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Helping Some Students May Harm High Achievers 1114 writes "According to a new study performed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, increased emphasis on helping students with a history of lower academic achievement results in lower performance for high achievers. This trend appears to be related to the No Child Left Behind Act. Essentially, programs designed to devote a large number of resources to assisting students who are deemed to be 'significantly behind' leave little room for encouraging continued academic growth for higher-performing students."
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Helping Some Students May Harm High Achievers

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  • Death Coil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:24AM (#23852189)
    Well, sorry to say it but DUH. Anybody who has ever gotten decent grades could tell you this. Not really new news.
    • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:35AM (#23852693) Homepage

      Yeah, I think lots of people have been saying this for years. It's completely obvious, but unfortunately some people won't listen to even the most obvious things until you can say, "a study proved it." And of course, you never hear about any studies that prove obvious but politically-incorrect ideas.

      Anyway, yes, of course, kids don't simply raise themselves. Smart kids, dumb kids, it doesn't matter, they need people to pay attention to them, teach them, tell them what to do, be given examples of what to be, etc. Attention is a limited resource, and the more attention to pay to some kids, the less you pay to others. So if you pay all your attention to the problem kids and the dumb kids, the well-behaved kids and the smart kids suffer.

      And no, really, the smart kids don't take care of themselves. All kids need attention.

      • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ryanemitchell ( 1304523 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:11AM (#23852921)

        It's completely obvious, but unfortunately some people won't listen to even the most obvious things until you can say, "a study proved it."

        I don't think this is quite true -- if it were, there wouldn't be so many morons rubbing organic garlic on their feet to try to get rid of their headaches. "Obvious" is subjective, and can often be misleading. If there were more people that evaluated studies before making a decision, the world would be a much better place (and, no, we wouldn't have the "No Child Left Behind" act.
        • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Interesting)

          by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:46AM (#23853149) Homepage

          I'm not saying that many people actually evaluate studies. I'm saying they literally just need to hear the magic words "studies prove". It may be that there are people rubbing garlic on their feet to get rid of headaches (hadn't heard that), but I assure you a lot more would if there were a rumor that "studies had proven" that garlic on the feet was a good headache cure. Get someone to say on TV that "studies have proven" it, and everyone will do it.

          Anyway, I said *some* people won't believe obvious things until you say that "studies have proven it". You respond by providing an example where other people have believed something that's not at all obvious without having evaluated any studies. So your example obviously doesn't serve to rebut but claim.

          But yeah, some things are counter-intuitive, and so you can't always trust "obvious"="true". I don't agree, though, that "obvious" is completely subjective, nor the implication that obvious things should be ignored until proven. Obvious things should, under most circumstances and for most purposes, be assumed to be true until otherwise proven.

          I would explain further or try to give examples, but I think the truth of my claims are rather obvious.

          • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Temujin_12 ( 832986 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @10:38AM (#23856445)

            Get someone to say on TV that "studies have proven" it, and everyone will do it.
            Sorry, I had to chime in on a pet peeve of mine. What bothers me about this is that it seems like a significant portion of the population abandon all critical or independent thinking once the magical phrase "studies have proven" or "they've proven" is used, even when no context describing the "study" or who "they" are is given. I know several people who liberally weave these phrases into conversation or debates with the implied meaning that since "they've proven it" the matter is beyond debate. If you stop them and question who "they" are and/or the validity of the "proof" they become very defensive (even when your questioning is genuine and non combative). It makes for very narrow-minded and frustrating discussions.

            Now, if a scientific study has been made and has conclusive results (which happens less often than we'd like to think), you should initially have reason to believe it. But stopping there is just intellectually lazy (or ignorant). You should look into the context of the "study". Find out who "they" are (and more to the point, who's funding them). Find out how strong the correlation was (you've studied statistics haven't you?). Find out if there is a consensus in the scientific community about this "study". Find out if there are any conflicting studies. Etc.

            I'm not saying you need to detailed analysis on every study you come across. All it takes is a few minutes of searching to gain a better understanding of the context that surrounds a "study" (assuming the referenced "study" even occurred in the first place). Doing this, you can avoid many of the conspiracies or frauds out there that prey on the intellectually lazy.

            • Re:Death Coil (Score:4, Insightful)

              by ChromaticDragon ( 1034458 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @11:11AM (#23857305)
              I think your pet peeve is part of a larger problem. For whatever reason, we seem (as a society) very prone to simplification. It may very well be that most of us cannot entertain complex issues. However, this behavior seems just as well represented among the highly intelligent and the humble norm. That is, it seems to be a special thing to be able (or to have been trained?) to accommodate shades of grey or conflicting data.

              With regards to scientific studies, people (primarily journalists?) summarize things down to one or two points. We all see this sort of thing all the time for presentations and management discussions. The only problem is when we forget all that is lost in such consolidation. Furthermore, when the summaries of successive studies contradict each other people tend to lose faith (?) in studies at all and drift back to traditions, etc. (going to get some garlic now...)

              With regards to children and education, I see this in the ever present glorification of "THE COMPUTER". It is amazing how consistent this is in today's cartoons for kids. There is incredibly often some version of the classic Delphi Oracle mascarading as a Computer. A Computer which knows all and will answer all - usually in simple straightforward answers. This doesn't seem to bode well for our overall ability to execute critical thinking.
        • by JamesP ( 688957 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:56AM (#23853243)
          rubbing organic garlic on their feet to try to get rid of their headaches

          No maaaaan, you apply it directly to the forehead...
      • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:38AM (#23853091)
        The plural of anecdote is not data, if you think that we should lead our lives by what we consider common sense, then you're really barking up the wrong tree. Common sense is neither common nor sensible.
        • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:18AM (#23854511) Homepage Journal

          The plural of anecdote is not data
          This is mostly due to the fact that, in contemporary speech, "data" has become a singular noun.
          Please excuse me while I "respond back" to some email.
      • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:59AM (#23853271) Homepage
        I remember i was looking at being a teacher once, so I was tagging along with a teacher in class. This one test, the smart girl finished early, and told the teacher. So they teacher just told her to sit quietly and wait for the end of the lesson (which was the end of the test for everyone else). I was dumbstruck, the kid was sitting there for 20 minutes, doing nothing, when she could have been doing some work!
        • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fprintf ( 82740 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:16AM (#23853477) Journal
          This is common, but from a kid's perspective, most would rather be sitting quietly or reading a book than doing more *work* than everyone else has to do.

