Friday, February 13, 2009

Leveling the Playing Field

Doyle, at Science teacher, has a fabulous post up today.
Some of these children will never pass the test.
All of these children can learn.

Those are not incompatible statements.
He draws on his years of experience as a doctor to discuss the various factors that impact student performance in schools and on tests. His basic message (as I see it) is that there are meaningful things every student can learn in school but we are only testing a small percentage of those things.

His post really got me thinking about the students I teach. Many of them have a whole host of factors betting against them. That doesn't mean they can't be successful, it just means they need a lot more from me than my daughter needs from her teacher (or most other middle class children need).

I'm lucky to teach in a very wealthy school district. It allows me to teach these students with a wealth of resources backing me up. That's not true in the great majority of schools teaching students living in poverty. Why is that? Why do we believe that all schools (at least within a district) should all have exactly the same resources? Why should all class sizes be the same? Why should funding for field trips be the same?

We know, very clearly, that our students' lives outside of school are not so fairly distributed. Why must their schooling be?

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