Is school too easy or too hard?

School is too easy?

I could not believe how many news outlets found this a compelling story. Did they not feel even the slightest sense of cognitive dissonance? How many “low test score” articles would it have taken for them to stop a minute and wonder if maybe the students aren’t the best judge?

Meanwhile, in the opinion column, Patrick Welsh has the real story, arguing that we are pushing students forward in math when they haven’t mastered the previous class. For example, my algebra II classes, in which 90% of the students got below basic or worse in Algebra I.

Welsh argues that more of these kids would be successful in math–and love it, too!–if we just moved slower. Well, maybe. Some kids have the ability to learn advanced math and just haven’t reached the cognitive development stage. But many kids may never have the cognitive ability to master advanced math.

Of course, we could just make kids take earlier math until they show mastery. But that would be “leaving kids behind” and the racial balance of the kids who were left back would be distressingly imbalanced.

Repeat after me: every educational policy that makes no sense has “disparate impact” pushing it along.

It’s not that only Hispanic and black kids have trouble in math; all math teachers have seen white and Asian kids who have no business taking algbra by junior year. It’s just that there are so much more of them.

We can blame both eduformers and progressives for this one. No one wants to acknowledge that ability matters.

Quick, someone, blame the teachers.

About educationrealist

One response to “Is school too easy or too hard?

  • KLO

    Even more basic than the concern for disparate impact, the force motivating the implementation of dysfunctional education policies is the widespread belief that education above everything else is what determines whether someone has a good life or not. If Johnny is the square peg in the round hole when it comes to algebra, parents, teachers and administrators are going to try their very hardest to fit the square peg into the round hole. Should they suspect that a reasonable fit will never be obtained, they will not stop trying, because, in the end, Johnny will end up to be a loser on welfare if he does not quickly master algebra.

    Think about schools where race is not an issue — mostly white schools in mostly white states. Are parents more relaxed when their kids are struggling in school? Not in my experience. The parents that care will raise holy hell out of the fear that their child is going to end up being a loser.

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