Why Jason Carter is Wrong that Teachers’ Pensions Should Supply Funding for Risky Venture Start-Up Businesses

Today, 9/22/14, there has been an active discussion regarding why Jason Carter is wrong to support a law which would require that a percentage of retired teachers’ pensions funds be used to fund risky venture start-up businesses through their Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Georgia funds, meant to give these elderly teachers financial security in their old age, as promised by the state of Georgia when they were beginning, young teachers.

If you wish to be fully informed on this issue, please read all of my remarks which run throughout this thread on Jim Galloway’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog (written by Greg Bluestein), as well as read all other comments in the link below:

http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/09/22/jason-carter-wants-teachers-pension-to-boost-startup-firms/

My thoughts on this issue:

“I was one of Jason Carter’s staunchest supporters. I am a native Georgian, a Democrat, and a retired public school teacher, after having served the public school children of Georgia for 35 years of my life.

I was appalled yesterday to learn that Jason Carter would help to enact a law which would take my TRS funds (hard earned funds that I, and many other teachers, contributed to the TRS for 30 or 40 years) to hand over to risky business start-up entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs of wannabee start-up businesses should save, themselves, to start their own risky business ventures. If the state of Georgia it is insistent upon giving these handouts to these entrepreneurs – practically all start- up businesses of years past in Georgia have had a record of failure – then it should find the money from other means to give to these risky business ventures than from the hard-earned money of worthy, elderly teachers through their TRS funds. There is good reason that 20 years ago the TRS broke from the state of Georgia. Politicians and politicians should stay out of my retirement funds.

Jason Carter, unless you change you position on this issue, I will vote for Nathan Deal, and not for you. This support from you to take money from the TRS makes you appear very politically self-serving and opportunistic – to this 72 year old retired teacher and educational leader in Georgia.”

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These remarks were posted on Facebook:

While we agree with you that no one needs to be changing TRS, Nathan Deal and some of the Legislators are planning a complete raid on the TRS. Hunter Hill (6th District – Cobb/Fulton) has Senate Resolution 782 sitting in committee after last years session. It would allow for a “study committee” of 17 people to looking into doing away with the defined benefit that has proven so important to Georgia teachers.

Moving away from a defined benefit to a contribution system would destroy TRS for future generations of children, and Deal would like nothing more than to be able to appoint the 17-member committee that would dismantle TRS.

We were heartened to hear Senator Carter clarify yesterday that he would make NO changes to TRS without the input and blessing of the teachers who would be affected.

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On reflection two days later:

Jay Bookman, columnist for the AJC wrote the following comments, in part, on his blog on the morning of September 24, 2014:

“I don’t buy all of his (Jason Carter’s) policy proposals — his recent call to use state pension funds as a source of venture capital, for example, is worrisome. Such a program offers a huge temptation for corruption, and nothing in Georgia’s good-ol-boy political culture nor in its system of ethics enforcement offers reassurance that the temptation could be avoided.
What Carter does offer is an understanding that the status quo is not working, that more of the same from the folks under the Gold Dome is going to produce more of the same. After 12 years of such gubernatorial ‘leadership’ under Perdue and now Deal, that’s not acceptable.”
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Mary Elizabeth Sings’ response: “Thank you for this statement, Jay Bookman.  I thought I might not vote for Jason Carter, because of his stand on this issue, alone, but he has tempered his position, a bit, by indicating that he would not do anything that teachers were not in favor of, and he has sought guidance from the GAE, in this regard, also.
I am voting a straight-up Democratic ticket in November, and I encourage all citizens of Georgia to do the same, if you want to move Georgia forward, again.”
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The Invaluable Economic Strength That Teachers Give Back to their Communities

Read the entire page from Jim Galloway’s blog on the Atlanta Journal Constitution and notice my remarks regarding how very much teachers contribute the economic viability of their communities through their collective purchasing power.  They give back, in economic strength, to their communities almost twice as much as they receive in salaries as teachers.  See the link below:

http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/09/19/georgia-has-the-highest-unemployment-rate-in-the-nation/

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Instructional Management of Many Classroom Groups through Hiring Instructional Lead Teachers

On August 24, 2014, I posted the following comments on the “Get Schooled” blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, regarding an instructionally sophisticated way of managing, school wide, the range of skill levels students will always have within various grade levels.  Another poster responds to my remarks. See below for the comments and the link to that thread on “Get Schooled.”