          My son is in 6th grade and has been at the top of his class since he joined school. He finished the No Child Left Behind mastery tests usually in 20 minutes or less even when the test was supposed to take between 60 and 90 minutes. Even given that, he scored in the 97th - 99th percentile for scores for the last three years (4th, 5th, 6th grade). He gets his smarts from his mother, but gets his motivation, or lack of it, from me. :-)

          I say all this because my experience with him and some of his classmates is exactly as described. In fact, we worry that the smart kids are rushing to get done just so they can get to the free time or reading time that much earlier. It almost becomes a race. If it wasn't for the fact that my son's scores are high, we'd have done somethign about it. The thing is, he was asked to be in an academically gifted program and he hated it, not because it wasn't interesting, but because it was more work!

          I can see your point, but until we return to a policy of creating "smart kid" classes and "not-so-smart kid" classes, instead of the enforced homogeneous classes we have nowadays, it is unlikely that teachers will be able to cope with students that move at such different speeds. They try all kinds of strategies, like pairing the smart kids together into challenging reading groups, or assigning targeted homework, but 80% of the day is done together with everyone.
          • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:40AM (#23853779) Homepage Journal

            I can see your point, but until we return to a policy of creating "smart kid" classes and "not-so-smart kid" classes
            But ... but ... but, that's not fair!
            • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

              by mrand ( 147739 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:35AM (#23854893)

              I can see your point, but until we return to a policy of creating "smart kid" classes and "not-so-smart kid" classes
              But ... but ... but, that's not fair!
              No kidding. It most certainly is not fair to the smart kids to be stuck in a classroom where the teacher is forced to spend all their time trying to get the struggling kids up-to-minimal level.
          • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mttlg ( 174815 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @11:30AM (#23857731) Homepage Journal

            This is common, but from a kid's perspective, most would rather be sitting quietly or reading a book than doing more *work* than everyone else has to do.

            You try "sitting quietly" for an hour of so in an exam room. It is just so much more fun than work, especially when it's a multi-day test - oh boy, another hour of sitting quietly tomorrow! Let me tell you, I would have gladly read the phone book if it had been an option, but outside material (even if it was only for use after the test) was never allowed in these tests when I was in high school way back in the olden days of the 1990s. In fact, I did manage to pass some time after a math test once by staring at log tables, so I imagine that a phone book would have been good for at least an hour. You were lucky if you could even get a piece of paper to doodle on in these types of tests. I remember that I was only able to get through one of them because I had a few Weird Al albums memorized, and that wore thin after two or three days. As far as I'm concerned, "sitting quietly" is nothing short of psychological abuse. And yes, I am bitter; some things just can not be forgiven.

          • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mblase ( 200735 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @11:52AM (#23858279)
            He gets his smarts from his mother, but gets his motivation, or lack of it, from me. :-) ... The thing is, he was asked to be in an academically gifted program and he hated it, not because it wasn't interesting, but because it was more work!

            Sounds like this one is your department. :-) Take it from me, he can run on natural smarts for a good number of years but sooner or later he'll need to learn to work hard, too. I nearly sank myself in college because I was used to coasting through high school, and never learned the value of visiting my teachers outside class, collaborating with other students, or studying together with my classmates.
        • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Interesting)

          by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:19AM (#23853525)
          My daughter is in a similar situation (she just finished 2nd grade), but we've worked with the teacher and bought a few extra grade level workbooks - 2nd and 3rd grade, covering math, writing, etc. Now when v2.0 finishes something early (which she often does), her teacher finds a few pages worth of stuff to do that is similar to what the class is working on in the book and has her do it. Occasionally instead of "more" work, v2.0 is allowed to do some extra "fun" reading as well.
    • Also in the news (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:35AM (#23852695)
      When sharing a cake, if you give more to the hungry students the portions for those who aren't hungry have to be smaller
      • by JustOK ( 667959 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:03AM (#23852875) Journal
        Bah, let them all eat cake.
    • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by konohitowa ( 220547 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:50AM (#23852777) Journal
      This was true when I was in school 20+ years ago. The reason this is deemed news is because it makes people with an axe to grind (i.e. people who are against NCLB) all warm and angry inside.
    • Re:Death Coil (Score:5, Interesting)

      by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:43AM (#23853827) Journal
      As an educator, I can tell you that it's not quite this easy, but it's close. The major issue is how NCLB actually measures "success". Generally, there are four categories for a student to score in:

      Below the Standard
      Approaching the Standard
      Meeting the Standard
      Exceeding the Standard

      The way the law is written, a certain number of students need to Meet or Exceed the "standard".

      If you're a school with a fair number of kids "exceeding", but a lot "approaching" the standard (which is nebulous and changes from year to year and state to state) it makes far more sense to stop trying to get the kids in the top category to improve, as they can't, nor does it gain you anything. The only metric which will show that you're improving as a school is if more of the kids below the standard move up towards it. If kids above it fall, it's not a big deal, as long as they don't fall out of the "meets the standard" category.

      If it was a school average, or a correlation coefficient or something like that, it would make sense to help the smart kids. But because it's a straight "% meeting or exceeding the standard", there is no benefit in pushing or even caring about the smart kids.

      There is only one judge in American education today, and it's whether or not your school can leap over the moving and wispy NCLB "meets the standard" bar. It's stupid, poorly designed, and utterly worthless as a metric to determine school success. But it's simple enough that stupid people can understand how their school is doing, and thus we will use it as an excuse to prop up a pretty shoddy education system. The bright kids will continue to get put down, and the dumb kids will be given enough support that they will all poke their noses above the standard, and everyone will be happy that their school "met the standard".

      And yes, I say this as a teacher.
  • by dintech ( 998802 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:25AM (#23852195)
    It's all about finance really. If you pay more teachers to teach smaller classes, most of these issues go away. The other thing is that children with learning disabilities get taught by themselves or in small groups because they are a special case. I would say the same should be available to gifted children.
    • by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:31AM (#23852235)
      No. It's not about finance.

      It's about finding ways to challenge the studnets.

      When I was in elementary and junior high, the school split us into classes based on academic results so far.

      It worked very well. There was far less variation between the bottom and top of the class and the teachers could do a much better job of teaching to the class.

