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05 September 2014 @ 09:30 am
Push, push, push...right to the edge  
This link in the recent NCLE Smart Brief made me want to scream: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140902/SCHOOLS/309020027/Garden-City-Schools-offer-accelerated-learning-elementary-schools. The story, entitled Garden City Schools offer accelerated learning elementary schools, touts a new program whereby elementary kids are offered pre-pre-pre-pre-AP/Honors courses to "give students the skills they need to prepare for high school AP courses."

My concerns:

1. The first concern is why are we accelerating kids so much, period. Why push kids?

2. My second concern is why not offer the approach (which sounds a bit like PBL meets differentiated instruction meets acceleration with maybe a bit of the flipped classroom) to ALL kids?

3. Third, it is not made clear how kids are selected (or not selected) to be a part of the program. Here is the information from the article: "Those accepted into the program are described as highly motivated, creative students who excel academically (especially in math and English language arts) and have a strong sense of leadership."
I wonder how we distinguish which kids are "highly" motivated from the rest? How are we measuring creativity? I know test scores are a factor but what do we use to screen for leadership?

There is one reference to this being for GT kids late in the article, so I am not sure if this IS the intent of the program or not. But it still begs the question posed in Point #2 above.

Finally, my concern is that NCLE Smart Brief highlights this story without comment. I find its inclusion a tacit endorsement (what else can I think without any commentary), and I question how this approach to instruction is grounded in solid literacy theory and practice. It is not the first link I have questioned from these "newsletters." I doubt it will be the last. What I wish I did see featured in these briefs are links to blogs like those of Paul Hankins, Katherine Sokolowski, and others. Or links to articles by Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller. What I get are headlines that tout an approach that seems to me to do nothing to promote literacy, especially literacy for ALL kids.
 
 
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