Mary Elizabeth to another poster: You are describing realistic groupings of students to address individual needs without undue burden on teachers. The public must be educated not to perceive in dramatic absolutes (as you had written yesterday) regarding what is involved in individualizing to students’ various needs. Many other instructional suggestions (other than those you presented) can also be exercised, and are. The key to understanding how individualizing instruction works is to perceive in instructional details, instead of in generalities, about the many ways to deliver individualized instruction. That would involve forming various groupings of students, using several teachers to team-analyze the best groupings within their overall jurisdictions of students they are responsible to educate, as well as funding more paraprofessional or mentoring support by well-trained instructional coaches and/or adult volunteers.

Thank you for your well-balanced and well-considered post.

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/educational-essay-9-my-thoughts-for-improving-public-education/

 
The other poster responds to Mary Elizabeth’s comments, above:
Agreed. The problem may also rest on the need for principals to work with the teachers to compose the classrooms in that way and to work the master schedule around it. Some school administrators might need help doing that.
Making all classrooms evenly composed and punting the “differentiation” to the teachers seems like the path of least resistance for the administrator who either does not have the logistical skills or won’t take the time to group students more appropriately.
What can be done by a school system to assist with this?
 
MaryElizabethSings's avatar
 

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Continued dialogue with the other poster on the “Get Schooled” blog, on August 25, 2014:

Other Poster:
Sounds like this ILT position is exactly what Young Middle School needs. How would folks at that school lobby for this from APS and work with Mr. Middleton, Associate Superintendent for middle schools to ability group their students effectively without tracking?
And is APS capable of providing the sort of training you suggest?”

Mary Elizabeth:
I am not familiar with the APS in any detail, but I worked with the DeKalb County School System, from 1971 – 2000 when I retired. I was the ILT in a school without walls in south DeKalb County for almost a decade (1975 – 1984) in which I functioned as the ILT, doing exactly what I have described on this thread. Please know that schools do not have to remove walls in order to form multi-aged groupings throughout the school and to be aware of every group formed within the school. Schools simply must have a sophisticated knowledge of instructional delivery in depth, led by an excellent Instructional Lead Teacher and/or Principal, hopefully both, working in harmony.

From 1984 – 2000, I was the Reading Department Chair, and Advanced Reading teacher of the high school in south DeKalb County which served 1800 students. I tested all of the students in that high school on reading vocabulary and comprehension skills, by means of an in-house Nelson (or Nelson-Denny) Reading Test (provided by the Reading Department of the DCSS in the Department of Instruction) through the help of all English teachers in the school. We did this testing for diagnostic purposes to better place and instruct all of the students in that south DeKalb County high school.

My suggestions to you in helping the students and teachers at the Young Middle School in the Atlanta Public School System:

(1) Get interested teachers, parents, administrators together as a lobbying group and have these people (the greater the number, the better) persuade Mr. Middleton to contact Instructional Coordinators within the DeKalb County School System who remember when the DCSS had hired ILT’s for most of its elementary/middle schools (grades 1 – 7) beginning with the 1978 school year when the ILT position was created until that ILT position was discontinued (because of money concerns?), if in fact it has been discontinued.

(2) Suggest to Mr. Middleton that some Instructional Coordinators from the APS be chosen to make an appointment in the DCSS central instructional area to speak directly with these older DCSS Instructional Coordinators about the role of the ILT when it existed in the DCSS. These older Instructional Coordinators/Supervisors from the DeKalb School System should be able to advise personnel from the APS as to how to get the ILT role incorporated into the APS, perhaps as a model for other schools in the APS in to how to serve the instructional needs of each student, very precisely.

