My thought for today involves "De-Tracking". This year as a book study we are reading the book "Detracking for Excellence and Equity". The general point is that schools track kids in their elementary years and then students are stuck in that track throughout high school.
For example ... a student is determined in 7th grade to do poorly in math. This may be done through state assessments, teacher observations, MAP scores, & amp; Grades. Now if we are honest, there are really only two true data assessments listed. Teacher observation and grades can be impacted by a ton of other factors. The point here is a student then gets assigned to a lower math track. They enter high school taking the lower level math or the math courses that spread out the course work over a longer period of time. When all is said and done, this student is always behind other students because they were tracked early on.
If you even look at data of your lower tracked kids, you will find some with higher scores than those who are tracked in the higher level courses who have low scores. Why wouldn't we have that low track student, who has higher scores, in the upper level courses? Is it fair that student will always be behind? Why is that lower scorer in the higher level track? I could go on and on.
But ... yes there is a but! There are multiple reasons why a student is place in a lower track. In many cases it revolves around student behavior. Most likely this student has issues that creates other challenges. If we place this student in the higher level course do we seem to be setting them up for failure?
Ok, I'm rambling but here's the key point as I see it .... It's not the tracking that's the issue. I've been in education for over 25 years and believe (will always believe) the key to the success of any student is the teacher. The relationship a teacher has with a student can not be overrated. This struggling student who performs well on assessments but struggles in class needs a teacher that has a relationship with him/her that will motivate the student. If a teacher has that relationship and the student is happy in their environment I believe the teacher has an opportunity to ask from that student a little more then what a student would normally give.
So ... while on paper de-tracking is the right step, I believe we have a lot of work with teachers to develop a classroom that can handle all students in a higher level track. Until we take the time to work with teachers and really ... convince teachers that they need to build the foundation (relationship) first. De-tracking will only lead to student frustration and failure.