      This is now deemed to be prejudicial and so the school no longer does this. The students are the losers across the board.
      • by ztransform ( 929641 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:37AM (#23852285)

        When I started high school I was the dux of the grade (split up across 5 classes). It was a boys school, and academic performance was looked down upon, so I was roughed up a fair bit, and was actually trying NOT to do well, but like it or not I still came dux.

        The next year the Year Advisor thought it might be fun to take the worst performing kid from the bottom class and put him in the top class.

        Guess who he targetted for a fight every day? That's right, the best performing kid in the top class - me.

        So one day he gives me a good going over on the station after school.

        Finally my parents woke up and sent me to a different school.

        Needless to say I don't believe in mixing the stupid and lazy with the bright and talented. Physical assault is just not on, even between kids.

        • by blackchiney ( 556583 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:29AM (#23852655)
          When I was in highschool I was in the top percentile of the school. The some of the smartest kids were just as bad as the dumbest kids. Instead of resorting to physical violence they went on verbal diatribes and basically were just being douches. My school was an inner city school with a nationally recognized magnet program (to boost the grades). I grew up with these guys and they weren't necessarily bullies but they could smell fresh blood in the water. If you were meek you were an easy target. A lot of them have been told they were dumb or remedial their entire life and some douchebag that likes to remind them by insulting their intelligence only drives the knife deeper. My friends came from all walks of life and I respected their opinions and helped them when I could (homework, food, money). Because of the company I kept no one tried to fight me because I was smart and had good grades. I never resorted to calling anyone stupid. And you learn there is a lot of different smart. Some were great musicians and composers, rappers, poets, and negotiators. I've had to intervene on a few occasions where a friend in the smart class just didn't have the "street smarts" to avoid a bad situation. I do believe the No Child Left Behind Act is doing a great disservice to everyone. It strips the schools of their ability to educate and reduces them to diploma mills. I was their when the last woodshop class came to an end. There were no plans made to replace it with any options. Just get the kids to take and pass the test.
        • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @10:03AM (#23855599)
          You're telling us that you were the smartest kid in school, but that you weren't smart enough to stop the dumbest kid from kicking your ass on a daily basis.

          I would measure intelligence as an ability to manipulate and modify ones environment to suit one's needs. Not being able to avoid getting your ass beat doesn't sound very smart to me.

      • by janeeja ( 1238160 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:02AM (#23852455)
        If you want the epitome of this 'one-size-fits-all' approach and witness its results upclose then please come to europe.

        This fear of a middle-ages class-based school system that is encoded in every administrators head, has forged a bond inbetween civil servant and teacher so strong that they cannot be distinguished from another.

        In fact this bond is so strong now that even the slightest form of desire for exellence is not just seen as an attack on the schoolsystem itself but also on the very fundaments of the society it's supposed to serve.

        One giant self fulfilling prophecy if you ask me.
        • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:09AM (#23853393) Homepage Journal
          In the Netherlands (which is in Europe), it's not so bad.

          Note: various things I've written here don't translate well. I don't use the words for various school types the same way as others, so some names will look funny to your eyes.

          There are often several primary schools to choose from. They differ in religious affiliation (the common choices are catholic, protestant, and secular), but also in method (besides "normal" schools, there are also free (as in freedom) schools and Montessori schools) and level of education. Still, they all fit in with the rest of the system, so, by the time you graduate from them, you have at least learned the same basics as others.

          High school is where it really gets interesting. There are various levels of high school. The system has undergone some reforms in recent times, but, last time I looked, there were VMBO, HAVO, and VWO, in order of increasing level. So, although it is not politically correct to say this, the most intelligent kids go to VWO, the least intelligent go to VMBO. I could go on and on, but the take home message is that there is a separation there: VMBO is more practically oriented; it teaches you to work, so to speak. VWO is more academically oriented, and is the only one that grants access to university. So the VWO kids don't get bogged down by the VMBO kids who don't understand algebra, and the VMBO kids don't have to learn all the academic stuff they aren't going to need for their jobs anyway.
        • by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:27AM (#23854719)
          I've lived and taught in Europe (Germany and England) and those school systems are much better than the US. What you described as being a problem in Europe, the fear of a class-based school system, is not a problem at all when compared to the US system. In the US, we are too afraid to say, "your child is done with school at age 16, because he/she needs to be a blue collar worker the rest of his/her life". They have no qualms doing that in Germany, and in England you have to pass the exams to continue past 16. No such thing here in touchy-feely US schools. EVERYONE should go to college, even if they don't have even 1% of the ability to do so.
      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:25AM (#23852635) Homepage

        No, really, it is largely about finance. You need a greater teacher/student ratio than most schools have.

        See, because even if you want to separate kids out based on their gifts, you need someone to evaluate which kids are gifted at what. You can give them tests, but that will only tell you which kids do better on tests.

        What it doesn't tell you is which kids are smart but unmotivated or bored, and therefore not bothering to try. It doesn't tell you which kids might have skills and assets that don't show up well on tests. It doesn't tell you which kids are just nervous and don't do well on tests. It doesn't tell you which kids are smart but have learning disabilities-- yes, 'learning disabled' has become code for stupid, but there are real learning disabilities.

        For anyone to really know all that about students, someone needs to know the students. You can't really get to know the students well enough when you have 45 minutes a day per class with a class of 40 kids. You'd improve our education system immensely if teachers were given a couple hours a day with a class of 15 kids, maybe with opportunities for private tutoring.

        Of course, you can't accomplish that without hiring loads of new teachers, and you can't hire loads of new teachers without spending a lot more money. Plus, in order to attract good teachers, you might have to pay them better. I think I'd probably like being a teacher, but not if it means I'll get paid 1/4 of what I get paid now.

      • by Teran9 ( 1163643 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:39AM (#23852717)
        Education isn't about challenging the students or paying teachers more. It is about imparting the ability to acquire and process information in order to understand and create knowledge.

        Few teachers are taught how to think much less how to teach that ability so all they can pass on is WHAT to think.

        When students do not have the thought processing skills to understand what they are being told they get frustrated or bored and the transfer of knowledge fails.
    • by Swizec ( 978239 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:36AM (#23852271) Homepage
      It's not so much about finance as it is about making a mass of drones who will never realise you're fucking them over and should revolt. The goal of any government is to have as little people who can actually think as possible, but not to have people so stupid they can't work.

