No matter who is compiling your statistics, or which particular study you want to run with, far too many children are disconnected from their schoolwork and/or discouraged in their academic studies.
"Students don't just suddenly fail; they don't just suddenly drop out," opines the Educate for a Change website. "Their cumulative records show patterns of failure and under-achievement through years of enrollment.The last three decades have been filled with innovative interventions for low achieving students, but ultimately, only two options have persisted through years of debate: Retention & Social Promotion."
The website promotes the idea that instead of throwing more money at the problem of poor student performance, teachers continue to teach material to their students until an A is achieved before moving to the next thing. The example given was a shop class in which students had to perfect a drafting project and learn the shop rules before touching the tools. Admirable, as I sure wouldn't want someone with an "F" in "how to run the powertools" touching all the equipment.
The students are promoted when and if they're ready for the next step. This ensures that the next step is much more likely to be mastered with confidence than it would be had there been significant knowledge "gaps" in the preceding material. Great!
Um, until you start to think about what that would "look like" for those students who truly will struggle and really will be five or six years behind their peers during the teen years. Shunt those kids off into "special schools," where they learn that they're so "special" no one wants to be around them because they're "retarded?" (Yes, children *do* tease each other with these words still. Sorry.) The saying "riding the short bus" isn't one that lends dignity to the kids to whom it applies.
But I know that realistically, nonverbal children like Woodjie just aren't going to fit into the mainstream classroom. They just aren't. You could sit around forever waiting for that kiddo to make an A in reading, but doggone it if you can't understand speech, it's kinda hard for the teacher to show you how to read, isn't it?
I know that at least in our district's preschool, there are many children of very different abilities all grouped in together. That changes pretty quickly in kindergarten. Kindergarten!
Yep, you get the kids who are behind in reading (!??) and the "gifted" kids start to get sorted out right about then. Your kid's five years old and already knows whether he's "stupid" or "smart."
That would never go away under any system, but in retrospect I can't tell you how glad I am for Emperor that he was born ten days after the Missouri school attendance cutoffs. He would be in first grade now if he were in public schools. I was disappointed that he would not be able to attend kindergarten when he turned five. Another year of "special needs preschool" for him.
Then we brought him home after his first week of kindergarten. *Suddenly,* he is able to read. He is able to write. He is now doing the same math the public school's fourth-graders are doing. But he was a special-ed kid in preschool. You know, one of the slow kids? You never know.
I take that encouragement with Woodjie. Maybe he'll never really talk. Maybe he will. You never know. You give the children the best you can, when you can, and see what happens.
Generally speaking, though, I like that idea of having all the students learn at their own individual pace. I'm not sure how that would work with children in mathematics. Educators in our area get around this by using a "spiral" curriculum. But I'm not sure what to make of the Educate for a Change website. It points out the "weakness" of homeschooling as not allowing for proper socialization... and in another article, it decries the rampant bullying in public schools.