Thursday, August 27, 2009

There Is No Such Thing As Failing

(photo by Sean Davis)

In Memphis Elementary Schools these days after a recent policy change affecting Kindergarten through Third Grade. Check out this change in policy (click HERE if you prefer to read the transcript):

I wonder if this is what Senator Kennedy was thinking when he stood behind the "No Child Left Behind" policy? I kinda doubt it. I don't think he thought THAT would be his legacy...

I am curious as to the research Superintendent Cash quoted. Especially given this research:
Educators have discovered that if a child can't read fluently by the end of third grade, he may not become a strong reader. And the road ahead will be much more difficult.

"In fourth grade, students start using their reading skills as a tool for learning other things," said Dr. Sandra Baxter, director of the National Institute for Literacy. "They have to read well because the subjects get harder. Teachers have less time to help kids catch up on reading skills they don't have."

That's why parents need to stay in constant touch with their children's day care providers and teachers from kindergarten through grade three. It's important to make sure that children's reading skills are developing "on schedule."

In fact, research has shown that children who aren't strong readers by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of school later on. "We should all pay attention to that," said Dr. Baxter. "Fortunately, the research has also shown us the best ways to teach reading, and how parents can make a big difference in helping their children learn to read."

That seems to fly in the face of the new Memphis policy. If children have not learned reading fundamentals by Third Grade, they are more likely to drop out of school. That seems to completely contradict the logic behind the new Memphis policy.

I find this whole idea to be staggering - no grades, no holding back (though parents are allowed to hold their children back), and extra work for the teachers. And what are the potential effects on the children who are able to do the work? What does it means for them to have other kids in their classes who can't keep up in terms of their OWN education?

Naturally, I am particularly curious what educators and parents around the country think of this new policy in Memphis. So, what do you think?


Mary Ellen said...

This is just VERY.BAD.POLICY!

Not only are the schools failing the kids, but this may also lead to a slippery slope where they take away failing grades from 4-8th grade. Then what? At what point do you expect the kids to actually learn what they are being taught?

They are leaving a whole bunch of kids "left behind" with this policy. It reminds me of some of the dimwitted ideas that some schools have adopted that allow words to be misspelled in essays because they don't want to "stifle their creativity" while writing. Because actually looking up a word that they aren't sure is spelled correctly is a bad thing. Geez. I can't tell you how many papers I used to grade when I taught religion that had such atrocious spelling that I could barely read what they wrote! And this was coming from 6th graders and high school students!

Ugh...sorry for the rant, this is a pet peeve with me, allowing are kids to underachieve while the rest of the world's kids are walking all over us academically.

Home schooling is sounding better and better to me.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

No apology necessary, ME. It reminds me of the Doonesbury cartoons when he would have the church softball league. "Strike 1; Strike 2; Strike 3 - and you're special." The Baptist minister would say, "I hate playing the Unitarians..." Or, "Strike 1, Strike 2, Strike 3, Strike 4..." "I hate playing the Unitarians..." Yeah - no expectation that someone should actually have to work within set parameters, like SPELLING. Anyway, it's that whole mindset of everyone being "special" instead of having to WORK to achieve.

What a RIDICULOUS idea that is - correct spelling will stifle creativity? Are you KIDDING me??? How abt how their minds will be enlarged as they find other words on the way to learning the proper spelling of the words they want to use?

If children who need to be kept back aren't for whatever reason, then the other children will suffer as a result. As an anchor on the news said this morning (and I'm paraphrasing here), it sets up mediocrity as the norm.

Yeah - home schooling does look better and better...