      The solution is repressing everyone who is smart so that they either become frustrated and stop trying or revolt in an anti-social manner at an age too young and are deemed a criminal for life, and to help everyone too stupid to be useful become useful.

      All blatantly obvious of course ...
    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:34AM (#23853701) Homepage Journal
      Damn if I type this a thousand times.

      Compare any big city school system, take the total dollars spent and divide it by the number of students. For some reason many consider that unfair and want to reduce the dollars used. Do the same for some county schools. If its anything like where I live the city is nearly 3x the cost per student and the grades are worse.


      Admin and feel good people. In other words not hiring teachers but hiring more cronies of friends of politicians, family members, and feed good skill sets that have no bearing on real education. Some places have more grief counselors than nurses! Look at their class sizes compared to the county schools. If they are higher in the city and they are spending more money per student then start asking questions. Considering the disrepair some city schools are in its hard to believe it gets eaten up by building maintenance.

      Then we hit the fairness wall. Its not fair to give the better achieving students more, let alone let them be separate from those who cannot or WILL NOT learn. Throw in lots of zero tolerance rules about scissors, aspirin, and the like, and money is diverted to troubled schools who have more students than ever before. In some systems its not fair to celebrate the high achievers! It also isn't fair to test some students now because of race. Apparently race makes people incapable of being tested, I never knew math could form allegiances.

      NCLB isn't the problem. The problem is school systems who game the system. They divert money and attention from where it should be.
  • by Amiga Lover ( 708890 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:27AM (#23852207)
    Story of my school's life. I don't know what kicked it off, but in 1999 a group of parents got together to stop the awarding of best-in-school awards to the top students, because it had the effect (they claimed) of causing all the other students to feel they weren't as good at school. The idea being that three students would end up awarded for excelling, and seventy others in the same year would be indirectly labeled as inferior.

    Within two years we had academic success awards removed, and all kinds of other awards, including ones for one total misfit who'd been caught multiple times shitting on the bleachers. He got an award for exemplary social behaviour or some such, because he went a couple months without taking a crap on school property.

    Now the smart kids go without awards, but the dumb shits get an award for not smearing their own feces all over the place. Mediocrity ftw.
    • by Swizec ( 978239 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:40AM (#23852303) Homepage
      Never understood the issue with making people not feel inferior when it's so very fucking obvious that some people are simply superior to other people. It's just the way it is and always have been. Why are we trying to make everyone feel so bloody equal these days anyway?

      I mean, if you're stupid or fat doesn't matter, you're still a good chap and there's nothing wrong with you. But if you're rich, smart or successful then you're a fucking pig for making everyone else feel inferior ... what the hell!?
      • by Tranzistors ( 1180307 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:50AM (#23853193)

        But if you're rich, smart or successful then you're a fucking pig for making everyone else feel inferior ... what the hell!?

        Problem with awards is that they promote certain qualities. Being smart suddenly becomes more important than being, for instance, helpful. Thus not-so-bright kids are demoralized. So, are these awards necessary?

        Another problem is that reward becomes the motivation - ideally everyone wants to get the reward, but only the top few get it. So, if I am realistic and see, that I will only get near the top if I learn 16 hours a day, I fall in despair and see no motivation to be even good, because, it is "gold or bust" situation. Imagine that in your workplace only top 10 workers would get all the salaries and only way to get anything would be becoming one of them. Would you accept the system?

    • by Peter Cooper ( 660482 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:45AM (#23852337) Homepage Journal
      Interestingly, these sort of braindead policies never seem to apply to sports in schools. The focus is definitely on pushing and supporting the most athletic and physically skilled students, while those who are not good at sports are left to flail around and just do time. This makes a lot of sense, since not everyone /needs/ to be a hot football or tennis player.. but for some reason society feels that "everyone" has to be of average intelligence, which is just wrong (and totally impossible statistically).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It's just the same with the poor ...

        You know who exactly are poor, right ? It's the 10% lowest earners.

        And in a total surprise, everybody is totally shocked and utterly amazed ... ~10% of people are poor.

        Now think : if everybody made 10x the wage of donald trump, had a planet to him/herself and an army of robot servants to comply with his/her every whim, would obviously still be 10% "poor" people.

        Socialists started doing this since even the poorest people alive (in America) in 2007 have better lives, more m
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:04AM (#23852465)
      And yet some people claim school doesn't prepare you for life. Didn't that teach you that it's not good, hard work and excellence that gets rewarded but rather being obnoxious and shitting on everyone's work?

      Isn't that a good prep for the average office? Tell me, who gets promoted: The quiet, hard working guy who gets his job done on time and is generally really good at what he does, or the complaining loudmouth that nobody likes but at the same time nobody wants to get in his way?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:28AM (#23852215)
    No Child Left Behind is equivalent to No Child Gets Ahead.

    This has always been blatantly obvious.
    • by Incoherent07 ( 695470 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:37AM (#23852279)
      This isn't a new problem. (I went to school in Texas, which has had standardized testing since long before Bush took office as either governor or president.) NCLB just made it worse.

      I agree, however, that it is blatantly obvious that a system where your "success" as a school is determined by the percentage of students who pass leads itself to focusing disproportionate amounts of resources on the students who are most likely to fail.
    • by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:41AM (#23852315)
      How so? I read only the executive summaries, but they seem to say that children with low grade made bigger gain than children with top grades.

      It seems normal that starting from a low grade it is easy to move up; and that starting from already high grade takes a lot of effort to move even higher.

      Never does the executive summary say top graders performed worse.
    • by Slashidiot ( 1179447 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:01AM (#23852433) Journal
      I think every education policy needs to be aware of this: Gaussian Function. No matter how you do it, ALWAYS, there will be some brilliant children, some dumb children, and lots of mediocre children. And parents should be aware of this, children are just like any other group. A few winners, and a whole lot of losers, to quote George Carlin.

      Just accept that not every child will be the next Nobel prize, and accept that maybe your child is one of the dumb ones, and will have to do simple manual work all his life.

