.  It seems to be an unwritten rule that isn't enforced evenly.

When we were at Joyner several years ago, they started Friday Clubs as a 5th special.  They were 1/4 long and the teachers came up with the classes themselves based on their own skills & interests and what they thought the kids would like.  We had cheerleading, lacrosse, legos, and a bunch of other ones to pick from.  It was approx 45 min once a week and the school was told to stop offering them because it was competing with magnets like Hunter.  Ridiculous.

A couple of years after we went back to WWF, they started a similar program to add in a 5th special and I was really surprised that they were able to do so without being told to stop.  It was great and gave the kids some neat opportunities.  One group did a little mini musical. 

Other schools have gotten around it by having their programs before or after school.  I think Wiley and Lead Mine (maybe it's Lynn) have school bands. I think that's awesome, but you've got to have a really dedicated teacher who is willing to do it on their own time with no extra pay. 

I definitely agree that we need an actual policy on this. 

Lead Mine Band

Just to clarify, the Lead Mine and Wiley Elementary band programs are private before / after school programs with tuition and a non-Wake County director (She runs her own business.).  The program is great if you can pay the price but it's disappointing that magnet schools offer a similar program during the school day for free.  Most of the tuition goes to cover the facility rental fee that Wake County charges so I can't imagine that it's a very profitable experience for the director.

Thank you for that info! 

Thank you for that info!  I'd heard of those bands but I had no idea how they worked.  Very interesting.  It's great for kids to have those opportunities but like you said, only if you can pay the price. 

real estate

Unfortunately newcomers will now consider surrounding counties when moving here. This is already starting to happen which will drive down wake county real estate. It is unfortunate but with children being forced into new feeder patterns/multiple schools per neighborhood etc people will now have a harder time selecting wake county

Still no proof I see

Got it.

Prove it Sam

Got any proof?

Fact is, as stated below, your issue is with your inept board rep. Until you, and those like you, change that, nothing changes for you.

that is nonsense

Assignment has been a crap shoot here for the last 20 years. My brother was assigned to 2 different high schools in the late 80's, started at one, was not grandfathered in because he was only a sophomore, and had to finish at another. I had stability because I got into a magnet school. 

The wonderful thing now is that as a parent I get to choose where my kids go. I am no longer at the 5th most proximate school, I am at my 2nd most proximate school - and I chose it for them. For the first time my kids will have access to foreign language and band and strings and art because the school is not under enrolled and therefore not under funded. 

Your problem is your board member, he believes in demographic balance above all else (including academic achievement), which is why your neighborhoods got moved from the upper tier to the middle tier of the district for high school. 

I am thrilled to be out of D3 and have no intention of ever choosing a school in D3 - ever.

That is far from nonsense

That is far from nonsense for some people. There is an element of truth in what he says. I wouldn't go around buying a house with much enthusiasm if the schools were listed as "Wake Cty School District". That is just plain daft to be told your child's school will be some school in a list as opposed to a specific school. If someone thinks this wouldn't have an impact on the desirability of some properties, I believe it is a fallacy.

Can't find your proof?

Or did you just misplace it?

Prove it

Where's your proof?

Fact is, they will triple, maybe quadruple, the property taxes of those of us who do not flee to make up for all the lost revenues from the 42-50 people who won't move here over the next 5 years because of the school system and it's assignment plan.

And if you believe that, then you really do have zero idea of what's gone on here for the last several decades.

Would you have been...

happy even if you got the 3rd or 5th choice since you "chose" it? Or are you happy because you got your first choice?

me personally?

I would have been happy with choices 1-3. My 4th and 5th choices would not have made me happy because they represent the educational poverty we have been living with for years.

You have to understand, we were force bused for 11 years into the rim to title I schools and moderate (47%) F&R schools. I did what our (democrat) people wanted me to do - I showed up, I stayed, I volunteered, I advocated. It did not help at all, we continue to be underfunded, under enrolled (although thanks to new "boutique" small school status - Martin's words - we are now on the increase). These schools suffer from educational poverty - lack of opportunity and enrichment. I won't do it for one more day.

