Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Growth in Tracking and Ability Grouping

Ed Week has an article here discussing how tracking and ability grouping is making a resurgence.

In my 37 years of teaching high school English I went back and forth on this issue.  Some thoughts:

The ideal setup is a curriculum with many electives so students can sort themselves.  Maybe they want to take British Literature, which is difficult, or Contemporary Literature, which is more accessible to mediocre readers.  I do think that students who want to take more difficult courses should be able to, and high-achieving students—who may be taking difficult math and science courses—should be able to take an English or history course that is interesting for them, even if it’s not so difficult.

I also think there should be catch-up courses for kids who have poor skills.  A poor reader is not going to be able to read John Donne.  He should be put into a saturation reading and writing program until his skills are at a level that he can take more mainstream classes.

What always chilled me were high schools with separate tracks that kids pretty much got stuck in.  

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