Is Your Child on the Right Track?
Schools look different then when your parents went to school, right? There’s no forced segregation. Many schools have Smart Boards and your child may attend a school where each student is given a tablet. With all of these nice advantages in 2014 how much does the achievement gap really matter? First, the gap is real, for example NAEP 2011 Condition of Education found that in 2009
- The average reading score of Black 4th-grade students was less than that of White 4th-grade students by 26 points and Hispanic student by 25
- White students at grade 12 scored 27 points in higher in reading than Black students and 22 points higher than Hispanic students.
What is tracking?Tracking is an educational path/course a student takes in school. Every school is different. But generally school tracks/paths are high (accelerated/honors- performing above grade level), medium (regular – performing on grade level) and low (below average or performing below grade level) – with some variation in between.
When does tracking begin?Tracking can start as early as kindergarten, but usually no later than fourth grade.
How are tracks determined?The path is usually carved out based on a students standardized test scores. I know that standardized tests have no real connection with identifying intelligence. Still, most school policies state that standardized tests take priority in determining track placement. Schools may vary in making you aware that this is taking place (if you know of a school that does please let me know).
What about A and A/B Honor Roll?That’s good too. Grades can give you a guideline as to if your child is or is not performing on grade level. Grades also give you an indication if your child will be promoted to the next grade or not. But the standardized test scores trump grades in track placement.
What words should I look for on the standardized test to make sure my child hasn't ‘mistakenly’ been left out of the high track classes?Check with your school to understand their given scale. Where I live the test scores use the word ‘Advanced’ in order for a child to qualify. Word to the wise: entry into an accelerated/honors track may also have other supplemental requirements, i.e. grades, behavior, fall and spring standardized test scores and teacher recommendations.
Why is this important?Your child can get to college without taking accelerated or honors level classes. But, such classes usually make for a competitive advantage on college application, preparation for college work and potentially college credit. For example:
High track in elementary school math = high track in middle school, taking Honors Algebra or Geometry in eighth grade = possibility of taking AP Calculus (high level math) in high school = COLLEGE CREDIT in high school = WIN!
What do you think? Is your child on the right track?