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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:14 AM
Original message
Rich Kid, Poor Kid - Who gets the education?
From "Daily Kos:

Shakespeares Sister's diary:

Education, poverty, and the quest for a Return on Investment in the poorer districts

Three weeks into the school year and I am busy preparing for my classes. Today, though, I am not preparing an actual lesson for the four out of six classes that I teach; I am instead preparing to spend those four hours a day working on other aspects of my teaching responsibilities (writing Advanced Learning Plans, planning future lessons) because I have to take each and every one of my sophomore classes to testing all week. Why do I have to do this? Because 74% of my students qualify for free and reduced lunches. No one, however, wants to talk about this or even admit it.

Let me take a step back and explain. I work (note that I do not say "teach") for a school district near Denver Colorado, one that has a population of 77% Hispanics. For the past few years, the District has posted almost no gains on the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP), and so to remedy that issue, they have enacted many policies aimed at changing that lack of upward trend. Among those policies are: Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing four times a year with each testing round taking a week, with the goals of providing the District with more "data" to improve their curriculum focus, and also to predict what the students CSAP scores will be. Each high school teacher must also follow rigidly structured curriculum documents which focus on Colorado state standards excuse me the standards most tested by the CSAP. More on that to follow.

Having provided that background information, I must of course revert to the original issue: my students are so frequently tested because they are of low socio-economic status, but no one admits this. The comparable high school in Boulder, Colorado, one that offers the same programs, only has a free and reduced lunch percentage of 4.5, and their percentage of "Students of Color" rests at a modest 15. In this Boulder school, because their CSAP test scores remain high, these students do not participate in such "rigorous" testing practices in order to produce "data" for the school district.

I repeat all of this information to say two things, and heres one of them: the constant testing of students to produce "data" reduces them to the worst of things a "Return on Investment" or ROI, a term quite common in the business world. The "business" definition of ROI is "the most common profitability ratio." Interestingly enough, I spent enough time in that world when I was paying my way through college (paying being a loose term as I now have a significant amount of student debt) to know what it really means. A businessperson or manager or, in this case, Superintendent expects to put a certain amount of effort into the business, in order to get a certain return, or to keep a job. In the case of my students, they are subjected to a rigorously-structured curriculum, as well as testing four times a year, all in order to produce numbers numbers that someone who does not know my students will analyze in order to decide how proficient they are at taking a test not necessarily at thinking.
(Read the rest. It is crucial)
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/9/15/782074/-Ric...

Sad state of affairs!
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:38 AM
Response to Original message
1. Blog entries like this bother me because there seems to be this implicit

acquiesence to the idea that poorer students cannot learn and perform the same material as wealthier students (or at least to some minimum criteria). Worse yet when the writers us ethe racial or ethnic classification of students as some kind of "explanation" for poor performance.




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mix Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:44 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. You miss the point.
It is their socio-economic status that is the key factor here.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:58 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Maybe I am, but poor kids have to know the basics too so that they


can pass AP tests, do well on SATs and ACTs, and have the basic skills to succeed in college.

I support the teaching of problem solving and critical thinking skills too, but if one doesn't have basic facts or processes memorized and at one's cognitive disposal, then not much problem solving or critical thinking can occur.








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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:46 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. 'Implied' by whom, the writer, OR THE EDUCATION SYSTEM?
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:58 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. in this case the writer.
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 06:59 AM by aikoaiko


It appears the school system that is focussing on the teaching of the basic skills assessed on the test DO think that they can learn them.
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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:59 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. I don't think the teacher is acquiescing to anything.
She has to retest the students because they don't perform well enough on a standard test that somebody decided was the line to use for passing.

If you were to look at classes in some parts of America where there are low socioeconomic conditions with another ethnic group as a majority, you would probably get the same results.

She isn't allowed to work any underlying problems that might cause a poorer performance. I would be willing to bet that a low reading level is a lot of it. It's not that they can't read on a higher level. They may need a little more instruction in that area. If they read better they will perform better, and I believe that is true no matter who you are.

When I taught, I was teaching 7th and 8th graders. I looked up reading levels and not IQs. That told me more about how to approach a class. I did it for all classes. I had a lot of students that read on a 2nd and 3rd grade level. I threw out the basic approach to lessons I was supposed to use. I redesigned them to try to teach reading as well as subject matter. I wasn't assuming they couldn't learn. I thought they needed a different approach to succeed, and not just in my classes.

I know they weren't stupid. I had students who would listen to me and try to do the written work. Their written work would be incomprehensible at times. An example is a student who spelled "cactus" as "ceodar." I remember that 30 years later. I talked to this student later, and we went over the material. He explained it quite well. He was able to absorb the lesson by listening, and that impressed me.

