Candiates Stance



What is it all about?

The proposal is in line with the Innovation Agenda 

Last Updated: Oct. 28, 2013, 11:16 a.m.

In anticipation of a recommendation due next week on Academic Challenge, there have been some thoughtful conversations around the city on how best to meet the needs of all students. The ISP review pointed to a serious issue -- the district has not provided excellent instruction in every classroom. Rather than assume getting rid of the ISP would fix this problem, there are many pushing for us to address the root problem, and not rely on mixing students around instead. As one ISP student said "if the non-ISP classes aren't working for students, why are they blaming us? If we were at other schools, they would still have to teach those students. Why are they blaming us?" Several parents worked on the proposal to replace the ISP, based on the suggestions from the ISP review. The proposal is for an honors program at the two new upper schools which already have an ISP -- replacing the ISP with an open honors program. The other two campuses, which have expressed an interest in not having honors, would rely on differentiated instruction. The proposal is in line with the Innovation Agenda's goals. It sends a message to the community that the district will rely on evaluation and evidence in selecting programs for instruction. The most frequent reply to anyone proposing that differences in the new schools is that somehow it is inequitable. That is quite puzzling to me. I voted for the IA. The IA was constantly defined as bringing "consistency" not "cookie cutters" and "standards, not standardization". People confuse equity with the notion that equity means every students gets exactly the same. Not an educationally sound approach. We give students different instruction all the time -- some students learn to read in Kindergarten, others in first grade, others in second grade. Giving those three example of student exactly the same program would be a disservice to each. ANother way to look at it: we can offer Chinese at one school and French at another, and still have equitable schools, since it's the same educational goal: second language instruction. Similarly, there is no definitive answer on whether having honors classes or not would produce the highest achievement. It might be that both produce the same results. Or one is better than the other. If one is better than the other, we need to know that, so all campuses can use the better model. But if we start with only one model, we will never know if the other one is best. There is a split among educators about which produces the best result. By following the suggestions in the NBA report, AND the people who have urged us to not forget that other non-ISP classes have engaged learning going on, we would get real data. The proposal is to try both models and measure the results. For those who want to have the best system we can, it seems that this approach is what is needed: something different from the past but in line with the past. After all, we thought the middle grade structure, which has not had honors classes ever, was not working. Other districts have found middle school honors classes help raise achievement. The only model in the past was undifferentiated instruction. Even with a math curriculum that was standardized across the district, there has been uneven results in middle grades. It might be because we haven't tried the honors approach.

Where am I relevant?

City State ZipCode Country
Cambridge MA US

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