(3) Hire at least one Instructional Lead Teacher (as a model, hopefully, to be implemented, later, in other APS schools), who will know instructional strategies and instructional groupings with great detail and expertise, and who will know how to work with, and communicate with, others, including parents and the whole community, in workshops after school hours. This ILT must be willing to go over and beyond to train teachers, parents, counselors, and administrators about how to place and correctly monitor the progress of all students in the school. This must be a community project to see Young Middle School succeed beyond all expectations. Train and implement. This will keep hope alive. I so hope that this instructional goal is accomplished.

(3) To help as I can, I have incorporated my thoughts (and yours) into my last post on my own blog. Any educator who wishes to read our words, here, can go to this link to read what we have discussed:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/instructional-management-of-many-classroom-groups-through-hiring-instructional-lead-teachers/

(4) Share with as many people in the community my thoughts on education, as I practiced them under the Associate Superintendent of Instruction in the DCSS beginning in the 1975 -1976 school year when he formed his open classroom, multi-aged groups, continuous-progress model school, and hired me to work directly under him. A beginning link to understanding part of what he had taught me, and what I learned about instruction, can be read at this link on “Mastery Learning”:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/about-education-essay-1-mastery-learning/

GOOD LUCK. I cannot tell you how gratified I would be to know that the APS would incorporate some of the instructional suggestions which I have shared here. I will pray for this to happen. Don’t give up. Be tenacious in your commitment to this happening. It happened before in the DCSS, and it can happen again in the APS. Who knows, Young Middle School, as part of the APS, might become a model school for other schools throughout Georgia in how to address individual needs of students without tracking.

Post Script: A simple way to get to my blog, through memory, is:

http://www.maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com

Posted in Instructional Lead Teachers, Tracking Students, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Disciplinary Problems in Public Schools

I posted the following thoughts regarding disciplinary problems in public schools in America on the Get Schooled blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on August 20, 2014:

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Disciplinary problems in schools in the south metro area, especially, come from poverty and different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds that will take years, more, of concentrated effort and programs to overcome. These disciplinary problems are societal in nature, more than educational in nature, although schools inherit the problems in discipline within their walls because of society’s problems. The best reparations that we, as a nation, could give the black communities throughout our nation, would be more concentrated effort to enter their communities with fully-funded resources to lift their communities, as LBJ had started to do in the 1960s with great success.

However, since the mid-1970s, there has been a very selfish backlash to the altruism of the 1960s, and we, as a nation, have not served the poor in our nation as a great nation should have. We have dropped the ball in that continuing rectification of poverty of blacks (left over from slavery and Jim Crow), and now from immigrants, such as poor Hispanics. All of this shows up in our schools as disciplinary problems, but that means even more reason to monitor individual students instructionally, with even greater precision and care. Discipline problems in schools have nothing to do with how carefully educators monitor the progress of students, individually. That is done outside of classroom time. But, correct diagnosis and monitoring of individual students is a necessity, and an instructional truth, that must happen or too many students will continue to fail. Too many students have fallen through the cracks of educational systems and this must end if our public schools are to survive, and they must survive or corporations will run every aspect of our lives. We will no longer be a democratic-republic, if that were to happen to America.

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Tracking Students in Public Education and Common Core Standards

Below are my remarks regarding the tracking of student in public education to another poster on the thread entitled, “Running for cover on Common Core. Everybody’s Talking.  Anybody Actually Listening?” on the “Get Schooled” blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on August 15, 2014:  (Link: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/aug/14/wondering-where-everybody-doe-and-state-boe-theyre/)

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Other poster: I take it that you’re in favor of tracking by learning ability? What do you do if the students sort themselves into racial or ethnic groups, accept de facto segregation?”
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Mary Elizabeth: You assume wrong. I am not in favor of tracking by learning ability. There are many options beyond simple tracking of students like herds of sheep into broad generalities of delivering instruction. That is why I always write in terms of adjusting to individual instructional needs wherever students are placed. Not to address individual instructional variances among students’ academic needs is to create a systemwide failure for students. The delivery of precise educational mastery for every student is a more complex process (with more options for that delivery) than you are presently perceiving, imo.