All kids deserve more than judgement by constant testing. We have gotten away from what school and teaching should really be about.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:10 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. sophmore in high school. that is about the place, right there, student decides done
with school, or not. from experience, by the time the kid is this age they have decided, not any of us, but the student has decided if they are going to try or not. and how do you make a child learn.

what is really the issue of the lower income environments and upper income environments on the childrens education?

patterns on learning started way before this sophmore year of high school
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Here is an example of her acquiescence.

Take this paragraph.


Blogwriter:
I guess I wanted to write this to say three things, and this last one is most important to me: I want to teach. I want to teach my students to think critically, to come up with new ideas, and to be problem-solvers because goodness knows our country has enough problems. I had a problem: I didnt like the layout of the desks in my room, but a student who had more of a vision for such a thing figured out where they should go, and now my students work better because their desks are arranged in a smarter way. (Yes, I know Im a teacher, but visual-spatial was never one of my strong points). However, that particular skill utilized by my student is not on a standardized test, nor was it on my board, and if the administration had walked through as we were re-arranging the desks, I undoubtedly would have received no check-marks on my walk-through evaluation form.


These tests are basic skills tests for the most part. The types of tests that are similar to the ones needed to pass advanced classes, AP tests, do well on SATs and ACTS, and allow students to succeed in college.

Apparently her students don't have these skills and instead of teaching them to master those skills she'd rather focus on higher level problem solving and critical thinking skills. Of course when you don't have a good grasp of basic facts and processes it really difficult to think critically or problem solve because you don't know what to think about.




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eilen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:48 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. people who can't read don't necessarily lack critical thinking skills.
in fact, they may have a higher level of problem solving skills as they cannot read and must work around that. Or, they may be able to read but not in English. My stepfather never graduated high school. He dropped out in the late 1950's to become a meat cutter's apprentice as he knocked up his girlfriend and had to get married. He had very good personal skills and the ladies loved coming in, esp. the older ones as he was charming and the butcher shop did a good business. Later he went into sales, real estate and did very well. When it came time to change professions, he got into a sales representative job for an electrical parts company. He totally lied on his resume regarding his education. He went to training, studied 6 inch thick technical manuals and learned electrical design/wiring requirements and code. He ultimately custom designed systems using the products his company sold and sold them to contractors based on blueprints of the proposed building. He had no college level engineering. I am sure back in the day he would have been considered at the same level of socio-economics as the young people in the above discussed article. His parents were immigrants with 10 kids. His mother was widowed when he was 14. They had no money and the kids worked all summer as field workers in the surrounding farms to pay for food, clothing and shelter.

My mother helped him with his correspondence and resumes. He was great with clients and won cruises every year. I doubt that he had an 11th grade reading level at school when he dropped out nor had he one engineering or advanced math class.
He was considered quite a success as he wore suits and drove a luxury (company) car in his 40's and 50's.
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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:10 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. I wasn't trying to dis anyone.
Your father sounds like he was a remarkable man.

I also believe that just because a student can't read, that doesn't mean he lacks other attributes of intelligence. I do believe, however, that your father was an exception and not the rule. By that I mean, he was able to succeed without being able to read. I still think that being able to read well serves students a lot. Not everyone has the other skills that your father possessed.
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eilen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:33 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. I wasn't suggesting that, I understand what you mean
My stepdad was not illiterate, just not educated and he was not a "reader". He used to give me a hard time because I was reading and not "doing something."

I highly value reading, I believe it provides a foundation for everything else. I am just saying that kids can be very good at problem solving without knowing all the 3 R's. I believe the problem with kids learning is not helped by the schools constantly testing them. Kids get test fatigue, test anxiety and bored to death of testing. Testing does not engage, it does not inspire, it does not show connections or revelation. There is little human component or investment in a child when a test is flipped open for them. There is no imagination, no line of logic, no exposition of how the information relates to their lives in a test question. If a kid can't read, read to them. I read to patients all the time. Some kids can read, not so well, but can't sit. If a kid is not sitting, it does not mean they are not listening. To waste four weeks on testing in addition to the standard tests is inefficient and depriving the children of a month of schooling. Teachers are qualified to see the standards and design their curriculum to meet them, maybe the administration should let them off the leash do their job as they see best.
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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:45 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Okay. Thanks...
:hi:

I learned to read starting with comic books. My grandmother had spasms about that. Luckily my parents ignored her.

I learned how to be subversive by reading "Mad" magazine. Little did my parents know that it was more than just a comic.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:11 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. of course not. and kids who fail in school doesnt mean they have a low iq and
arent capable

ok

true enough adn about all of us know this.

now, the problem in these schools
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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:42 AM
Response to Reply #11
14. As I see it, there will be change.
However, is it change just for the sake of change? One of my biggest worries is the number of students who just opt out. Will the new methods really help most students or just push out more who aren't achieveing.

