Grouping by ability in classrooms is back in fashion. Is this good for kids?

In today’s New York Times, Vivian Yee reports on the supposed reemergence of elementary school ability tracking, in which teachers split students into smaller groups of advanced, regular, or slow learners, in order to better target lessons to children’s individual needs, Salon.com reports. Grouping fell out of favor in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was stigmatized because of its relationship to high school-level “tracking,” the practice of assigning students at different academic levels to totally different classrooms or curricular programs, such as vocational or college-prep…

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Op-ed: New data shows school “reformers” are full of it

In the great American debate over education, the education and technology corporations, bankrolled politicians and activist-profiteers who collectively comprise the so-called “reform” movement base their arguments on one central premise: that America should expect public schools to produce world-class academic achievement regardless of the negative forces bearing down on a school’s particular students, says Salon. In recent days, though, the faults in that premise are being exposed by unavoidable reality…

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How Finland became an education leader

Harvard professor Tony Wagner explains how the nation achieved extraordinary successes by deemphasizing testing, Salon reports. How has one industrialized country created one of the world’s most successful education systems in a way that is completely hostile to testing? That’s the question asked–and answered–in a new documentary called “The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System.” Examining the nation with one of the most comparatively successful education systems on the planet, the film contradicts the test-obsessed, teacher-demonizing orthodoxy of education “reform” that now dominates America’s political debate…

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