      If we leave some children behind, we can run much faster. Sad, but that's life.
      • by Tranzistors ( 1180307 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:15AM (#23853461)
        Think bit harder next time.
        1. Gaussian Function is no god sent writing on the wall. If you only educate the very smart ones, you get two peaks - the very good, and very poor results (I've seen it in action).
        2. > If we leave some children behind, we can run much faster.
        And of course the ones behind will never become politicians, never be promoted to management, never let their computers become part of botnet etc.
        3. Government guarantees education. Just because some people don't have the abilities to adapt to the teaching methods doesn't mean state can (should) just dich them.
        4. What is it with this winners/losers mentality. I certainly didn't go to school to "compete for the prize", and if it comes with mockery of being called a loser, I despise it even more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by altoz ( 653655 )
      So which is better? Some children getting left behind and some children getting ahead or no child getting left behind and no child getting ahead? Sadly, it seems like a zero-sum game.
      • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:24AM (#23852997) Journal
        I'd say that the payoff from helping a smart child to become a brilliant one is going to be much higher than making a dumb (that feels like a very unscientific term to use, but 'less intelligent' just sounds like politically correct crap, so feel free to correct me) child become a mediocre one.

        That said, it is only a zero-sum game if you keep all the existing factors (primarily funding) the same. More teachers and more resources allow the classes to be split according to ability - everyone gets the help they need at their own level, more or less. One teacher stops the bottom end getting left behind, one teaches the average group, one challenges the top end.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:29AM (#23852223)
    I think it is more important to make sure the whole population is well educated and informed than distilling every year's Nobel prize winners while leaving the masses in ignorance. The "success" of the current president is a terrible reminder of that lesson.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:48AM (#23852353)
      While generally a good idea, it is basically a tool to keep the poor poor. Why? Allow me to elaborate.

      What schools do participate in something like NCLB? Public schools. Why? Because they get no money if they don't. Why can private schools simply ignore it and continue a policy of pushing gifted pupils? Because they don't care about pennies from the state, they care about big bucks from mom and dad.

      So what happens to someone who is bright but poor? He's in a NCLB school, being bored and finishing with a degree that ain't worth jack because the dunce next to him has the same degree. Sure, the dunce had to work hard for it while the bright child spent most of his time slacking, the net result is the same: A worthless degree.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Of course, I mean only an idiot would think it makes sense to only help the idiots. Are these the same people trying to figure out why we have a shortage of engineers and innovation nowadays?
  • What a surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:29AM (#23852225)
    As a teacher in a results factory, can I just say: No Shit!

    I work in the UK education system, which is governed by targets and league tables.

    The focus from management is on the "borderline" kids, those who might just fail (below a C). There are lists put out, constant checks on their progress and their photos on a wall in the staff room.

    Our Gifted and Talented program consists of going to the local university to "raise aspirations" once a year.

    This is what happens when you govern by setting targets without any thought over the actual outcome. Train your teachers then trust them to do the job that they love.
  • by Frekko ( 749706 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:34AM (#23852251)
    In norway we've practiced "no child left behind" in the lower grade schools for the last 20 years (up til high school). I've never read any official studies about it but I can confirm that teachers are indeed spending a lot of their time getting the "slower" students through the curriculum.
    It's interesting to read that the lack of attention indeed slows down the high achievers as well. I would be interesting to know how much attention they would require to achieve what they are good for. Optimally you leave no one behind and you make your bright minds excel!
    • by Psiren ( 6145 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:03AM (#23852459)
      Surely the parents should play a part here too? I wasn't exactly a genius at school, although probably above average. But my parents did their best to support my interests, ensuring that I had ample opportunity to apply myself. I'm not talking about financially here, although having money helps. I'm talking about spending time with your kids, helping them to help themselves. If I had a "high achieving" child, I certainly wouldn't expect the school to take on full responsibility for their education. That's just lazy parenting.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:36AM (#23852275)
    Siphoning away resources for "no shit sherlock" studies leaves little money for studies that would have provided some insight or solved some dispute.
    • by SpeedyDX ( 1014595 ) <speedyphoenix@gmai l . c om> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:22AM (#23852593)
      I realize this was meant to be a semi-serious funny comment, but I disagree with it. "No shit" beliefs change throughout time, and I don't think we are fit to judge what should and should not be studied. By condemning these types of studies, you are advocating a form of restriction in the freedom of academic scholars to pursue their academic interests. This is never a good thing.

      Further, this isn't really a "no shit" issue. The theory behind helping struggling students is that struggling students need help, while those who excel can manage to do well by themselves. In fact, many people in /. post that when they were themselves in high school, they had levels of knowledge above and beyond their high school teachers. What significant, tangible benefits could these excelling students have in their high school teachers giving them more attention? These excelling students have already proven themselves to have a willingness and affinity to study subjects beyond course material on their own.

      So while I realize that your comment was supposed to illicit some humour out of the submission, I don't agree with the particular stance conveyed. Academic freedom is highly treasured and should not be curbed in the name of "usefulness" by some arbitrary measure. This study did provide some insight - that excelling students do need encouragement and that the current strategy is not working. While this concept may have seemed "obvious" to some, that opinion is meaningless without some evidence to back up that stance. This study provides that evidence.
  • In other news.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <<moc.loa> <ta> <hciretg>> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:42AM (#23852317) Journal
    Socialistic policies lead to uniform poverty. Story at 11.

    I wonder if China and India similarly punish people for wanting to get ahead. Last I checked, our finest graduate programs are admitting higher and higher percentages of foreign high achievers due to a frightening lack of domestic ones. When are schools are more concerned with teaching junk science (global warming, polar bears, spotted owls), junk politics (socialism, marxism), and how to be spineless cowards, than they are with teaching math, science, history, and other factual subjects, it's not a surprise that we're falling farther and farther behind on the global scale.
  • by abbamouse ( 469716 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:45AM (#23852339) Homepage
    I know no one actually RTFA, but it actually says that scores have gone up for all levels of students. Scores have gone up HIGHER for lower students, but they've still gone up for higher students as well. It's just that raising the very top is much harder than raising the bottom, so there's been more progress on the latter. There is NOTHING in the article that says top students are WORSE off now than before NCLB (as asinine as the law is in other ways).
  • antecdote alert! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stormguard2099 ( 1177733 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:47AM (#23852351)
    Most highschools have AP classes for their brighter kids to help them get a leg up in university and hopefully get a few credits. As shitty as my school was with most things they did do one brilliant move that helped make up for a lot.

    Dual enrollment. My highschool allowed us to take classes at the local community college that would count for highschool while simultaneously they would count as college classes. Since we had such a small school we actually managed to get the professors to come out to our school and teach a few of the classes so we wouldn't have to rearrange our class schedule or even drive over to the community college.

