TWO KINDS OF FACTS: Speaking of American children!

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2013

Outstanding young lady turns 7: It isn’t every day that a cheerful young person turns 7.

For that reason, we’re on our way to Durham to look in on one such event.

Before leaving, we had planned to review a front-page report in the New York Times—the front-page report from Monday’s paper about so-called “ability grouping.”

Doggone it! We find we aren’t ready to do the piece justice. And so we will have to postpone.

Should “ability grouping” be used in American classrooms? We find it hard to imagine how such practices could be avoided, given the wide range of achievement levels in this country’s student population.

That said, Monday’s report by Vivien Yee contained some remarkable statistics about the use of “ability grouping.” The questions involved in her report connect directly to the concern voiced by Hacker and Dreifus about the new Common Core standards.

Does it make sense to have one set of “standards” for all the kids in a given grade? Given the nature of our student population, does that even come closeto making sense?

To us, that seems like a very important question. It seems like a blindingly obvious question. But it pretty much never gets asked.

Yee’s report was fascinating, in several ways. So were the attempts to comment offered at Slate and Salon.

Still and all, we’re going to have to postpone till next week. As you know, it isn’t every day that a cheerful young scholar turns 7.


  1. well, all you Rice lovers at DH...that did not take long. Even quicker than my cynical soul could have imagined.

    1. What? I don't get it.

    2. No surprise there.

    3. Eloquent... @ anonymous 11:44..

      Off to Syria we go....hi ho...

    4. Yep, Somerby's accurate analysis of the misrepresentation by the press of Susan Rice means both that those who agree "love" Rice, and that accepting that analysis is a path that leads inexorably to further US entanglement with Syria -- involvement that could have been avoided if only we'd ignored that Rice was misrepresented.

      No sensible person could disagree! -- Certainly no sensible case has been put forward by the likes of Jonst, and what could that mean but that reason is irrelevant?

      That eloquent enough for you, douchebag troll?

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  8. As a teacher, I had major objections to ability grouping. I taught in troubled neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago. Schools were evaluated solely on the percentage of students to achieve within one year of grade level on statewide standardized testing. Some principals quickly discovered they could make themselves appear as talented administrators by grouping the more able students. These students received the bulk of resources and attention since, if a majority of them scored well, the school would appear successful and administrators could bask in the praise of local politicians and newspaper columns.

    This tactic was often accompanied by a principal's strongly-worded suggestion that students having no change of making the prerequisite test score be referred and shunted into special education rooms so their scores would not be factored into the school's rankings. Needless to add, such special education rooms scarcely merit the title of classroom.

    As a teacher, I came to hate standardized tests. Used properly, they could be useful in estimating a student body's accomplishment, but, instead, they only misused to supersede every other measure of student accomplishment.

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