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MLMATHNET  November 1999

MLMATHNET November 1999

Subject:

more on tracking

From:

Jim Abrams <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Middle Level Mathematics Network <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:35:51 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (123 lines)

----------
From: "llamato" <[log in to unmask]>
To: "Middle Level Mathematics Network" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: more on tracking
Date: Fri, Nov 12, 1999, 8:59 AM


------------------
Sue,
My current bailiwick is gathering information on heterogeneous grouping
because I'm very frustrated teaching math to mixed ability groupings for
basically the same reasons the CVMC participants discussed at your last
meeting.  When I discussed this issue with a friend of mine, she suggested
I investigate a new model called complex instruction.  I will be seeing her
at an upcoming conference and I will ask for more information.  Anyone have
information on this?  Does it address the problems mentioned in Sue's
message?  Thanks.  Libby Amato (6th grade teacher Main St. Middle School in
Montpelier)

----------
> From: Jim Abrams <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: more on tracking
> Date: Thursday, November 11, 1999 3:30 PM
>
> ----------
> From: [log in to unmask]
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: more on tracking
> Date: Wed, Nov 10, 1999, 9:56 AM
>
>
> ------------------
> The discussion topic at last week's Central Vermont Math Consortium was
> related to challenging all students appropriately.  Despite a trend to
teach
>
> mathematics in heterogeneous groups in order to provide ALL students with
> equal access to a challenging curriculum, there was concern expressed
that
> inequities may, in fact, be exacerbated by heterogeneous grouping.
Students
>
> with little confidence/knowledge often shut down and become uninvolved in
> math class throughout middle school until they are finally in tracked
high
> school classes where they breathe a sigh of relief.
>
> Two relevant issues brought up by Kathy Johnson (Equity Specialist at
VISMT)
>
> in a recent memo re: tracking were that 1) low level classes are often
> taught
> by the least qualified teachers and 2)low level classes are often very
> unengaging - mostly basic skills and little that challenges students to
> think
> about difficult concepts.  One answer is simply NOT to do these things if
we
>
> track.  If we are aware that these are barriers, it would be much simpler
to
>
> address these issues by provided challenging, standards-based curricula
to
> ALL students and to be sure that highly qualified teachers were teaching
the
>
> lowest performing students.
>
> One participant at the meeting talked about how his middle school has
gone
> back to tracking -- one small pull-out class of low performing students
per
> grade level -- in which the students are given the same demanding
curriculum
>
> as the regular students in all core subjects.  He claims that the program
> (now in its second year) is dramatically more successful than what had
been
> in place:  there is NO stigma attached to being in the "lower" level
group,
> the students are very engaged and are achieving much more than before,
all
> the teachers (L.A., math, science and soc. st.) find it's their very
> favorite
> class to teach, and the students are much more willing to take risks than
> they were in heterogeneous classes.  The atmosphere in this pull-out
class
> is
> positive and enjoyable for all!!
>
> One thought I have is that if the lower performing students are pulled
out,
> then the "special needs" students who remain in the regular class are
those
> who need to be challenged.  When the diversity is so great in a
> heterogeneous
> setting, and the time so limited to do those things which might make
> hetereogeneous groups successful (for ex, in Japan teachers often teach 3
> hrs
> per day and have an assistant in all classes with whom to consult every
day
> about the direction of the next day's lesson), both the highest
performing
> and low achieving students lose out.  It is difficult to justify  giving
> attention to a student who understands everything when others are
confused
> and crying out --or just plain tuned out --  in the same class.
>
> I agree that, in the ideal world of unlimited time to do it right, a
> heterogeneous classroom might be the best situation;  but will it take so
> long for a full-time teacher -- with virtually no prep time -- to become
> skillful in teaching heterogeneous groups that too many promising
students
> (at both ends of the spectrum) are lost in the process?
>
> At the CVMC meeting we came to no real agreements on this issue, but we
> definitely agreed that there are no simple answers.
>
> I would be very interested to hear more comments on this topic.
>
> Sue Abrams

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