Friday, June 27, 2008

Talented and Discarded

In this morning's NY Sun, Andrew Wolf takes a look at the recently released school achievement tests and finds that talented kids are getting short shrift: "Curiously, it is not the low performers, special education students, minorities, English language learners, or other "at risk" groups that is lagging behind. Rather, despite the soaring scores, it is the group of highest performers that is shrinking."

Why's that? Well, for one, there is a greater degree of concern for the lowest performers and a general philosophy of leveling pervades the educratic set-talented kids, it seems, can fend okay by themselves. But can they? Not according to a blogger that Wolf cites, as well as a respected report from the Fordham Institute: "It appears," according to Eduwonkette, "that schools are focusing on pushing lower performing students over the passing mark, and shortchanging high-achieving students in the process. In Bloomberg's New York, as it turns out, a rising tide does not lift all boats." This is a serious charge, one that cannot be ignored. Within the past few days the Thomas B. Fordham Institute issued its report, "High Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB," which suggests:
Teachers are much more likely to indicate that struggling students, not advanced students, are their top priority.

Low-achieving students receive dramatically more attention from teachers.

Teachers believe that all students deserve an equal share of attention.

Most teachers, at this point in our nation's history, feel pressure to focus on their lowest-achieving students."

What this means is that are talented kids aren't getting nurtured, which is not a good sign for the country's future. Talented kids need to be treated as "special needs" children, not only for themselves, but for society as a whole.

On top of all of this, however, there's a serious suspicion that the tests themselves are being watered down; which puts a dent in all of the "high-fiving" that's been going on at Tweed: "Complicating all of this is concern that the state tests themselves are inflated, producing results that misstate the true numbers of children at risk. New York State has already come under criticism for its inflated results, and this year's scores only widens the gap."

In the final analysis, there is an urgent need to bring in an independent evaluation team to examine the work of the Kleinmen. The current results raise more questions than they answer and we need a more sober review so it can be determined whether the current mayoral control structure needs to be overhauled.