Supporting deficiencies

A sinkhole of funds and expectations, good ol’ public schools. From my local paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, a summary of the poor math performance among high schoolers:

But in the six largest districts in El Paso County — Colorado Springs School District 11, Academy School District 20, Falcon School District 49, Harrison School District 2, Widefield School District 3, and Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 — fewer than 50 percent of 10th graders scored proficient or advanced in math. Over the last five years scores have remained flat, indicating schools haven’t found the silver bullet.
The humor lies in the end, where local districts detail the efforts being made to improve scores. In D-2, a fifth of 10th graders scored proficient or advanced in math: 21%. The plan to help won’t:
This year they rolled out a high school math program where geometry, algebra and other courses are integrated so students can see the connection between concepts.
In elementary school, Assistant Superintendent Dan Snowberger notes, they have set aside the idea that kids can’t get into higher math until they have memorized basics such as multiplication tables. “Some might never memorize it, so instead we get them engaged in higher math, scaffold the lessons and support them where there are deficiencies.” They are seeing positive results.
Scaffold the lessons and support deficiencies? Isn’t that what they did in Atlanta? Do you just supply a table for kids to look up the answer or a calculator. I’m not sure which is worse. It’s difficult for kids to grasp the interrelated concepts if they haven’t mastered the basics, i.e. memorizing math facts.
In a local charter school–the one with the highest scores in the county at 90 percent proficient or advanced–the explanation for success would prove unpopular. Why? It’s no longer politically correct:
Vanguard doesn’t socially promote kids, has high expectations and stresses parent support. Students are divided into zones based on ability rather than grade levels for math, and placement is emphasized in the first month of school. Students repeat material until they know it, and have an extra half hour daily for homework and extra help. The school uses Saxon math curriculum, which lays a foundation of skills and builds on it. Lectures are short; more time is spent doing problems so teachers can see issues and help.
No social promotion. High expectations. Parent support. Placement for ability. And what a kicker: students repeat material until they know it. That doesn’t sound like supporting a deficiency, eh?
 
Cross-posted at Potluck.
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