    This obviously is only a feasible for junior/senior years but it's programs like this that I think can really help to allow the high achievers to challenge themselves and prepare for university in a meaningful way.
  • by theheadlessrabbit ( 1022587 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @05:49AM (#23852361) Homepage Journal
    this is why, as a teacher, I only focus on the top students in the class.

    I'm sorry, but if you aren't going to try your best, then I would be a fool to waste my time trying to reach you. bugger off. Go and fail in life.

    I'm a teacher, I'm in charge of teaching. The 'learning' part is your job.

    If you are making an effort, I will do everything I can to help and support you. But you still suck after getting extra help, I'm not going to sugar coat things or give you an 'A for effort'. Some kids are just dim. parents need to learn to deal with it.

    I'm sorry for sounding so grumpy and uncaring in this post. It's been a long 2 weeks of solid speaking/listening tests, and I just failed 75% of my 1154 students, because they can speak absolutely zero English, even after 7 years of Education.

    Then I was told to make my questions easier, because if a student gets less than 40 points, they have to repeat the year, and the school administration doesn't want to deal with that, so we prevent them from failing by lowering standards.

    Then I learned that my "zero" I was giving my students is actually being entered in the books as a 15 out of 20.

    that's right...if you absolutely nothing, if you are complete failure as a students, who has learned nothing after seven freaken years of school, you STILL get 75% on your test. pathetic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )
      You sound a bit like my French teacher. Are you by any chance female and your name starts with a K?

      75% failure sounds an aweful lot. I don't know how to say that... but 75% of your pupils being stupid sounds a bit less likely than them being unable to learn anything front you...
    • by uffe_nordholm ( 1187961 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:13AM (#23852521)
      I completely agree with this.

      I have worked as a teacher, and am currently studying to become a qualified teacher. My position is that as long as the pupil is trying in my subject, he/she will get his/her fair share of my time. But when the student shows no ambition at all (or simply too little) I will take that fair share of time and distribute it among those students who actually _want_ to succeed in my subject.

      This action is probably illegal, and most parents would object strongly if they realised what I consider is justified. But it boils down to a simple fact: you cannot teach someone who doesn't want to learn. If the student doesn't want to learn my subject, I am wasting my time on him/her, and could spend it better on those in the class who want to learn my subject.

      Doing this does not bother me at all, and I will do it whenever I feel a student does not merit my time.

      What does bother me though, is parents who don't care enough about their children. I have had pupils that I, as an unqualified teacher with practically zero knowledge of the mind and body, can tell have some sort of problem (like ADHD or similar issues). In most cases the parents have refused to have their children examined, in case they get 'stamped' as being a multiletter diagnosis. The effect of this is that I am left desperately trying to find a way of dealing with a pupil's (or several pupils') problems while having absolutely no guidance.
      • by vigmeister ( 1112659 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:27AM (#23852645)

        I have worked as a teacher, and am currently studying to become a qualified teacher. My position is that as long as the pupil is trying in my subject, he/she will get his/her fair share of my time. But when the student shows no ambition at all (or simply too little) I will take that fair share of time and distribute it among those students who actually _want_ to succeed in my subject.
        Ever tried to get people INTERESTED in succeeding in your subject?

        This action is probably illegal, and most parents would object strongly if they realised what I consider is justified. But it boils down to a simple fact: you cannot teach someone who doesn't want to learn. If the student doesn't want to learn my subject, I am wasting my time on him/her, and could spend it better on those in the class who want to learn my subject.
        Ever wondered why some people hate Chemistry while others hate Math and yet others hate CS? I think you have the answer. If I am not good at a certain subject and am disinterested in it and the teacher ignores me because of that, I will hate the subject.

        Doing this does not bother me at all, and I will do it whenever I feel a student does not merit my time.
        You don't decide what merits your time. The people who pay you do. As wonderful as it sounds, you aren't the architects of children's minds or anything fancy like that which puts you in a position to decide who is worthy of your time. You have a job where you get paid to teach people what you know. For all you cool talk about 'YOUR' time and how you decide to spend 'YOUR' time, screw you! The taxpayers or the parents are paying for your time and they decide how YOU spend that time.

        This might be offensive, but let me assure you that if they paid teachers decent wages, with this attitude, you or the OP would definitely not have jobs as teachers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gunnarstahl ( 95240 )
      What an arrogant view! And you are what, a teacher? Ymbkm!

      This "if you aren't going to try your best" shit is something you could stuff to adults, not to children. Try to remember how you have been in school.

      There is a reason why kids aren't allowed to drink / drive / vote and stuff. They are not _reasonable_.

      And if you just focus on the brilliant ones, then maybe, just maybe you are not really a teacher.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:04AM (#23852471)
    I teach English in Japan and this is a problem that I see every day. I have students in their third year of studying English who cannot speak or write a basic a basic declarative sentence such as "I am a student" as well as students in their first year who study outside of school and have much higher ability than that.

    The lessons are purposely designed to be slow, supposedly so that students are able to follow along without difficulty, but what this really turns out to be is the good students being bored out of their minds and, thus, unable to focus and having their English studies fall behind, and the poor students still not doing a thing to improve themselves. And by their third year, why should they? It is virtually impossible for them to catch up in school and so unless they go through a lot of effort outside of school, which is made quite difficult by their 7-6, and sometimes weekends, schedules.

    An obvious solution is to separate the students into higher ability students, in which I can teach them more difficult material, and lower ability students, to whom I could review the differences between the words "I", "me", and "my". But this goes totally against the Japanese "everyone must be carbon copies" principle and so will never, ever be implemented. (Maybe not never, but it would literally take an educational revolution.)

    As I see it, not only do the good students suffer, but the poor students do not gain anything because even if I slow down to a turtle's pace, they still cannot catch up because I'm halfway through the marathon and they're passing the 1st mile marker, so to speak.
  • Priorities (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dlevitan ( 132062 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:07AM (#23852489)
    The worst thing about not challenging the top end of the bell curve is that those people don't get pushed enough to get good study habits and thus be able to do well in college. I barely studied for anything in high school (even taking only AP classes my senior year) and had a hard time when I did need to study while in college. The only reason I did well in high school is because I could mostly do it without studying and because I could avoid a lot of the homework and still do well (>A average). At least I got some work ethic having to deal with 5 AP exams in one year. I'm scared to think how I would have turned out if my school did not offer that many AP classes.