Magnet schools...

should have an entrance exam - Fairfax County (VA) schools do this at all levels, I think. Change the name from magnet to achievement or something. Those who get in, get in. Those who don't, don't. No bitching about lottery and special nodes.

Smart kids get in, have opportunities to improve. Not so smart kids don't get in. Simple.

how is that fair?

Not so smart kids don't deserve opportunities to improve?  Isn't that one of  the basic arguments about the disparities between magnet and nonmagnet schools?

The parents of the not-so-smart kids pay taxes along with the parents of the smart kids.  If you don't think parents would bitch about this you are wrong.

Nice. So you are...

suggesting that we dumb down the entire system to the common denominator?

Most complaints now are about how kids get into magnet schools, i.e., the lottery system and other quotas that apply. The entrance exam would eliminate all the complaints is what I am saying. The smart kids would get the extra electives and more opportunities to excel.

Actually, your approach dumbs down the system

Your approach is called tracking. Certain kids are deemed "smart" and others "not smart". The deemed to be "smart" kids get put on the "smart" track with lots of rigor and enrichment, the rest get only dumbed down instruction with little or no enrichment on the "not smart" track and it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is plenty of information available indicating that when all students are subject to higher expectations, rigor and enrichment overall performance increases.

got off point..

You missed the point of the original post that started this thread. In Fairfax County VA they have Thomas Jefferson Magnet High School for high AG kids. There is no tracking - you take an entrance exam and you either get in or you don't. I have friends who 2 of their 4 kids scored well enough to get in, so it's not rigged (the other two btw had great high school experiences as well). The concept is that a school district spends a lot of its resources on bringing remedial kids up to speed, and this can be unfair to high AG kids who may not get the resources they need to live up to their high potential. For some reason TJ has more boys than girls, and so the motto for girls who go there is "the odds are good, but the goods are odd". Maybe it's time for the WCPSS to go this direction, and not just for AG, but for the arts, etc. 

I am not personally familiar with Fairfax

As others guessed correctly, I honed in on the all levels. Based on the subsequent exchanges, we seem to be on similar wavelengths. The only sticking point for me is the concept of associating high potential to AG.

My elementary school's philosophy was that all kids have high potential just may be in different ways or timeframe (got deeply ingrained), so I get uncomfortable at the suggestion that some have more "potential" than someone else. Growing up the concept that some aren't better than others, just different, was ingrained in general.

What about kids who have high potential in the arts or high potential in a certain vocation? Are they given the resources to live up to their potential? Do we give them all separate schools? What about the kids that have high potential in multiple areas, say they are AG reading and also high potential in art or dance, which school should they attend?

Even at the high school level it is hard to predict the outcome for some -

Original post

The original post says that Fairfax does this at "all levels".  If that's the case, the issue isn't just how entrance is granted to high schools but to elementary and middle schools also.  I'm not in favor of this approach but at least making the decision at the high school level using an entrance exam could be an objective selection method.  I don't think there's any reasonable way to make this decision for elementary school admissions.  Even middle school admissions are likely to have problems.  The research I talked about below was based on testing students in later years then comparing the results to retesting a few years later.  If the results are so unstable, how would schools decide who is high AG?   

Not that I know of...

I am not aware of testing at all levels in Fairfax County - only the TJ entrance exam. I agree with you - testing for AG at anytime below the high school level is dicey at best. My experience with the WCPSS AG is that the district is very hesitant to pull someone from AG status once they test in, and hesitant as well to update a status. I have two kids who tested AG earlier on - one the first time they took the test, and the other the second time. The first kid has not been able to keep up well with the AG curriculum as it transitioned into high school. The other, who is rated "moderate need", hits the middle school EOC/EOG scores (and classroom grades) out of the park (straight A's with 98+ percentile scores) but he stays as moderate need (part of this may be that he's quiet and not asian so he gets ignored, but that's another issue). Labeling kids "smart" and "not smart" at an early age is not a smart thing to do, in my opinion. 