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/ways-to-teach-students-who-are-functioning-on-different-instructional-levels-in-the-same-grade/

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Other poster: A failure to track is not good for the capable students; they’re simply bored while the teacher addresses the needs of the less capable and the incapable, and deals with the discipline problems.

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MaryElizabethSings's avatar

I am simply trying to communicate that the term “tracking,” itself, and what that term connotes in instruction is too broad a way of visualizing instructional delivery in the nitty-gritty variations of instructional needs of hundreds and even thousands of students in one school setting, based on my experiences in education. Students in general, imo, should not be “forever” set into one so-called “track” because students will individually vary from year to year according to their spurts of academic growth, just as they, individually, will vary in their spurts of physical growth, according to the years and times those spurts will occur naturally.

A student who is not ready to absorb, or master, the concepts in Algebra I should not be placed in Algebra I, whatever his grade level That student may need pre-Algebra before taking Algebra I, even if the majority of his classmates are going into Algebra I, in order for him to meet success with Algebra I at a later time. That same student, however, may be functioning in English courses above those of his classmates. In that case, he should take an AP English course and a pre-Algebra math course at that given point in time. I do not believe that all students should be assigned to tracking set in stone, such as a generalized “lower track” for all courses for one student, or a generalized “higher track” for all courses for another student, for years on end even though that might be easy to manage logistically. That type of generalized “tracking” would damage students in more ways that I can elaborate here.

When I was ILT at the multi-aged, continuous progress school, grades 1 – 7, the principal, myself, and the team leaders of the 4 instructional pod, of 5 classes each, attended school meetings for a week or two before pre-planning actually began, officially, for all of the school’s teachers so that we could analyze correctly the various instructional permutations and assignments needed for every single student (based on his or her levels of completion in math and reading the previous year, as well as on his/her standardized test scores (and sometimes IQ scores).

In my opinion, more time by teachers and administrators needs to be spent on analysis and diagnosis of where individual students should be placed in all curriculum courses, at point in time. Concentrated instructional awareness of where each student would function best for his or her optimal growth should be afforded every student individually. Thereafter, instructional switches should be made, for students, during the year, in particular course, as needed. Knowing when those switches in instructional placement were necessary, at point in time, for every student in the school was my primary job responsibility as an Instructional Lead Teacher.

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Other poster: MES, if you taught in South DeKalb was it in in a segregated school?————————————————————–

Mary Elizabeth: I taught in South DeKalb County from 1971 – 2000.

The South DeKalb County school in which I functioned as an ILT, which I mentioned in my 5:30 p.m. post, had essentially a white student body and staff in the years in which I taught there, from 1975 – 1984. When I transferred to a high school in South DeKalb in 1984, which was in close proximity to the elementary/middle school where I had been the ILT, that high school was approximately equally white and black in student population, as well as in the teaching staff. During the period that I was in that high school, from 1984 until I retired in 2000, that school transitioned from being half white and black in student population to being essentially all black in student population because of white flight in the neighborhood. The high school was essentially all black, from 1989 – 2000, in student population, but the teaching staff remained white half and black half for all 16 years in which I taught there. (Of course, in both schools, there was a sprinkling of Asian, Hispanic, and other student nationalities, even in those days.)

The only officially segregated school I ever taught within was in an all-black elementary school after I had graduated from college in NYC and headed back to my roots in South Georgia in January of 1970. I was the only white person in the school. I taught 3rd graders out of grade level license, for that 1/2 year. The next year, 1970 -1971, the schools in Lowndes County (Valdosta, GA) were all integrated so that I taught both black and white students in Junior High School during that year in Lowndes County before I came to South DeKalb. After I retired, I worked as a substitute teacher in ten different middle and high schools in North Fulton County. The students in those schools were from multi-racial and multi-ethnical backgrounds from all areas of the world from 2001 – 2006.

I must say that I always saw every student I ever taught – from 1st through 12th grades, in various parts of this state and over various parts of the metro Atlanta area, as well as over decades (many of which involved dramatic social change) – as unique children and young people. I cared for all of my students very much, and I learned from all of them. I know that I was born to teach. I loved every day that I was blessed to have been a teacher to our young people in Georgia.