    The major question that the US needs to answer is do we a) prioritize the high end of the bell curve to push the really smart kids or b) prioritize the low end of the bell curve to at least establish a minimum education standard. In an ideal world, the parents should be pushing their kids to at least be at the minimum and schools would not be afraid of saying "You fail". Unfortunately, in the US this is not the case and thus the question remains.

    If we do want to prioritize the high end, that means really pushing kids and funneling money into college level course availability (and not community college but actual hard classes). This would, in an ideal world, make sense because the parents should be able to help get their kids to a minimum level but they shouldn't be expected to know enough about advanced topics. But, this would require hiring many teachers who are much smarter or at least more advanced than the teachers today which means that any attempt to push the boundaries will never work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was in a similar situation (didn't have to study to do well in high school) except we didn't have an AP program. I grew up in a red-neck town not unlike South Park where the school rewarded our losing athletic teams and wouldn't give a dime to our prize-winning band. We (the band) had to raise our own money (for instruments, etc.) and get community members to teach pro bono jazz classes before school (which started at 7AM for some reason). The result was that I simply stopped going to most of my classes.

  • by tucuxi ( 1146347 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:22AM (#23852601)

    As many others have pointed out, this was very much to be expected. It requires exceptionally skilled teachers to be able to motivate a whole spectrum of students at the same time.

    In a traditional classroom, communication has a star-shaped topology with the teacher in the center. The teacher is a very scarce resource, and although broadcasting is available, the broadcast can be tuned to either low-bandwidth or high-bandwidth students. If only low-bandwidth broadcasts are used, those which could go faster will get bored real quick.

    There are all sorts of proposals out there to break the star-shaped topology and get students to collaborate and motivate each other; however, the teacher will still be a scarce resource, because all proposals require a level of coordination which will itself require time&effort.

    Proposed solutions (all of them well-known):

    • More teachers = more time-per-student
    • Better teachers = greater student motivation, broader spectrum
    • External support (from parents, society to teacher's efforts) = motivated students and teachers
    News at eleven...
  • by Rurik ( 113882 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:42AM (#23852733)
    I'll put it out there, I'm an advanced learner, and here's what I've seen through my old learning "career". It was an excellent program at first, but over the years things really dropped off.

    In the second grade, while attending John J Blair Elementary in Wilmington, NC, I was tested in the top percentile of the school. This allowed me to go every Tuesday on a bus to a special learning center downtown where we were taught logic puzzles (you find a dead body hanging from ceiling, pool of water under him, how did he die?) how to work with C64 computers and how to perform basic coding. That was 1987, and I was 8.

    Then, a school restructuring took place in the districts. I was moved to Blunt Elementary, half an hour farther away. This was a very poor school, but due to the increase of advanced students coming in, they hired an A.G. (Academically Gifted) teacher. We met twice a week for a few hours to work on basic Latin, mind puzzles, logic, etc. I was in that program from 3rd to 5th grade.

    I then moved to Leland Middle School, in Leland, NC. Things were dropped another notch. There was a similar A.G. structure there, but just for math and English. For Math, we basically met privately with the Math teacher of the next grade up and learned their topics. For English, we had a dedicated instructor that taught us in a outside structure next to the special-needs room. There we learned writing skills, more advanced Latin (and how to use it to break apart words and sentences). Budget cuts came along, so much so that the school implemented half days every other week. Instead of having a dedicated Math and English teacher, we simply attended the classes of the next grade up with those students. In 8th grade more budget cuts came. With no where to send us, they had us just sit through normal Math and English courses with the rest of our grade... relearning information we already knew. The administration was defensive and noted that it would help us build our skills by helping the others in the course - pure BS. We sat, bored, for the whole year.

    Family issues arose, and I attended high school in Woodstown, NJ. There was no program in place here; it was a farming community. They had their 4-H, and that was it. There was no support for those who broke apart from the norm. As such, as a teenager, I rebelled and made life Hell for those around me. I was stuck, bored, relearning material I was taught years earlier. After three years of fighting, my parents and I convinced the administration to let me attend college courses at night. From what I hear, it's now an official part of their system for the advanced students.

    Over the years I've seen how budget cuts and overall lack of caring has changed curriculum and delivery styles through the school systems. At the end, as the "smart" students, the administration felt that we were best left to our devices while they focused on getting everyone else up to par. Even worse was when they forced us to help them teach the other students, sometimes forcing us into mentorship programs, and buddy systems where we would have to call our buddies each night to ensure they did their homework correctly.

    Luckily, I grew up to be a teacher... but not for schools. I develop and teach computer forensic techniques. But, I remembered my lessons from growing up. Every exercise I teach is built with multiple difficulty structures, and there are layers of hidden material that I push the advanced students to find. Having one single system to train all students will not work, as the teachers will just focus their attention on the students falling behind. There is a whole generation of very smart and advanced children, many of whom do not have the support they need at home (I was lucky to have a father that bought me QuickC for my 11th birthday). These kids will grow up bored and frustrated. They will lash out and adults will assume it just to be because of angst or the need for Ritalin, when the kid just wants to learn.
  • by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @06:53AM (#23852811)
    ... the intelligent kids have fewer and fewer excuses with places like MIT offering their challenging courses for FREE - []

    I'm getting tired of the "all the intelligent people are victims", what really needs to be done is to have good guidance counsellors and to know about these internet resources, many intelligent kids can get the help they need from professors on the net and whatnot now. They have all the ability, what they need most is to have a map to be pointed in the right direction.
  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:04AM (#23852881) Journal
    Um,no. This is a result of "mainstreaming" and social promotion, both of which have existed long before NCLB.

    I saw the same thing back in school and I graduated in 1986.

    This is just more Busch bashing.
  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:06AM (#23852891) Homepage
    I just started teaching this year. I'm not young either. I gave up my programming job to teach English to Japanese students.

    Here on /. we love to complain about bad programmers who can hide in a large organization, spewing out horrible code while management gives them raises. But think about teaching for a bit. Here you have a profession where the success of the students (and hence the teacher) can literally be manipulated by the teacher. You can intentionally give them questions they can't answer (because you never taught them) or you can give them all the answers to the test the day before.

    So to combat this you get standardized testing. If too many people fail the standard tests, then the teacher is bad. But what does that do? It means that the smart teacher will teach only what's on the test. And they will ensure that each student can score well on the test, ability be damned. It's all about the test.

