The worst form of racism
One of the best ways out of poverty is education. One of the best ways to a better life is education. The taxpayers of Maryland and Baltimore City are paying for a top flight education. In fact, the per pupil expenditure for plain kids in Baltimore City is among the highest in the state. Evidently it is money VERY poorly spent.
iReady is a system that Baltimore City uses to assess the grade level performance of its students. Students are give iReady assessments three times a year to measure academic achievement. The most recent testing indicates that some students are performing as much as 10 grade levels below their age.
In one high school in Baltimore the over half of the students have a GPA of less than .99. That means the average GPA for that 50% of students is below failing. At least one student in the 11th grade at that school (and these are NOT supposed to be kids with disabilities) is functioning at only the 1st grade level in math. He will graduate next year. Kids are passing and graduating high school who are functionally illiterate in math and reading. Ninety percent of the kids tested in 6th grade were below grade level in math and reading. Yet they are not allowed to be retained in grade because the system thinks that is bad for their self esteem and they may be too old for grade in a year or two.
So instead, the City is graduating students who lack the skill set to get a decent job or go onto a community college for advanced training in a skilled trade. They can’t get a decent job or make a life for themselves.
The gun violence epidemic rages on in Baltimore and the students are released into the community ill-prepared to earn a decent living.
It is time for out-of-the-box thinking. Let’s stop putting students in grades that seem to have little or nothing to do with their achievement levels. Why not move to a program based on academic competency instead of grade level. Students would move from class to class based on what they have achieved academically and when. So a student could be at one level for math, another level for language arts and reading and a third or fourth level for science and social studies. The arts could be across levels so students would have some grouping with their chronological agemates, but even in the academic grouping there wouldn’t be more than a 3-4 year spread, not terribly unlike the original one-room school houses or even elementary schools today in some very rural communities.
What we are doing now, just moving students along an assembly line is cruel and serves them badly. We are paying for an educational program and promising that program to our kids and delivering a fake. It is the worse form of racism.