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On the same thread of the “Get Schooled” blog, I had posted the following comments regarding nationalized Common Core Standards for all public schools, on August 15, 2014:

Common Core standards should be consistent across the nation. However, individual students’ variant instructional levels must be allowed to exist within this standardized core of skills/concepts to be taught across the nation. And, the rate at which individual students can master these skills/concepts must also be given flexibility to adjust to individual differences.

Adjusting to individual differences within Common Core standards will take care of the differences in the overall educational development of the majority of students in Massachusetts and Georgia. Some students in Georgia are much more academically developed than some students in Massachusetts, and some in Massachusetts are behind some students in Georgia. The key is being allowed the flexibility within Common Core to allow skills/concepts on a curriculum continuum 1 -12 to be taught according to correct individual instructional placement and correct rate at which individual students can absorb those skills, across the nation – although the CC standards can be set for the majority of students across the nation for consistency. All of this can be accomplished as well as the variations and permutations that will invariably be needed in any excellent classroom.

We must never forget that all students do not have the same IQ levels and that means that invariably students will master skills/concepts on a curriculum continuum at differing rates. We must, as educators, make these individual adjustments in order to see the success of every student, at every point in time, become a reality of the future in public education.

Posted in Common Core Standards, Tracking Students, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plutocrats Are Trying To Control Public Education

I encourage readers of MaryElizabethSings, who are concerned about public education in America today, to read the words I posted, today, in response to another posters’ statement, on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution educational blog, “Get Schooled.” See below.
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“Another poster: ‘. . .teachers need to find ways to engage those outside your field if you really want to improve what you are doing.’
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Mary Elizabeth: ‘Would you say the same thing to the medical professionals – that they should find ways to engage those outside their field, such as businessmen, if they want to improve their medical expertise with their patients? I don’t think you would. That would be a highly presumptuous, and even arrogant statement to make to the physician who is serving your medical needs, would it not? Teachers, likewise, are trained in their field and are professionals no less than physicians.

The problems in education are mainly societal in nature. This nation integrated the races within our society in the 1960s and 1970s as had never been done below in two centuries previously of America’s existence. That is only one example of huge societal change that has affected the education of our young more than “poor teaching” has affected their education. Professional educators are looking for answers in how to address these upheavals and dramatic changes in society with wisdom and skill. Trial and error will be part of the process until better solutions are found. That is why I support public charter schools which are working with traditional public schools for the betterment of all the students. However, for a business mogul, such as Bill Gates, to state to those involved in educational change that it makes no difference whether a class is composed of 20 or 40 students demonstrates educational ignorance to most teachers and administrators.

Imo, Americans must not allow ourselves to believe the propaganda of the forces in this nation who are trying to dismantle public education. The wealthy and powerful leaders have ideological and political reasons for disseminating their treatise against public schools to the American public. They may have good intentions, or not, but what they will be doing is turning our public institutions into privately-controlled institutions which will no longer be truly service-oriented, but profit-oriented. I do not want to see professional educators or public school students become pawns for the profit of opportunists.

I do believe that parents should have a voice in the education of their children, however. I ,also, believe that the students, themselves, should have a voice in their own education. These are the “other voices” to whom the educators should be listening, not the business CEOs who have a different expertise and set of skills than do educators. As an illustrative example, the competent doctor will listen to his/her patients before they decide, together, the best medical plan for the patient. The doctor would not think of soliciting the advice of Bill Gates, or any other CEO, about the best way to practice medicine. Physicians continue to learn new information in the medical field throughout their professional lives, and so do teachers. It is unreasonable, to me, to believe that people who have never taught students, themselves, should be given the authority to develop educational policy for educators.

Some things have gone awry in education, to some extent, but each person must look, within, to consider how much he or she has been influenced, without even realizing it, by the particular powerful and wealthy of this country who have an ideological, political agenda to make manifest. These people are plutocrats, not educators. We want to keep our democratic-republic viable. We must not allow it to become an oligarchy, controlled by the few of wealth and power. Please consider what I have written.'”

