My View II: Where We Are Left on GATE

Barbara Archer speaks on Thursday
Barbara Archer speaks on Thursday

The Davis Enterprise this week strangely ignited a side-issue on GATE/AIM – what was the initial purpose of the program? I find it interesting that the returning of the program to its initial purpose “designed only for students who had significant trouble learning in a regular classroom” was part of the paper’s justification for supporting the revisions to the plan.

On the contrary, given the Superintendent’s admission in September that their identification tools do not discern between high ability and high achievement, I think raising the bar to the 98th percentile actually achieves the opposite result –it makes the high achievement portion more pronounced rather than less pronounced.

We need to take a few steps back here as there are several issues that need to be addressed. Originally, I was hopeful that the Superintendent could craft a proposal that everyone can support. That this reached a 5-0 vote is a bit misleading. The divisions in the community remain far deeper than perhaps the divisions on the board itself.

It is important to note that the board was supportive in unanimity on all changes but the qualification score. Here, Madhavi Sunder’s support for this motion remains more strategic than substantive. She clearly recognized that this was the best she could get.

Madhavi Sunder late on Thursday/early on Friday said, “I’m prepared to support this motion, largely, but the reason I was more prepared to support the Superintendent’s motion is because of the slower nature of the phase-in. I think it’s incredibly important to monitor it.”

She added that she was prepared to support this because the motion preserved “the ability to monitor next year, but I do think going slower would have been a better course of action.”

Of chief importance to Ms. Sunder was the identification of high ability students in diverse populations. She said, “If it’s not working then I’m going to make the case that we not continue it.” She argued that, by voting for the motion tonight, she preserves her ability to bring it back in the future.

My original hope was that if the board crafted a policy which everyone could agree on, the community would be able to move forward. Despite the 5-0 vote, I don’t see this as resolved in any way, shape or form. And while some board members clearly did not want it to come back next year – I see no way to avoid it.

SB-Nov-04

As a public commenter put it on Thursday, this is the opening salvo of the 2016 School Board elections, where it seems likely that Susan Lovenburg and Alan Fernandes will seek reelection and where their votes on the GATE/AIM issue may become the central part of the campaign.

Earlier this week I noted that the parcel tax support is far more fragile than it has been in the past. Part of that is the improving fiscal situation, part of that seems to be a growing frustration with the way in which this issue was handled. In the past week, I have seen some former stalwarts of parcel tax questioning whether they will support the next one.

Given that we have no idea how deep that anger goes and whether people will actually pull the trigger on it – it is possible despite some misgivings, when push comes to shove, calmer heads will prevail – a more measured approach would be better.

I will say I was a bit surprised when longtime school board member Susan Lovenburg called this the most important issue facing the board. I think long-term funding and the achievement gap clearly rank higher. It is for that reason that I am disappointed in this outcome.

As a believer that major public policy changes should be rooted in evidence-based approaches, I am troubled by the lack of foundation for changes to the qualification score. Once again, on Thursday, Superintendent Winfred Roberson acknowledged that there was no “hard science” here in supporting one qualification score over another.

While I understand that many are very much concerned over the identification process – the other motions spoke strongly toward cleaning that process up. The district is ending its much criticized private testing aspect of identification. It is streamlining the retesting procedures to have a much more stringent protocol determining when and how students will be retested.

Any real problems in the program seemed to rest there, rather than in the size and scope of the program.

Even the strongest supporters of the change did not seem to articulate a reason for the 98th percentile. Efforts to link it to June 4 motion seem specious at best.

That being said, the outcome of what these changes will mean remains unknown. That is why phasing in the qualification scores was critical. By implementing the changes to the protocols first, we could assess what changes those will bring. By adding increases to the qualification scores later, we could assess their impacts independent of each other.

It was important, if not cited, to recognize why those needed to be separate processes. Making too many changes at once risks not being able to assess which changes produce which result. That would be extremely problematic if an adverse change occurred.

Superintendent Winfred Roberson on Thursday said they were not really addressing the size of the program in these changes. He recognized, of course, that changing the qualification score would impact the size of the program – how much, we don’t know.

That is where I am most troubled in all of this. Madhavi Sunder went to great lengths late in the meeting to make sure we could assess the impact on the diverse student populations. My concern is that raising the qualification score will mean a much less diverse program and a much more heavily white and Asian representation than the current program.

