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.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Bubble Kids and Kids left behind

This evening I want to tell you a secret. Have any of you heard about "bubble kids"? This is a term your school district will not explain in its newsletter. The reason they won't post it is that "bubble kids" get all the help in the testing furor.

Bubble kids are those who fail by only one or two points - or bubbles. The kids bubble in their answers on test forms. So a bubble kid is one who missed the passing score by only one or two bubbles.

I sat in several meetings with the principal, the dean of instruction, and the department heads when we were told to identify the bubble kids in our subjects. These kids are important to the school because they can make the school look better in the test scores. They are so close, the reasoning goes, that they can benefit from tutoring and therefore help the scores.

So the bubble kids are identified, divided into groups, and tutored relentlessly. The kids who missed by 5 or 6 points, maybe 10 points; what happens to them. It's simple. They cant raise their scores enough to help the schools rating, so they are ignored. Why would you waste your time with them the school thinks, they can't help us. They don't get intense help with their work. After all, don't you know, they won't ever pass anyway. Why waste valuable tutoring time on them? Of course, what a brilliant idea - work with the kids who can make you look good and throw the others to the sharks. I truely wish I knew which of our administrative geniuses brought that obscene idea into the district. Thats Sheldon Independent School District, always go for the easy stupid solution instead of the complex one that would require planning, actual thought, listening to teachers, or giving a care.

You may ask what about the kids who can go on. They can't help much more either. After all they have already passed the test.

But, ohhhhh those precious bubble kids. If we could just get those kids to get two more questions right then we might be recognized. Can you imagine how wonderful that would be.

The concept of the bubble kid was created to help school ratings, not to help all the kids who need help. What morally reprehensible thing to do.

My school district - The Sheldon Independent School District did it. I witnessed it because I was in the meetings. We had to identify the "bubble kids" for each subject and design tutorials for them. The lower kids could just go jump because they couldn't help the district or the building. This was the same brilliant district that had the ever popular group strip searches.

I doubt if Sheldon will ever figure out how to be successful. That would require teaching every child to success. That would require slightly more intelligence than identifying the kids who missed passing the test by one or two points. Working with individual kids until they are successful escapes the school board and administration. No, what we were supposed to do was to identify and concentrate only on the kids who could help the district raise itself above it's already appalling status.

Parents in Sheldon and all districts across the state. Be in the power group. Find our if you too have a "bubble child". If your child is not a bubble child call your remarkable districts to find out how your child can also be a bubble child.

If it weren't so pathetic it would be funny.

John McGeough


Blogger EdWonk said...

Boy you really nailed that one. Later this evening, I'll link your post about "Bubble Kids" on my Extra Credit Assignment. My own school, one that I'll call "Howard Taft Junior High" concentrates nearly all its after school interventions on the bubble kids. (only we call 'em Near Passers) Keep-up the good work! :)

6:02 PM  
Blogger EdWonk said...

Here is the link to "Extra Credit Assignment"

11:37 PM  
Blogger Dan Edwards said...

Great Post. Your school district could be one of thousands in this country (like the one at which I teach) that are doing this with those "bubble kids", "near passers" et. al. As for those "Left behind" kids, I guess they will get to compete with the illegal immigrants for scraps of work (IF they will work at all), or end up in jail, probably for some drug related offense. OR, maybe our education president and his resident witch will provide a job for them as cannon fodder for his imperial adventures?

Keep up you Great Posts and Great Insights to "Real Life in the Amerikan Classroom" !

PS: With 31 years in teaching, are you counting the "days" or years until you can be freed of this career?

10:29 AM  

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