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jul/28/bad-student-writers-you-get-what-you-pay/

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More on Education – Differentiating Instruction

I believe that readers of “MaryElizabethSings” will appreciate this post which I just placed on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s blog entitled, “Get Schooled,” under the supervision of AJC educational columnist Maureen Downey.  Readers should read Ms. Downey’s entire thread which highlights the direction that Georgia’s Department of Education is moving in better educating all of Georgia’s students, with precision.  The link to Ms. Downey’s article is: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jul/24/georgia-rolls-out-growth-model-does-it-help-know-y/

My post, in which I describe differentiated instruction, and the need for it, in detail, is posted below:

“I wish that I had more time to give more thoughts, of the moment, on this very important thread topic, but I simply do not. So, as second best, I will offer a couple of additional links to my blog which may help some teachers to be able to differentiate instruction with more ease. The bottom line is that students MUST be taught where they are functioning or they will NOT learn and grow – and will drop out of school, in large part, as a result. This is not their fault, in large part. It is the fault of the educational system’s not addressing effectively where each student is functioning. Educators, from the highest ranks to the lowest, must take ownership of that failure in design in public education and correct it. This is a main way to make our traditional public schools more successful with all students.

To class80olddog:
If I had had a chance to respond to your posts to me yesterday, I was going to write that it seemed to me that you were not an actual teacher from your posts which explained why you do not think that teachers can differentiate instruction effectively with the variations that exist with students. Two constructive thoughts: First, educators simply cannot put a 9th grade student who is reading on 3rd grade level (and who may have already failed two grades and be 16 years old) in a class with 8 year olds who are reading on 3rd grade level. Secondly, even if a given child were to be failed to “catch up” with his peers, he might not be able to keep up with the rate of their learning which would precipitate more “failing” in a vicious cycle of failure until he drops out of school. I do not think you grasp in detail what teachers already are dealing with daily, in terms of differentiating their instruction. In reading your posts to me from yesterday, it seemed to me that you were visualizing and thinking about instructional problems in public schools in the abstract, and not in the concrete from actually having had teaching experience. As a result, it is no surprise that what IS possible for teachers to accomplish does not seem possible to you. Thereafter, I read Original Prof’s post to you in which she mentioned that you were a businessman, not a teacher. I truly think that that is the reason that you are not able to visualize what teachers can, and do, accomplish with students of varied skills and abilities in the same classes, daily. Perhaps, if nothing else this thread and the comments of posters who are or have been teachers will alert the general public that teaching is a demanding and highly skilled profession and that it is led by professionals. That training and experience in the field is why educators need to control education, with parent input, and not the other way around.

So, here are a couple of my links which will, in the first one, describe how I differentiated instruction in my classes when I was a teacher of a college prep reading course, and, in the second link, I offer some additional thoughts about how to differentiate instruction. 

(PLEASE NOTE: I have not refined and edited my blog threads, in great detail, yet for conciseness because I am working on a couple of other projects at the moment, but I will do so in the years to come. In the meantime, I felt that it was better to get the knowledge about instruction which I have accrued over the years “out there” now on my blog, and refine my entries later. My apologies for the length of some of my blog’s posts, as a result of lack of time to edit in detail currently.) 

(1) Entitled: “Ways to Teach Students Who Are Functioning On Different Instructional Levels In The Same Grade”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/ways-to-teach-students-who-are-functioning-on-different-instructional-levels-in-the-same-grade/

(2) Entitled: ‘My Thoughts For Improving Public Education”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/educational-essay-9-my-thoughts-for-improving-public-education/ 

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Another Poster: “Overall my kids did well. I was surprised that the higher level kids were generally the ones who showed the most growth, though. Counter-intuitive”
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Mary Elizabeth: “No really counter-intuitive. The most acadimic growth will, more than likely, show forth with those students who have the highest IQs because they generally will learn at a faster rate, with mastery, than will those students with average and lower than average IQs.

ADDENDUM to my 12:11 a.m. post.