I don't believe testing is

I don't believe testing is done at all levels in Fairfax County either. We have family up there that bought a million dollar house in Great Falls to get their son in the elementary school there and out of the one he was assigned to in Reston. I don't think they had to go through any testing - just had to move.

Yes

That's what I've heard as well about AG.  I've also heard that it's difficult to get into the AG program if you move here from somewhere else, even if you were considered AG at your previous school. 

Personally, I think this idea of testing for AG using a mass-administered test on 8 year olds is very questionable.  Even under the best of circumstances, which is likely to be the case in the research situations I talked about, the results were found to be unstable.  I can't imagine how unstable the results are for the way we do it.  Of course, we don't know because we only retest a small number of students, and those are always students who did not make AG the first time as far as I know.  Yet, as the post above discusses, the self-fulfilling nature of the enrichment the AG students get likely supports the idea that the testing works because of subsequent achievement levels.  (There's a great book called Pygmalion in the Classroom that discusses this phenomenon.  We also had some speakers at the ED Task Force meetings who talked about this.)

Yes...

Hd an interesting discussion with a psychologist about this.  The CogAT and ITBS are administered largely because they're inexpensive and they're susceptible to being given to a lot of students at the same time, not because they do a fantastic job of correctly identifying the AG students.  Compare that to the WISC-IV, for example, which is generally done one-on-one with a psychologist.  

Luckily, of a parent thinks that the schools' AG testing incorrectly failed to identify their kids as AG, they do have the option of turning to private testing which isn't really all that expensive.  The tested differences can be dramatic, especially if the child has attention issues, which can be a problem on mass-administered tests.

In addition, what about the

In addition, what about the idea that we've talked about here before that many of these kids reach these levels of achievement partly because they are exposed to this enrichment and held to high expectations in the first place?

I could maybe get behind entrance exams/requirements of some specialized high schools (arts, AG) but definitely not for elem or middle school. 

I agree

That's one reason I don't support this concept even at the high school level.  I'd  rather see objective criteria for admissions, but I agree that earlier enrichment can lead to higher levels of achievement.  The ED task force was told about a student who was originally excluded from the advanced math track at a middle school then, when they placed him at the higher level, had the highest score on the EOC for the entire school. 

I also think that students are not necessarily high achieving in all subjects.  In fact, many brilliant people I have met excel in one area but not others.  I'd rather see schools accommodate specific areas of excellence through some means other than specialized schools.

I agree completely

I'll never forget hearing someone on a radio interview one time saying that K-12 is the only time that everyone is expected to excel at everything at the same level. As adults we often joke how bad we are at math, or English, or history, and it doesn't matter because we've created our lives such that we can avoid what we have trouble with. But 10-year-olds are considered a failure if they excel in only a few areas. We all need to learn the basics in every area, but the expectation that being bright means being equally talented and interested in every possible academic area is absurd.

Interesting thought and very

Interesting thought and very true!

Also

I agree, particularly about the self-fulfilling part.

As part of the discussion about how to determine placement for middle school math, we also found research that shows that the students deemed to be "smart" (based on tests like the CogAT) at one grade level are often not the same students who score in the top percentiles several years later.  If we based placement in these schools on testing before entering elementary school, not only are the tests likely to be highly inaccurate due to the age of the students but the "qualifying" students would change after a few years.  Then what?

Aptitude versus achievement

The fact that so many kids are under-achieving is a huge problem WCPSS does not seem willing to address.

