Location: Texas, United States

I am a teacher with 33 years experience in public education. The purpose of this web log is to critically examine the present state of education in our great country and, particularly, in Texas.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

No grades - I can get behind this - if

Carmine Park Elementary School may be the first school to truly experiment with the elimination of the traditional grade levels.

Carman Park Elementary School may soon be a grade-free school.

Students would learn based on ability level, regardless of age. If a fourth-grader is ready for algebra, he or she would be grouped with children of varying ages studying algebra.

I strongly support this approach if all the various levels are truly addressed. The ideal situation in education is an environment in which kids are actually allowed to progress at their own appropriate rate. The problem will develop if there are teachers in this program who are absolutely devoted to the kids who learn differently or at a slower rate. I share this view with Jenny D whose excellent post can be found here. She rightly worries about the kids who are struggling. Too often in the past, students who were difficult or who were perceived as having learning difficulties were shuffled off to less capable teachers with fewer resources.

The same thing has been true of students who were either able or just much more motivated. These students frequently found themselves meeting roadblock after roadblock.

However, this is an effort that I would encourage everyone to get behind. The problems will be great. The kids will have to be followed very closely. Those who can go fast may well go very fast. The teachers may find themselves jumping through hoops to keep enough in front of them. The kids who are behind will have to have enough really creative teaching techniques to assure that they learn to mastery.

I congratulate this school on getting out of the box in the truest sense. They deserve the support of the education community. Personal agendas need to be set aside with regard to this experiment. Good on them!


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