Will that happen? The good news is that we will have one year to assess the impact of some of the changes. Unfortunately, by streamlining and shortening the phase-in, we run the risk of not knowing the full impact of the changes to qualification scores until the program is fully in place.

Will the board members be willing to alter the program if these changes prove too drastic? If the number of blacks and Hispanics precipitously drops? I don’t know and that is where I am most concerned with these changes.

For all of the students and all of the care, the Superintendent could still not tell us what size the program will be and what the ethnic makeup will look like.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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58 Comments

  1. Grant Acosta

    Ugh – It seems that no one heard the same meeting I heard on Thursday.  Roberson did give a logical reason for raising the cutoff to 98%.  If your goal is to serve the needs of those students at the top of the intelligence spectrum, which by your own research is the primary purpose of GATE/AIM (no worrying about whether or not they would succeed in the regular classroom or not), then you need to “narrow the cognitive band” to enhance the learning experience of those students.  You progress further academically when the teacher does not have  constantly stop and help the weaker students (i.e., practice “differentiation”).  Not saying I agree with segregating the top echelon from an educational standpoint, but I  can’t understand why these changes wouldn’t be embraced by AIM supporters.

     

    1. Frankly

      You progress further academically when the teacher does not have  constantly stop and help the weaker students

      Then why don’t we segregate all instruction, because this argument would be applicable between any two groups of kids having different learning challenges/needs?

      When we consider differentiated instruction in our current teaching model then I think your point is valid; however, it challenges the assumption that the “top of the intelligence spectrum” is the only group worthy of self-contained special programs.

      I think the key is to understand and accept the fact that adequate differentiated instruction does not exist yet, but if it did then it is very likely that the population of these highly-intelligent special needs kids would be very small.

      1. Grant Acosta

        Not saying I support segregating strictly by ability, but over and over that’s exactly what I hear from AIM supporters.  If you will recall, there was a man who stood in front of the school board and said, “my child is not a tutor!”  I’ve heard other comments that seemed to echo this sentiment.  So they got what they wanted.  They should be happy.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i think part of the problem here is there is no “they” as in a collective and uniform voice.  i think instead there is a conglomeration of individuals with a variety of different viewpoints who support(ed) various aspects of the program.

        2. Matt Williams

          Grant, my answer back to that man who stood in front of the school board is that there is no better learning opportunity for a human being than having to organize one’s thoughts into a form that can be shared with and understood by others. His child will benefit immensely from that “teaching moment.” His child will learn analysis and synthesis skills that don’t come from being only on the receiving end of education. Someone once said it is more blessed to give than to receive. The person who said that was an educator.

    2. Davis Progressive

      narrowing the cognitive band has two problems.  one is that there is no educationally based standard for it.  two, is the difficulty of measuring that band.

      1. hpierce

        Points well taken.  They both apply equally to developing and keeping the cognitive band as it has been.  The change is neither more nor less justified as how we got to where we are.

    3. Matt Williams

      Grant Acosta said … “You progress further academically when the teacher does not have constantly stop and help the weaker students (i.e., practice “differentiation”).”

      The above statement would be true if there is a meaningful difference between the weaker students and the rest of the students in a classroom, but it is hard to imagine that there is going to be any meaningful difference between a 96th percentile student and a 98th percentile student. One could argue that “it is a difference in name only.”

  2. Frankly

    My original hope was that if the board crafted a policy which everyone could agree on

    Impossible.  Such a policy does not exist.

    I think long-term funding and the achievement gap clearly rank higher.

    I think the board’s decision is in consideration of the achievement gap and an attempt to alter the policy in favor of differentiation… and adequate differentiation is the key to solving the achievement gap riddle.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think the achievement gap is a very different issue than differentiation. it goes to the inequities of society starting with the inability for low income people to get their kids to preschool and the difficulty of catching up once the kids are behind.  it also deals with implicit and unconscious bias and differential treatment and expectations of teachers and parents alike.

      1. Frankly

        I agree with BP… there you go again.

        The clear problem with your racial bias narrative with respect to the achievement gap is that it, the achievement gap, exists in most of the public schools even when the majority of the student body and faculty and blacks and Hispanics… but not all.

        If everything is explained by your “unconscious bias” PC lexicon crap, then we would not see either.

        What is different about those schools with a high population of black and Hispanic students that delivers outcomes more in-line with the averages for whites and Asians?  The answer is differentiation.