CoGAT measures cognitive aptitude, a rough proxy for IQ, because we aren't allowed to talk about the fact that some kids actually are smarter than other kids.When kids show high cognitive ability, they are supposed to be very good at school stuff. Those kids should be doing very well in school and are in fact capable of working at levels much higher than average students. The  EOGs measure achievement, which is did you learn what we meant to teach you?  We don't ever re-assess cognitive ability after 3rd grade-we screen to get a general idea of which kids have very high aptitude then we measure only achievement over time.  If a bright kid is losing ground on achievement tests compared to his peers, that is a very big problem that schools should be addressing.  Why is unfulfilled potential OK for any child? That's what we should be using the test for, interventions for kids who aren't achieving despite strong aptitude.

Unless you believe that public school makes kids stupid, bright kids don't suddenly lose loads of IQ points after 3rd grade, which is why we test then, using the CoGAT only because, as Bob pointed out, it's relatively easy and cheap to administer. Some people seem to believe that if kids under-achieve it's because they were never smart in the first place. I don't buy that. There is some margin of error on the tests, but kids don't "accidentally" score very high on the CoGAT if they only have average cognitive abilities. They may only achieve at average levels on the EOG in spite of their high aptitude, which is the real problem.

Problems

The problem I see is that the mass-administered tests given to 8 year olds are not reliable.  Just because the test is cheap and easy to administer doesn't justify using it to permanently make placements for students.  From what I've read, even when the test is given under ideal conditions, the group of students identified as "high aptitude" will differ if the test is administered a few years later.  That means we are making two kinds of errors: labeling kids as high aptitude when they may not in fact be and failing to label others as high aptitude when they are.  We have no idea about the error rate because we rarely retest.  That doesn't even address the fact that the standards for labeling the students within the AG program seem to be very unevenly applied.  Given these problems, I think we need to rethink our early identification process. 

exactly right

"They may only achieve at average levels on the EOG in spite of their high aptitude, which is the real problem"

the stagnation of the higher learners is well documented, not just in WCPSS but all over.

 

dumbing down?

I have no idea how you read that into my comments.

Again I ask the same question.  Why do you think only smart kids are entitled to extra electives and more opportunities to excel?  If you look at the sorts of electives offered I don't see how being smarter than average enters into the equation.  And what about the kids who are gifted in areas that wouldn't be on a standardized test, like the arts?  And this would not eliminate all complaints.  How would this work?  Every child who scores above X is guaranteed a seat?  Or WCPSS would fill seats starting with the highest scores and work down? 

I agree with you on this. 

I agree with you on this.  These programs are beneficial to all students.  The only exception for me would be entrance in the AG programs which I described in detail (too much perhaps?) in an earlier post.  If we are going to accept kids into AG who have a Very Strong rating in both subjects first, then move down from there, then we need to be doing it across the board and not within the priority rounds.  A kid who is only moderate in both subjects but lives in the 'right' neighborhood should not be getting a seat before a kid who is very strong but lives in the 'wrong' neighborhood.

How we accept kids into AG programs and the issue of how we label kids AG is the first place is another discussion that I am open to having.  My view above is based on how we currently do it.

Otherwise I agree that exposure to enhanced curriculum and different teaching methods can benefit all students, no matter how 'smart' they are. 

This man is awesome. He does

This man is awesome. He does what the magnet program does (allocate extra resources to fill schools) without paying heed to achievement and now wakes up to something "pretty stark". I hope his path to enlightenment doesn't cost us much.

our stark reality

was made long before Tata even entered the Broad, he is just the first one to publicly acknowledge it and think it is wrong. For those of us who have been looking at EVAAS data for 3 years now calling it stark is an understatement - it is disturbing. To know for years what damage those schools have done to children and to have no one listen has been very, very disturbing.  There are many who have refused to even look at the data because it defied what they "knew to be true." 

These children matter, they deserve a school system that values them and is committed to educating them. 

I agree.  Things haven't

I agree.  Things haven't moved as quickly as I would like them to but what Tata has done in huge.  He is facing some major resistance to addressing these issues and I think he knows that he has to move slowly.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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