Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tracking: Good or Bad????

This week, we had a little bit of reading to do. One piece was called Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick Finn, and the other was Jeannie Oake's Tracking: Why Schools need to take Another Route. Normally, when it comes to blogging, I like to wait till last minute, and seeing as how it's 11:02PM on Sunday...I think I successfully succeeded in this again. My purpose it not to be last minute, but because I like to read everyone else's blogs. I like to get a hint of what people think and go in to My blog with that mind set. This week was a little bit different. I didn't really read anyone's blogs before I looked into the articles. I Went to our class Blog. The first article, by name alone, seemed pretty interesting...but whatever I thought. Just another assignment to read and report. But the other assignment instantly pulled me in. Tracking??? What does that even mean. So I clicked on the link in the blog and searched around. I personally liked the History tab on the site. I hope that link works because it goes to a PDF. I didn't really read every bit of it, I merely skimmed through. Alliance is a huge deal. Basically, and I could be wrong, but it's like the...father/mother of no child left behind. At least that is what caught my eye. Instead of being all...WOW...That's So Cool, Let's read more...I was Pissed off...and my only reason is because I hate the no child left behind program. I don't see how it could possibly work when, I personally have seen kids in classes falling behind and teacher's don't care because it's not in the classroom's "best interest". I can't remember who, but I even remember hearing stories of these scenarios of kids falling through the cracks in other Schools. I hate No Child Left Behind, because it seems like it's a lottery type deal and you only aren't left behind if you're lucky or gifted enough!!!....Anyways, to end a rant...I jumped on the reserves and pulled up the article......
Tracking??? It seems to me that it means basically to group students by their abilities/disabilities. "In other words, to keep the smart kids with the smart kids and the stupid kids with the stupid kids." I for one hate the words I just used. Half way through, I was going to backspace....but in reality...that is what we do when we group kids by what they can do. I don't believe in tracking at all. The article says "Moreover, the nature of these differences suggests that students who are placed in high-ability groups have access to far richer schooling experiences than other students. This finding helps explain, at least in part, why it is that tracking sometimes seems to "work" for highability students and not for others." So it's fine for the "high ability" groups, and is a waste of time and actually proves to.....educationally hurt? the kids of lower abilities. That's ridiculous. I don't care if you're the next Einstein or have more IEP's than anyone else in the is that fair...
I feel like I'm ranting about how much this topic really "grinds my gears"(probably because that is exactly what I am doing huh?) And A rant can't be fun to I apologize to anyone who find's themselves on my blog. For every paragraph that I read, while I grinded my teeth and clenched my fists...I thought of one thing....Can separate be equal...I googled Seperate but Equal.....and I love Wikipedia...

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

This is from the Brown vs. Board of Education case that we all have learned so much about. While focusing and dealing with race as was the controversy of it's time, how can we not see the relationship to this idea of tracking. Schools are Separating classes based on ability. Is equality of teaching styles and teachers and opportunities for the students really possible. I really don't think so at all.

"In low-ability classes, for example, teachers seem to be less encouraging and more punitive, placing more emphasis on discipline and 'behavior and less on academic learning. Compared to teachers in high-ability classes, they seem to be more concerned about getting students to follow directions, be on time, and sit quietly. Students in low ability classes more often feel excluded from class activities and tend to find their classmates unfriendly. Their classes are more often interrupted by problems and arguing, while students in higher-ability classes seem to be much more involved in their classwork"

So my question is....what is an alternative to tracking? I really don't know. As i read this article, I couldn't wait until I arrived at some solution they would suggest...but there doesn't seem to be one...yet...It seems that the change isn't going to be simple. It won't be just...mixing up the kids and teaching mixed groups. I believe the change has to start in the teachers themselves. In order for students to have faith in themselves, they must know that other people believe in them . I can't tell you how many test I went to, and being on the verge of not being able to endure more pain(karate tests) I would just think of who had faith in me, and that would push me to the point of finishing the test no matter what.  I don't know an alternative...but I really hope we find one soon...because...from what I've seen in my own VIPs experience, from what all of you guys have seen, from what I see in other classrooms, Tracking doesn't work at all...well it does for those more "fortunate" of students, but pretty much screws the other kids out of so many experiences.

So I don't share this with many people, but this assignment really backs up my beliefs. So my major is special needs and education in elementary levels...but honestly, I hate schools and the special needs programs that I have seen personally for the most part. Sure we need them, but in so many cases they don't seem work at all. They just hold back the students. I want an education on how to work with special needs students...but I want to make my own program. Being a certified Martial Arts teacher, I have worked with all sorts of students. One particular student motivates me more than anyone else. He has Torettes, ADD, ADHD, a few other medical problems, and his parents just went through a messy divorce, all while he is about 10. That's a lot for anyone never mind a 10 Year old...and his mom told me how he is in all special classes at school and people make fun of him and how he hates it. In classes...I don't single him out, I don't make special forms for him or special class activities. He does the same activities as everyone else and is held to the same standard. Does he struggle at times? Yes. Does he get aggravated when he messes up or has a lot of difficulty? Yes. Does he give up when he fails...No...I don't let him fail. I continue to challenge him and let him know that I know he can do it. One weapon's class, where all the beginners use a bo, Jack hated it. I felt so bad and even though he wasn't getting any better with it, I wanted to give him an opportunity to use another weapon like I gave everyone else, I gave him a jump rope and he can swing it and whip it better than any other student we have.

While it is clear to me, that not every student will reach the same level, and some will be significantly higher, and others lower, I don't believe that grouping these kids by that idea and basically telling them that that is as high as they can ever get is the solution. Separate is not equal. Brown Vs. Board ruled that way. So why do we still have that in the classroom. How do we go about "fixing" this in a classroom. And do any of you work/have worked in special needs classrooms, and how do you think they are working. Do you think the teacher's let them go as far as they can, or do they hold them back.