Arne Duncan did a good job by a lot of accounts in Chicago. I think it is instructive to read about problems that were created by using his methods.
He has $10 billion dollars to work with as Sec. of Education. He is using it as a carrot to get states to conform to testing requirements. Laws have been changed so that states can receive the money. Charter schools are the wave of the future.

I have real problems with education as it is. However, I'm not convinced that the new wave is any better. People are raging about socialism and government takeover of health care. They aren't paying much attention to where the real takeover is.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:45 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. but i gotta ask
regardless of how painful it is.... what is the real problem here. if we never talk about the real problem, how can we ever hope to find a solution?
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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #16
20. In my view, the real problem that should be addressed first
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 09:14 AM by Are_grits_groceries
is early education. Headstart should be expanded and set up to reach even younger students. Parenting classes should be in schools for ALL students.

I asked my Physics students how many of them thought they would use physics again. One hand went up. I then asked them how many of them wanted to have kids. Almost all hands went up. My third question was why weren't they signed up for the childcare classes offered at the school? Was the "Parenting Fairy" going to tap them with a magic wand and give them a clue about raising kids? Unless they had much younger siblings, they weren't dealing with younger children growing up.

I also think that every child should know that if they finish school, they can get some type of other training that will be paid for. I don't care if they want to work on cars or be rocket scientists. There are people who have worked with classes here and there. You read about them promising the entire class that if they graduate then college will be paid for.

That gives them HOPE. Hope can be a remarkable idea.

Of course, education between those two points has to be reworked. I just believe without a good beginning and a future in the end, the middle can be just marking time.

I know this gets all tied into the economy and jobs, but you have to start somewhere.

We will either build more prisons or decent schools. We seem to be working on the prison angle quite well.

(I once almost gave an aunt of mine a stroke. I told her if my future looked like only parttime at McDonalds if that, I would be probably be growing weed somewhere or worse.)
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #20
22. exactly. you are exactly right on. all the rest is waste of time, because
by sophmore, you have lost, .... of the early isnt address. and some kind of edcuation for the kids that are not going to college. and there will be many.

many kids walk into their future from what they have lived with their family. it is their norm.

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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:22 AM
Response to Reply #9
23. Of course, but not being able to read, understand functions, basic math, etc. makes problem and
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 09:23 AM by aikoaiko

critical thinking more difficult. You're stepfather is a remarkable person. As you say he might not have had even a 11th grade reading level, but he could read and comprehend complicated technical material. The kids today can't do that.

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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:24 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. If you mean acquiescence as conforming to what
was expected by the school district, you are right. She points out that if she had allowed a student to show the new desk pattern she would have been called out if someone took that moment to check on what she was teaching. That allows for very little deviance.

I'd be willing to bet that she was also assigned certain materials to use and had to prepare lesson plans with those materials. If she didn't use them, she would probably be called out again. She probably wouldn't be able to rearrange her material like I tried to in order to help the students. Some administrators are sticklers and know the petty points to rate someone on.

So she has a problem. She deviates from the assigned material and uses a different method. In doing so, she may very well risk her job. That would probably be the situation for a lot of teachers.

I left teaching when all the testing hooha was beginning to be implemented. I would have lasted a year if I was lucky. I can imagine the marks and lectures I would have received.

Testing has a valid place in education. However, the way it is designed and implemented makes a world of difference.
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #1
17. I believe her point is that these tests produce statistics, not learning.
As she says:

I repeat all of this information to say two things, and heres one of them: the constant testing of students to produce "data" reduces them to the worst of things a "Return on Investment" or ROI, a term quite common in the business world. The "business" definition of ROI is "the most common profitability ratio." Interestingly enough, I spent enough time in that world when I was paying my way through college (paying being a loose term as I now have a significant amount of student debt) to know what it really means. A businessperson or manager or, in this case, Superintendent expects to put a certain amount of effort into the business, in order to get a certain return, or to keep a job. In the case of my students, they are subjected to a rigorously-structured curriculum, as well as testing four times a year, all in order to produce numbers numbers that someone who does not know my students will analyze in order to decide how proficient they are at taking a test not necessarily at thinking.


And, from my own memories of school, nothing was as boring as drilling for and taking tests. If her students are constantly forced to drill for and take tests, they are much more likely to be bored and disinterested than if they are stimulated through being challenged to think. Once a person becomes interested in learning, they'll teach themselves. I think the best thing a teacher can do is stimulate enough interest that the students teach themselves.

Yes, they need basics. But, they also need stimulation.

