Zooming Out, Part 4

Some of my favorite people.

Robert Pondiscio, who teaches a civics class at Democracy Prep when he's not writing about ed policy, argues for a very specific approach to literacy in elementary school.  His paper here

Dacia Toll, describing how Achievement First -- pushed by the higher bar of Common Core -- is changing how they teach English, precisely aligned with Robert's paper, which is E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge argument. 

I blogged about that a few months ago here, mentioning both those vagabonds. 

For No Excuses charters, remember.  NY State has Common Core exams 2 years before other states.  Top charters like AF got hammered on the new, harder tests.  This led to a productive rethink of how reading is taught.  Since NYC is headquarters for AF, KIPP, and Uncommon -- all of whom have since learned from Success -- that is a change you need for your school.  If you haven't done it yet, you need to dig in here. 

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Tom Loveless, who I had back in 1997 for an intro to ed policy class, which kinda pulled me into this world, was describing research on de-tracking.   (None of which takes place in charters; most of it is 20 years old).  De-tracking in middle school math specifically.  At Wilson Central Junior High, back in 1982, my math class was "advanced" and then other kids were "regular." 

Some advocates argued tracking was bad.  So many middle schools stopped tracking.  Though almost no high schools, interestingly.

Anyway, Tom pushed against that narrative.  It was more complicated. 

Tom describes how de-tracking seems to create net winners and losers.  The winners are the low kids.  The losers are the high kids.  The average is zero. 

In typical high-poverty schools, the losers therefore are the top poor black or Hispanic kids. 

In the burbs, those schools are more likely to track.  And even when that doesn't happen, SWAT teams of tutors are hired by the parents.  So top kids in suburban schools are winners. 

His paper here.  Tom thinks the lower kids should get Common Core and the advanced kids should get something with a higher bar. 

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Okay, folks.  Thanks to Fordham Foundation and the speakers for the Zoom Out.  Good food for thought.