    This creates a curriculum which is meaningless. Just a bunch of hoops to jump through in order for the teacher to get their bonus (they get bonuses here in Japan... Does that happen other places?) Got a bright student that actually wants to learn something relevant? -- "Shut up kid. Talking to you costs me my bonus. You can already pass the test." Got a student struggling that needs to understand? -- "Just frickin' memorize this damn thing, OK? I don't care that you can't use it in real life. You only need it for the exam. Got it?"

    The gaming potential here is enormous. I'm actually surprised that my school doesn't operate like that. Although we are one of the lowest ranked schools in the prefecture. So perhaps lack of need to achieve test results makes life better here. Most of the teachers are amazing, actually.

    But it really begs the question. How the hell do you measure the success of teachers? They hold all the cards and there's no obvious objective measure that I can see....
  • by Panaqqa ( 927615 ) * on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:39AM (#23853105) Homepage
    At my age (I'm 44), I am one of the few people who experienced the public education system in Canada both before and after this type of policy (NCLB) took effect. I was always a high achiever, and despite getting a late start in kindergarten (I was almost 6), I quickly learned the work and accelerated several grades. I was still 6 in grade 3.

    Sometime during grade 4, I noticed something going on with the curriculum. Rather than the steadily more challenging books I was expecting, reading began to be taught using a series of cards with the simplest of prose on them. Suddenly, the reading skills being taught to grade 4 students dropped to the "run Spot run" level. And stayed there.

    By the time the new curriculum had become entrenched, I was in grade 6. My teacher in that grade was obligated to spend most of his time teaching the troublemakers in the class and really had very little time left over for anyone else, especially high achievers. Since this time, it has been declared that mentally retarded (sorry, NOT developmentally delayed, NOT differently intelligent, NOT developmentally challenged, mentally retarded) must be placed in regular classrooms also, along with autistic children and almost any other child not capable of learning at a normal pace. I can only imagine what effect this has had on actual learning in school.

    I was very fortunate in that my parents, firmly in the middle class, were able to find a school with excellent academics that catered exclusively to gifted students and scrape together the tuition for it. Suddenly I was learning Latin, and Shakespeare, and actual geography and history. And this school was not afraid to kick me out for lack of academic performance.

    It seems obvious to me that with a policy such as NCLB, schools will focus on getting the maximum number of students to a certain level of mediocrity. Under such a program, this is the maximum result (funding wise) for the minimum effort. And as this generation of children moves up in age, results of this policy will be easy to see. We can see them now in fact. Look at the comments on social networking sites "like i dint no u r gonna b workig their omg that is sooooooo cool".

    Just think: this is the next generation, the one that is going to have to meet the competitive challenge from India, China and others in the global battle for power and influence.

    Looks like we've had our day in the sun.
  • by OSXCPA ( 805476 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @07:43AM (#23853123) Journal
    PARENTING. Your kid may be a rock or a rocket scientist, but without good parenting, they will never reach their full potential, figure out what their particular gifts are, or 'learn how to learn'. Whatever ones' opinion of No Child Left Behind and other well-intended public policies, no policy has anything close to the impact of good parenting and good teaching. The study and its implications are not relevant to the individual family - good parenting is.
  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:29AM (#23853639)
    Back when I was at primary school (in the mid 70s) in the UK, this kind of stuff was rampant.
    A quick note to all of you guys that say "Well, the bright guys will just teach themselves".. That doesn't work, for exactly the same reason you say the less academically apt (not necessarily less skilled; just their skills aren't academic. Live with that, as I'm less skilled in the non-academic skills than countless others, and I value them as much as they value me). Kids, being kids, haven't seen enough of the world to know what's on offer.

    On the reading side, I lucked out in that my folks taught me (read LOTR by the time I was 5 1/2). All the basic Math I picked up on no problems. Then, for the next 4 years in that place, I had to keep reading the 'Peter and Jane' books in big letters. I wasn't allowed to use the time to get my own reading material in at my level. I had to sit in class with this one children's book with a reading age at least 10 years below my abilities, and dutifully trot up to the teacher to demonstrate that I could read this little book, despite many complaints from me (and my folks) that I should be allowed to read my own stuff, or at least have my own book in class. Denied.

    Not quite so lucky on the Math.. My father worked late (ran his own business, so couldn't spend loads of time with me), and my mum just wasn't a math person. I learned what I could from what I was introduced to, but had problems working out what the progression was from there. And speed went at the pace of the slowest (no kid left behind). Result of that (which went on right though the years 'till age 11) was that I got private tuition to get me through all the things my school hadn't taught that were subjects on entrance exams for the good schools. I picked it up no problem, but NOBODY had ever previously told me what to look for next. I'd picked up math books myself, but, lacking the theory that was assumed, it was hard to find a book at the right level for me to learn properly.
    Even the "Academically Inclined" don't teach themselves. They need to be shown, and guided. Encouraged, not held back.

    From where I am now. I'm successful, and have done pretty well for myself. However, I know enough to know I'd have been able to better myself even more, if I'd been able to get more of the basics done at an earlier age, giving me a more thorough grounding to spend my later time concentrating on the more advanced topics.
    And simply saying "I could have taught myself".. Well, in a lot of things, I did.. But it cost time to work out how to do it, where to find the information (pre internet, and honestly, you don't always get the right answer from google), and sometimes, you can just miss whole topics (or misunderstand something that a teacher with the right knowledge could put right in minutes).
    It's not a disaster, but it's an irritation, to know I could have been better with just a little bit of time and encouragement (or even just the words "You may want to try this book in your own time", rather than the "This is what we teach, and we don't move on until the class is ready").

    One size does NOT fit all. Tests are NOT the answer to everything. You CANNOT have everyone with the same academic education. People are different. Education should be about finding someone's talents, and nurturing those talents to the best of the kid's abilities.. For all that I'm pretty good academically (though yes, I do know quite a few that blow me away in that arena), without people doing the non-academic stuff really well, I'd be royally screwed in any job I did. We need all kinds of talents, and they all need to be trained and worked on.
    Otherwise, China and places like that, where they do compete to try and keep up in every area (so the brightest from each set of talents gravitate upwards faster) will walk all over us in technology and science in the very near future. Have a good look at history, and you'll see the results of that course writ large.

Work is the crab grass in the lawn of life. -- Schulz