        And another thing.   If you “unconscious bias” PC lexicon crap truly does explain the material root cause of the achievement gap problem, then the large and growing achievement gap between Asians and whites must also be explained by the same.  And related to that, you got some splainin’ to do.

        http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-why-do-asian-american-students-perform-better-than-whites-20140505-story.html

        1. David Greenwald

          The problem in Davis is that it’s far larger than other districts. If you want to argue that’s because you have a core of high achieving whites and Asians, then you’re left with the problem as to why the good schools are not bringing up the average scores of blacks and Hispanics as they are whites and Asians.

        2. wdf1

          Frankly:  If everything is explained by your “unconscious bias” PC lexicon crap, then we would not see either.

          An example of unconscious bias is the district assuming that Spanish speaking families have the same information about the school district, its programs, and all the choices available as you do.  If you could speak to a Spanish speaking (speaks little to no English) parent in Davis, you would see that is definitely not the case.  This is a very obvious thing that could be addressed.  The reason this tends to be an issue of unconscious bias is that nearly all the administrators who run school districts are English dominant speakers who don’t hang out socially with adults who are not English dominant speakers.

          There are various rationales that English dominant speakers give for not making this language accommodation.  You use them.  “They should learn to speak English.  This is an English speaking country, we shouldn’t have to accommodate people who don’t speak English”  or “They’re probably illegal immigrants and we should ship them back to where they came from.”  Another common typical line of thinking goes “if they don’t speak English well enough, then we (usually school district officials) know what programs they should enroll in.  They don’t need to be concerned with other choices until they’re proficient in English.”

          If a teacher doesn’t speak Spanish very well, then a Spanish speaking parent is probably not going to confide any personal family issues that have bearing on a student’s performance in school.

        3. Frankly

          So then how do you related this English-as-a-second-language teaching challenge to the achievement gap for blacks?

          I do not see the English-as-a-second-language issue as a sign of unconscious bias.  I see it as conscious bias and common sense.   Speak English well if you want to succeed.  You cannot assimilate sufficiently if you do not speak English well enough.  There is a reason that Tijuana isn’t San Diego.   No language “accommodations” are required other than more rigorous instruction to help convert Spanish speakers to English-speakers.

          So if at a young age I immigrated to Mexico or any other Latin American country, would I be accommodated demanding that I be provided English language materials and instruction, or would I know I needed to bone up on Spanish to be successful at academics?

        4. wdf1

          Frankly:  So if at a young age I immigrated to Mexico or any other Latin American country, would I be accommodated demanding that I be provided English language materials and instruction, or would I know I needed to bone up on Spanish to be successful at academics?

          Clarify in your scenario that your parents wouldn’t know the language, and would probably have less than a high school education and a commensurate income level.  Your chances of mobility into a higher socio-economic level would be smaller than in the U.S.  You would always be aware that you were behind, and that you probably weren’t getting access to all the things that your peers were.

          I don’t see it as coddling the parents, but making the system work for children who didn’t have any choice in the matter.  Spanish speaking parents are generally well aware of their job and social limitations because they don’t speak English or very poorly.  Children will become English dominant, just not as likely to be as proficient as native English speakers who will regularly hear English spoken by their parents.

          ELL children can become excellent bilingual speakers if given some early language instruction (grammar, vocabulary development) in their native language, but that isn’t a priority.  The focus is on speaking English only.

          On the other hand it is a different world in the Spanish Immersion program.  Students receive instruction in both languages and are not viewed as being handicapped in either language because their parents don’t speak Spanish.  Spanish Immersion alums, in secondary grades and at graduation perform as well or better than their peers.  It’s an interesting double standard.

        5. Frankly

          then you’re left with the problem as to why the good schools are not bringing up the average scores of blacks and Hispanics as they are whites and Asians.

          I think this illustrates the profound and related point being skirted.  The school does not generally see its role as “bringing up”.  The school sees its role as delivering a standard education service that the “customer” just has to figure out how to make the best of.  The school believes that its standard service is high quality… it is just a problem that we have a population of families and their kids that are not capable enough to figure out how to exploit the opportunities of the high-quality Davis-standards.

          This is the crux of the problem.  The mission of the education system is broken relative to what we need.  It has always been broken, but we had the type of economy that allowed the C+-average student to earn a good economic life.