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Johonny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. I think her point is
more statistics isn't going to produce better scores. Sure familiarity with the test does help somewhat. But these kids lack a lot of thing and familiarity with the testing process isn't one of them. Having standards is nice, doing the right thing with the data collect is another.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:33 AM
Response to Reply #19
24. exactly. data not gonna change. so now, we are left with doing the tough stuff
that might actually help these kids, and ultimately their families, and ultimately.... this nation
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #17
31. I think that's only part of her point....

She wrote:
Among those policies are: Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing four times a year with each testing round taking a week, with the goals of providing the District with more "data" to improve their curriculum focus, and also to predict what the students CSAP scores will be. Each high school teacher must also follow rigidly structured curriculum documents which focus on Colorado state standards excuse me the standards most tested by the CSAP. More on that to follow.

Its really the redirected focus of her class time that is the issue for her.

I suppose my take on this is that students (particularly disadvantaged students) are failing basic skills tests -- really basic skills. Basic skills tests, flawed as they are, provide standardized assessments between different public schools (and this is a good thing). When groups of students fail basic skills, then focusing on those basic skills (including test taking skills) is needed. Because by the time high school students start taking SATs and ACTs, if they can't score well on those tests they lessen their chances for scholarships and even getting into college.

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kickysnana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #1
18. When your parents are fighting about money it is hard to learn
When the neighborhood gangs are targeting you or your little brother or sister it is hard to learn.
When you are taking care of the house and your little brothers and sisters while your parent(s) work two jobs it is hard to learn.
When your Mom or Dad's health needs are not being met it is hard to learn.
When you need extra help (we all do sometime) and all 34 other students in your glass need help, it is hard to learn.
When family or friends families are being rounded up and held indefinitely it is hard to learn.
When your older brother gets followed daily pulled over by the cops 3 times a week by police for no reason while coming home from his job as an asst manager it is hard to learn.
When your sister gets pregnant because she does not have access to birth control and the colicy baby comes to live with you, it is hard to learn.
When you keep overhearing teachers and school administrators making disparaging remarks about your ethnicity, orientation or economic class it is hard to learn.
When alcohol and street drugs are the only relief you have for your depression, it is hard to learn.
When neighborhood churches abandon their role in the community to make things better and start to make things worse it is hard to learn.
When adults think that insurance is health care, that medicare is available to all who need it, that schools are overfunded despite having no supplies, books or maintenance, that schools are some sort of social and political experiment whipping boy, it is hard to learn.
When everyone in the county not involved with you, and having no experience in education think they have a huge say in your school life (except you) and they are negative, stupid, and/or mean it is hard to learn.
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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:07 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. That is sadly the truth for
way too many kids. We can't save them all, but we can damn well do a better job of giving them a fighting chance.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #18
25. Doesn't all that point to the need for teachers to spend more time on the basics

and evaluate their success in student learning. The other things you mention are outside the scope of teachers and school. Of course, we should do better on all the non-school issues that make learning harder for the poor, but focusing on basic skills (including test taking skills) would seem to be part of the solution.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:37 AM
Response to Reply #25
27. what i really see the problem is, if the education is not valued and reinforced in home
if the parent is not a part of the process

then that knocks the childs chances way down.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #27
32. I agree,


Can teachers make a difference? I think they can. Poorer kids as a whole may never do as well as wealthier kids because of their disadvantages but that's not the goal. The goal is minimum basic skills.


This teacher is forced to a rigid curriculum because whatever was happening in the schools did work to overcome the disadvantages. Maybe the truth is that there is nothing teachers can do to overcome the disadvantages. I hope not because that is where we have the most control over the educational experiences of a child.

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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:46 AM
Response to Reply #25
28. Of course they need the basics.
You can't always get there if you are hamstrung by the material you have to use, and are judged if you aren't using "the correct method."

In addition, if you are tested 4 times a year, there is little time to really concentrate on teaching. Everybody is probably fretting and some probably have given up. By at least the 3rd test, I wouldn't give a damn. Even if I was passing, I probably wouldn't care.

Fail a kid 4 times, and see how they feel.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. true that. nt
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:36 AM
Response to Reply #18
26. the truth, yes. sanatized too. when having only one parent or no parent
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 10:14 AM by seabeyond
that cares about your education

when having an environment where learning is not held up as a priority

when parent is too busy with their life they are not a part of the childs

yes to all that you say. huge problem. huge issues. but it goes much further and not so pretty that we have to address too.
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surrealAmerican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:51 AM
Response to Original message
30. I thought MAP testing was administered to give teachers ...
... an idea of what their students already knew, and what areas they needed help with. If the results are not being used by the teachers, there is no point in giving the test.
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