MCEF. Montgomery County Education Forum http://www.mcef.org Sponsoring group for the Equity in Education Coalition (EEC). Why does MCPS label our kids?. At the end of 2 nd grade MCPS will evaluate your child and decide whether to identify him or her as “gifted and talented.”.
Let us tell you what happens and why we think it’s wrong.
Each child is tested
Each child is recommended or not by her or his teacher.
Each child may be “nominated” by her or his parent or guardian.
Parents may have their children evaluated by “experts”.
This marks the beginning of separate “tracks” – “special education” and “on grade level” versus “honors, AP, IB” – that further segregate our children by middle and high school and deny our children the education they need.
Remedial versus enriched instruction
Worksheets versus hands-on labs
Rote memorization versus inquiry-based learning
However, MCPS, and its principals and teachers have worked hard over the years to reduce these effects
So do their parents.
As do the children, themselves.
They go to magnet programs and take AP and IB classes.
They get high SAT scores.
They prepare to go to college.
Act out in class;
Lose academic eligibility to participate in sports;
Malcolm Gladwell in his recent book Outliers refers to sociologist Robert Merton’s description of this kind of result as the “Matthew Effect”:
“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have in abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”
Gladwell explains the Matthew Effect - “It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success.”
Even in schools which are very diverse, classrooms are majority white and Asian OR African American and Latino.
You can notice this as you walk through most schools.
Children learn to study and work only with children who look like them.
Children receive the incorrect message that their racial or economic group is “smarter” or “dumber” than other groups.
Children on both ends of tracking suffer as a result.
Vickie Adamson, a Blair High School teacher, teaches an intentionally “detracked” honors American Studies English class with students who have been in “gifted, honors and magnet” classes and those who have been tracked out of those classes.
Some students discover that because of years of low expectations and less challenging work, they lack confidence and skills.
Georgian Forest and Burning Tree Elementary Schools are “no labels” pilot schools.
They do not identify students as “gifted and talented” or “not gifted and talented”.
Parents and children at the school are pleased with this innovation and content that children are getting their need met.
In Rockville Center, Long Island, a whole school system has “detracked” and it has found that all students’ achievement has risen because to teach ALL children well means high expectations and better teaching for everyone.
Carol Ann Tomlinson, at University of Virginia, tells the story of the “detracking” of two schools, in her book The Differentiated School.
Both schools – an elementary school and a high school – had “sweeping, positive results for staff and students.”
Joseph Renzulli at the NEAG Center for Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut advocates using strategies designed for “gifted” students for all students.
Let MCPS and the BOE know that we want “No Labels, No Limits!” for our children.Let’s work to change MCPS policy, to make our schools work for all of our children.
What can you do?
Make phone calls.
Attend Board of Education meetings.