          The education system’s mission needs to change to focus on the “bringing-up” goal.  The mission of education should be about human development to a point of economic self-sufficiency.

          We measure the wrong things.  It is not an academic gap that really matters, it is the longer-term gap in economic achievement.

          Differentiation is only part of what we need.  We also need to reform the mission of public school education.

        6. wdf1

          Frankly:  So if at a young age I immigrated to Mexico or any other Latin American country, would I be accommodated demanding that I be provided English language materials and instruction, or would I know I needed to bone up on Spanish to be successful at academics?

          I also doubt that education systems in Latin America would be having as rigorous a discussion about differentiated instruction.  And if they were, it would likely be from reading articles originating from the U.S.

    2. Misanthrop

      If differentiation is the key to solving the achievement gap then there would be no achievement gap and the school board could hang a mission accomplished banner across the District Office. The argument you are making is so simplistic and wrong that I wonder if I am missing a joke or something. Repeating the absurd arguments that scapegoat the least privileged among us  won’t solve the problem just like the district spending nine months on AIM will do nothing to solve the achievement gap as we will see in the 2016 standardized test results.

  3. Tia Will

    I would appreciate it if someone would clearly define what is meant by the words “achievement gap”.  Or I should say which “achievement gap” do we consider the most important to close, since of course their are multiple “achievement gaps” with many different factors at play. What exact problem are we attempting to solve, and how does AIM figure into this process ?

      1. hpierce

        i.e., “racial”… ignoring that there are economically disadvantaged whites and asians and affluent blacks and hispanics.  To you, it appears to be about race.  I care more about the economic issues (which you pretend to care about, in another post), but when pressed, it sounds like race is your “metric”.

        1. hpierce

          Which, Don, is a false metric, IMO.  Suspect they’ll claim socio-economic issues, but then measure by racial identification.  I do not disagree with your comment, but I disagree (somewhat strongly) with the race/ethnicity metric.

          1. Don Shor

            Sure, and there’s also a serious and proven gender achievement gap. But I think we can assume that the default definition being used is regarding race and ethnicity.
            Gender achievement gap: http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=closing_the_achievement_gap_teaching_to_gender_differences
            Given how severe it is, more than likely the gender achievement gap is a significant factor in the overall achievement gap — the gender disparities are even higher in ethnic minorities. But personally I doubt that any of the strategies that will be proposed will even broach this subject.

        2. hpierce

          Ok, Don, you seem to discount my comment by bringing gender into it.  I suspect black girls generally “achieve” more than black males… for a variety of reasons that the schools probably can’t solve.

          I know it was true in my Jr High, in the late 60’s.

        3. wdf1

          One of the strongest achievement gap correlations, as defined by standardized test scores, is family education level.

          Davis Enterprise, Sept. 9, 2015:  State releases new testing data

          There was also a considerable difference between the scores of students who have a parent that attended graduate school, and students whose parents finished high school, but did not go on to college. Among students with a grad school-educated parent, 51 percent exceeded standards, 27 percent met standards, 15 percent nearly met standards, and seven percent did not meet standards in math.

          By contrast, among students with parents who only finished high school, only three percent exceeded standards, 17 percent met standards, 32 percent nearly met standards, and 48 percent did not meet standards for math. There was a similar split on English language arts scores between students with grad-school-educated parents and students with high-school-educated parents.

          The parent education level statistics for Davis children were also striking: 57 percent of the Davis school district’s students have a parent who has attended graduate school, an additional 21 percent have a parent with an undergraduate degree, and a further eight percent have “some college.” Only six percent of Davis students have parents who finished high school (but did not go on to college), and two percent of Davis students have parents who did not finish high school. (Three percent of students “declined to state.”)

  4. Anon

    Will the board members be willing to alter the program if these changes prove too drastic?”

    And admit they were wrong?  Not a chance.  The AIM program will be cut in half, period.  Doesn’t matter what the data show, or to put it more accurately, the data will be conformed to confirm the correct decision was made to cut the AIM program in half.   It will be very interesting to see if the next school parcel tax passes…

    Differentiation happens every day in the classroom, as teachers darn well know, so it is nothing new.

    Achievement gap?  Let’s make sure every student gets the help that they need, regardless of ethnicity, learning disability, intellectual capability.