Allow me to demonstrate to this reading audience, very specifically, through my example of an opposite case of “Another Poster’s” high level students, regarding how a student who is functioning on a low level in comparison with his age peers, and who also happens to have a lower than average IQ, will not progress as much in a year as much as his average and above average IQ age peers. After you read, below, what happens to “Johnny” over the years in becoming significantly behind his age peers, perhaps you will use your imaginations to envision how students (such as Another Poster’s) who have IQs above the average for their age groups will progress (or grow) more than those who have lower IQs in a given year.

Also, when you read Johnny’s case in detail, perhaps you (the reading audience) can better understand why students have a wider range of functioning levels in the higher grades than in the lower grades. This instructional phenomenon will always be true because students (and people) will always have varied IQ. levels. This is no one’s “fault” – not the parents, not the teachers, not the students. However, as educators, we must address this forever present wide range of students’ functioning levels in every grade level from k-12, or we will not reach, nor be successful with, every student throughout his/her tenure in public elementary, middle, and high schools.

JOHNNY’s CASE:

‘I was taught, as a graduate student, that if a student is reading within two years of his grade level, that he will be able to function in the reading requirements for that grade level. This means that if a 7th grade student is reading on 5th grade level that he will be able to function in the material for the 7th grade, but if he is reading on 4th grade level or below, in 7th grade, then he will not be able to function on 7th grade material.

Now, in considering the variable of IQ score, Johnny has scored in the IQ range of 83 to 88 for several years. That means that he is probably below average in his innate potential. One could, then, reasonably expect Johnny to grow 7 months in a 12 month period. Let’s say Johnny is in 2nd grade and he is reading on grade level 1.5 which is sufficient for him to function in 2nd grade. Next, he enters 3rd grade and he is reading on 2.2 grade level, having grown 7 months in 2nd grade. Johnny should still be able to learn and grow in 3rd grade because he is not reading more than two years behind 3rd grade level. So, he grows another 7 months in 3rd grade, with good instruction, based on his potential.

Now, we have Johnny in 4th grade and he has advanced in his reading skills to 2.9 grade level, which is within the two year cut off point for being able to master the curriculum for 4th grade. Next year, Johnny is in 5th grade and, having advanced 7 months in a year, he is reading on 3.6 grade level, but he can still cope. The next year, in 6th grade, Johnny is only reading on 4.3 grade level which is barely sufficient for coping with 6th grade material. In 7th grade, Johnny is only reading on 5.0 grade level, and he just barely passes his classes, but he does pass to 8th grade. In 8th grade, he reading on 5.7 grade level. Each year, then, from 2nd grade to 8th grade, Johnny has made his maximum progress which was – based on his IQ potential – 7 months of growth for a year’s work.

Johnny has been promoted to 8th grade because he passed 7th grade curriculum, but he is only reading on 5.7 grade level in the 8th grade, or more than two years behind his grade level. Therefore, although his 8th grade teacher may be a good teacher, Johnny may not advance 7 months in the 8th grade, as before, because he will have been taught on his frustration level during his 8th grade year. Johnny’s teacher was not aware of his IQ scores, nor of his academic developmental history, which had shown how he finally reached an academic frustration point in his 8th grade school year. In fact, Johnny may even regress in his reading skills in 8th grade because he will have spent a year being taught on his frustration level. At the end of his 8th grade year, his reading level may only be 5.5 grade level. When he entered 8th grade, his reading level was 5.7 grade level. His teacher is surprised that she received a poor rating based on Johnny’s 2 months’ regression in his standardized test scores. After all, his previous years’ scores had shown that Johnny could be expected to advance at least 7 months in a year’s time. His teacher does not know why he regressed by 2 months since she had tried so hard to help him grow. Johnny does enter 9th grade, however, because he (barely) passed most of his classes even though he regressed in his standardized reading scores, but now he is only reading on grade level 5.5 in 9th grade, or 3 and 1/2 years behind grade level – a perfect candidate for drop-out status. If teachers had made wise and prudent use of Johnny’s IQ scores, as well as having spent time assessing his developmental history, they might have analyzed his unique needs more wisely, earlier, and they might have provided him with the remediation he needed, earlier, even though he was advancing ‘according to how he had advanced previously.’ “

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/the-case-for-continuous-progress-for-students-in-grades-k-12/

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