I’d like to live in a world where relationships mean more to people than getting ahead. Where instead of saving yourself, you grab as many hands as you can hold. I fear in that place, it only rains at night….
My opinion in 700 words. Exactly.
The Boston Public Schools have sent out the results of the terranova test. A test they use as the single factor in determining which kids should be invited to advanced work classes (AWC).
My daughter (8), a third grader, didn’t get an invitation. Disclaimer: The rest of what I’m going to say about AWC isn’t rooted in the fact that she didn’t get in. I felt the same way three years ago when my son did get an invitation.
It is educational apartheid. It decimates classrooms, schools and communities. We didn’t accept the invitation to advanced work for my son because it is wrong in so many ways, and thankfully, the majority of kids in my son’s class, who also got an invitation didn’t accept it either.
His class stayed intact. The parents thought the sense of community was greater than anything they could gain by leaving. Instead, they were nurtured and educated in our small school and then sent out into the world all the better for it.
Sadly, this is not happening in my daughter’s class. Most kids are going to accept the invitation, which means they will leave our school and go to a school that has an advanced work classroom. The majority of kids who received an invitation are middle-class. It was the same in my son’s class, and all classes since. I hope others see a problem with this as well.
The Boston Public School system should know that a good teacher can inspire and challenge all of the kids in his or her classroom. In schools all across the country, teachers are educating mixed-level students in a single classroom. Why is it different here? There is no need to test kids out – at least not starting in 4th grade.
How is it helpful to society as a whole if the kids who are considered smarter are moved to a different classroom? The AWC system divides not unites and the schools are a mess because of it.
Not every child fits into a single box. I’ve seen the way a functioning classroom works. The kids all learn from each other and the “smarter” kids show the others what can be achieved. Questions are asked that might not have been asked. Those questions lead all the kids down new roads, discovering things they otherwise might not have. They not only learn from the teacher, much of the learning comes from each other. The bar is set higher in a classroom with a mix of students. They all have a better chance to rise to the surface if more is expected of each and every one of them. Won’t this city be better for it?
I was not prepared for my daughter’s test results. She is not a mediocre student. She’s actually quite smart, at least that’s what I’ve noticed and what her teachers have been telling me all these years. Her test scores were abysmal. They do not adequately represent what she is capable of, or what her schoolwork shows she is learning.
BPS has put my daughter in a box along with all of the other third graders. She’ll have to stay at her school while others are given choices. While I would not have moved her to AWC even if she had received an invitation, I think it is wrong that the others are given a choice and the makeup of her classroom may change for the worse.
I am appalled that BPS continues to let this happen, and that little or no discussion about how to change this system is occurring. Separating kids based on a single test starting in fourth grade is too early, and it is hurting students and our schools not helping them.
My daughter will forge ahead in her more than adequate school. We’ll both make new friends and be better for it.
Her life hasn’t been ruined. She’ll still have every chance in the world to follow her dreams. She’ll do in life what she wants to do no matter where she goes to school. She’s smart and she won’t be left behind just because the others think they are getting ahead.