    I thank God every day my children are well out of the public school system.  IMO they graduated college IN SPITE OF the poor public school system.  It wasn’t all bad, but there was enough that was, to make me happy I don’t have to deal with it anymore. Even teachers are getting frustrated… See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/12/teacher-why-i-just-cant-work-in-public-education-anymore/

    1. wdf1

      Anon:  It will be very interesting to see if the next school parcel tax passes…

      Interesting your perspective vs. the link you posted.  The school parcel tax is the main way that we can have our local say as to what we would like to have offered in Davis schools.  Without it, we are at the mercy of state and federal regulations and mandates to determine how we spend our money.  The school parcel tax funds are what actually give us some true local control.  Even with “local control funding formula,” the state sets the parameters for how the money is to be spent.

      The teacher who wrote the piece you linked to actually was complaining about the state and federal mandates connected to standardized tests which affect how she teaches.  In her account, there is almost no local control.  That really resonates with me.  The biggest sticking point with AIM/GATE identification is over how we use standardized tests and interpret what the scores mean.

      Here’s an excerpt. Good stuff:

      My friends, in real life and on Facebook, know that I am a huge supporter of public education. I am a product of public schools, and so are my children. Public education is the backbone of democracy — but we all know there is a privatization movement trying to undermine it.

      I became an activist after Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican compatriots  took over the Michigan government and declared war on teachers. I am part of a group called Save Michigan’s Public Schools, which put on a rally for public education two years ago at the Capitol steps that drew over 1,000 people from all over the state with just three weeks’ notice and during summer break. I have testified in front of the Michigan House Education Committee against lifting the cap on charter schools, and also against the Common Core State Standards. I attended both conferences of the Network for Public Education to meet with other activists and bring back ideas to my compadres in Michigan. I have been fighting for public education for five years now, and will continue to do so.

      But I just can’t work in public education anymore. I have been forced to comply with mandates — from the Republicans at the state level and the Democrats at the national level — that are NOT in the best interest of kids. I am tired of having to perform what I consider to be educational malpractice, in the name of “accountability”. The amount of time lost to standardized tests that are of no use to me as a classroom teacher is mind-boggling. And when you add in mandatory quarterly district-wide tests, which are used to collect data that is ignored, you get a situation that is beyond ridiculous.

      1. Frankly

        became an activist after Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican compatriots  took over the Michigan government and declared war on teachers.

        Telling.

        Activist for teacher numbers, pay and benefits over the welfare of the students.  Typical.

        1. wdf1

          Can you speak up for Rick Snyder and his policies and talk about how the Michigan have improved relative to how things were before?  I would be delighted to see that argument.  Make it a strong one, please.

        2. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Activist for teacher numbers, pay and benefits over the welfare of the students.  Typical.”

          Did you even read the rest of the post….or did you just stop after the word “activist”.

        3. wdf1

          Frankly:  “Activist for teacher numbers, pay and benefits over the welfare of the students.  Typical.”
          Tia:  Did you even read the rest of the post….or did you just stop after the word “activist”.

          I know.  [sarcasm voice]  God forbid that public school teachers ever get politically involved.  And if they do, it’s because they don’t give a damn about their students.  After all they’re only in it for the money, just like those Wall Street investors.  And there has to be an evil teacher’s union that’s organizing any activism in favor of traditional public schools.

    2. Frankly

      Differentiation happens every day in the classroom, as teachers darn well know, so it is nothing new.

      “Adequate differentiation” is the concept we are talking about here, not the de minimis straying from the standard make-teaching-easier rules that attempt to make everyone same-same.

      1. Anon

        Oh give me a break!  I was a teacher in the 1970’s, and we were doing differentiation then.  Teachers do “adequate” differentiation every day, when they group kids within the classroom, across classrooms, give them extra tutoring, have kids with problems working with student aides, etc.

        1. Frankly

          On one end is the one-size-fits-all learning activity.

          On the other end is the completely individualized learning plan for each student.

          You have experience with something in the middle… something I think was more that former than the latter.  And you almost have to be a rebel teacher to get even that done.

          Adequate differentiation in my mind is the latter.

           

    3. Napoleon Pig IV

      Anon:  “The AIM program will be cut in half, period.  Doesn’t matter what the data show, or to put it more accurately, the data will be conformed to confirm the correct decision was made to cut the AIM program in half.”

      I think you hit the nail squarely in the center of its head. The Lovenburg majority predetermined this outcome a long time ago, and Roberson and his staff are simply working hard (and perhaps with admirable good intentions) to give their boss what she wants. The only way your prediction will not come true is if the school board composition (and average honesty quotient) changes in the next election.

  5. Tia Will

    I want to thank those of you who took the time to respond to my question on the “achievement gap” and most particularly to Don for reposting the article on the gender gap and the physiologic differences between the developing female and male brain.

    I largely asked the question because I felt that there might be different opinions about the composition of the “achievement gap”.  I do not see the AIM debate as the major challenge facing our educators today. I see it as merely one tree in the forest of our inability to provide the optimal experience for each student.

    Of course, if we were to provide an economic floor above the poverty level for each individual who is making any positive contribution, we could at least take away the need to worry about how one is going to meet subsistence needs and allow them to truly pursue those activities where their own strengths lie, instead of our current guessing game of where the opportunities and jobs will lie when the students reach the age of self support. That would tend to make the artificial “achievement gap” as judged by and for economic standing only a thing of the past within a couple of generations.

  6. MrsW

    After reading the discussions of the last few days, and expecting this group will be talking about the achievement gap for some time….I would like to have definitions for “privileged” and “engaged” worked out for future conversations.  Here are some sentences using the words as I understand them:

    A student who is extroverted and mature enough to join adults to draft a school district’s Strategic Plan is engaged.
    A student who is not bored by school is privileged.
    An introverted immature student who refuses to go to school is not engaged.
    A student who refuses to go to school and whose parents can home school him is privileged.
    A school district that can engage introverted immature students whose parents cannot home school them will make a dent in the achievement gap.

    Something to think about.

    1. wdf1

      MrsW:  A student who is not bored by school is privileged.

      I think of a privileged student as being one who has a family with resources — income, education, and time — to provide for their kids.  I have tutored students who did not have those family resources who liked coming to school and didn’t find it boring.

      1. MrsW

        “I have tutored students who did not have those family resources who liked coming to school and didn’t find it boring.”

        I think those students have been blessed with a temperament or personality that helps them adapt. These children are able to seek help outside the family tribe, i.e. accept tutoring and instruction by you, a non-family member, and see themselves as part of a bigger picture.

        1. wdf1

          There’s a lot of tutoring that goes on in the district, either volunteer or through work study program with UCD students.  But I think there’s room for more.  The target is usually students who don’t have many resources available to them outside of school.  It all helps, but I can also see that there are still limitations for how much it can help.

    2. Don Shor

      Definitely thought-provoking. Thanks for posting this.
      One thing I quickly learned when I spent time on site councils and committees and also dealing with special ed and inter district stuff is that people in the education business have their own jargon — and you have to learn and use the jargon sometimes in order to get things done with them. So when I watch the school board meetings, I kind of laugh when I hear staff lapsing into their jargon and euphemisms and unique ways of saying thing indirectly. My favorite this time around was the same one Grant noted: “narrow the cognitive band.”

      1. MrsW

        I kind of laughed at “narrow the cognitive band” too.  People discussing education have lots of “trigger words” sprinkled about, and can’t help but label, since they’re talking about groups.  “Privilege” and “engaged”are words that are bantered about a lot and are trigger words for me.

  7. Misanthrop

    In my mind privileged means having a parent as opposed to a child in foster care, having a parent in their life who has finished college as opposed to having non college educated parents. Also a family that has the financial resources to provide supplemental educational resources or support to make sure the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs are met.

    1. MrsW

      I think this is the traditional definition.  With respect to school, do you think all children are capable of leveraging these privileges of birth into school success and engagement?

    2. wdf1

      Also the time and inclination of parents to engage in their child’s education.   I have seen families who haven’t had a high income or education level have kids succeed in part on this basis.

      1. Don Shor

        This is something I ran into all the time when my kids were in DSIS. I would describe how it works, with the level of parental involvement, and by far the most common comment I got was “oh, I could never do that.”

  8. Frankly

    Very interesting posts.

    I think some of the things listed as privileged are potential contributors to educations success, but as someone that has had to learn how to assess individual wiring and innate capabilities and match it to jobs/roles in the workplace, and remembers the same from my school years, I think there is a more fundamental “privilege” that is being blessed with wiring and personality that fits well into what the education system defines as template learners.  That template has narrowed over the years as we have cut out choice to balance budgets… and I think for other reasons.

    And today that template much better fits generic female wiring.

    It is also connected to genetic gifts from parents.

    The reason that this is important is that humans, especially developing humans, respond to feelings of accomplishment.  If they are academically-gifted, they would get the feedback for being smart and accomplished in school and this would be a natural motivation to continue to strive.

    I have two very smart sons that are wired with strong interpersonal skills and artistic talents.  They both left the Davis School system feeling like they never fit in and frankly, feeling like they must be stupid.

    They are not alone.  Many of their friends are in the same boat.  Some of their friends had these academic gifts, but frankly some seemed to be quite aloof and lacking in what I would call common sense and interpersonal skills.  As a hiring manager I might discount their academic achievement after interviewing them and noting what was lacking… depending on the job.

    From my perspective, the schools should have spent a greater effort helping those academic-gifted kids develop on their weakness.  And my sons should have had their own unique education plan/path that gave them more attention on subjects they struggled in while also providing more options for them to exercise their artistic wiring.

    This gets back to my opinion that most, if not all, kids are privileged in having some talents.  But the education system only focuses on a narrow band… that template learner.

    That is why I am so adamant that we should shift focus and retool the entire system to provide adequate differentiation.

  9. Misanthrop

    I recently read somewhere how in the U.S.A. socioeconomic factors are a greater predictor of educational success than cognitive ability. I know of a valedictorian who didn’t go to college because he came from a poor immigrant family that needed him to go to work right out of high school and nobody showed him how to fill out a FAFSA because nobody at home knew about it.

    1. wdf1

      I read somewhere that, more than family income, the strongest predictor of all was the educational level of the mother.  Still a socioeconomic factor.  I haven’t been able to find the original source again, though.

    2. MrsW

      “… and nobody showed him how to fill out a FAFSA because nobody at home knew about it.”

      To, me this is absolutely something where Public School can make a difference with students who have the “right stuff” and have the personalities to leave home.  I know a number of people, including my father, who were helped by a school counselor to both visualize college and with the logistics to make it happen.   But it isn’t for everyone. His younger sister went, too, but then was home in 2 weeks because she was culturally fish-out-of-water and homesick.

      1. wdf1

        MrsW:  To, me this is absolutely something where Public School can make a difference with students who have the “right stuff” and have the personalities to leave home.

        I definitely agree.  A good counselling staff.

  10. Anon

    Frankly: “This gets back to my opinion that most, if not all, kids are privileged in having some talents.  But the education system only focuses on a narrow band… that template learner.

    That is why I am so adamant that we should shift focus and retool the entire system to provide adequate differentiation.”

    In the younger grades, what is crucial is that children learn the basic building blocks of Math and English.  I am talking about math tables, how to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers, decimals and fractions.  I am talking about phonics, basic sentence structure, writing a simple coherent paragraph.  Until students have these basic building blocks, they struggle with everything else.  And yet our school systems, driven by the profit motive of publishers to sell new textbooks, are forced to follow the latest educational theory/flavor of the year (in my day it was the see-say reading method; the “new” math).  Students get caught in the middle of some newfangled educational theory, teachers are completely frustrated at being forced to teach a curriculum they know is horribly flawed, and the schools keep turning out students woefully underprepared for life.  So many cannot read a basic contract, haven’t a clue how to balance a checkbook or even write a check properly, and are hard pressed to write a simple report.  Ask any college, and they will tell you so many incoming freshman have to take remedial English and Math.

    This has nothing to do with “inadequate differentiation”, and everything to do with dopey educational techniques that are constantly rotated in and out of the curricula of our educational system.  A great explanation can be seen at this link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/12/teacher-why-i-just-cant-work-in-public-education-anymore/

    In my day, we instituted “team teaching”, and ability grouped kids.  It worked beautifully.  Today, that technique would be called a form of “differentiation”.  But interestingly, I was given pretty much carte blanche to teach however I wanted back in the 1970’s, and I used the old tried and true methods of drill, drill, drill.  I taught 8th grade math and science.  I had my students working math problems every day – and they loved it.  Because I made sure they learned the basics first and foremost, they felt empowered to go farther and learn more.  Learning actually became fun, not frustrating.  Science was a bit different.  Again, they had to learn the basics of learning decimals, then put it to practical use.  We used simple geometry to measure the height of a tree using its shadow.  And experiments led to writing coherent lab reports – an opportunity to ground students in proper English.

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