Friday, February 10, 2012

NCLB waivers and the achievement gap

New Mexico and ten other states applied for relief from strict accountability to NCLB bench marks. New Mexico's application was denied.

One of the reasons the application was denied; it did not address adequately, the elimination of achievement gaps between groups of students.

Government never questions the premise; students must perform "in groups".

Achievement gaps are individual; they represent the difference between individual potential and individual achievement.

Achievement gaps for groups; ethnic, racial, socioeconomic status, etc, exist only because someone decided to conglomerate individual statistics. Why conglomerate them?

The only gap we need to pay attention to is the gap between an individual child's potential and their achievement. If a "group" member closes their individual gap, the group statistic closes as well.

It is the government, not educators, insisting upon cemetery seating; five rows of six kids joined in a thought choir; thinking about the same things at the same time for twelve years. To prepare them for what? Where else in life will graduates be compelled to perform in groups of thirty people who have nothing in common but the year of their birth, moving at exactly the same speed, in exactly the same direction, for years at a time?

Education gets an A+ if it recognizes and addresses the individual needs of every student.

Public schools cannot succeed because of the oxymoronic relationship between individual student needs and the government's need for large group test performance.

There are entire industries built on addressing the education and testing of "groups" of students despite the abject failure of the premise; individual student needs can be met in large group settings. There is a lot of power and resources up for grabs. They will be split between the needs of individual students and needs of individuals employed in the industry of large group education and testing, in and out of government.

Education really is like herding kittens; especially in the primary grades. Students arrive with independent interests, abilities and motivation. Their kitten-like curiosity and excitement, rather than being exploited to teach them independent learning skills, is crushed instead by cemetery seating and group think.

You can't have it both ways. You cannot create lifelong independent learners and, insist upon herding them like sheep toward NCLB requirements based on their homogeneity.

No comments: