Social Question

Unbroken's avatar

Are all public schools like this, is this progress?

Asked by Unbroken (10690points) January 31st, 2013

I had a conversation with my sister regarding her son and school.

Her son a fifth grader, all A student, he did get one B this year, is being pulled out of class for electronic tutoring because he didn’t pass the “Universal Comprehension Test(?)” This is the second time. The first time was math related and I didn’t get all the details on that incident. But apparently they pulled him out of English class to take an online tutorial.

This time he failed the Reading so many words per min out loud without a certain amount of mistakes and comprehending the content.

They informed my sister they would be pulling him out of math class to take another online tutorial. She is fighting it, and they have delayed making the determination until she has her appt with the superintendant.

She also informed me that without consent or notification they set up a google plus account for their students and when she found out about it and voiced her concern said it was an essential part of the curriculum.

That not sending notification was an oversight that they still have not corrected months down the road.

Another issue I was appalled at was the mandatory counseling class they take, once again this “class” was not on his class list they sent home and it was “unnecessary to inform the parent, because it is not something they can opt out of.”
She also told me as a fifth grader every single one of his academic classes is taught partially online.

I admit I am out of touch with public schools. Is this normal? Do parents think this beneficial to their children? What about non parents, or the students out there: is this a healthy approach to teaching?

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13 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

For an elementary school, it sounds like they don’t have any diplomacy. But it is hard for us to evaluate what your sister has told you because you aren’t able to tell us how the school communicates. This is a second hand observation.

On the one had the way you describe it all, they are being heavy handed. But it also sounds like they have identified problems that your nephew is having and are trying their best to remediate the issue.

Why is you sister fighting the extra help for her son?

The google plus thing sounds odd, but then again the schools set up certain ways for the school to communicate to students and parents.

Where is this all happening?

Seek's avatar

Google Terms of Service state that one must be 13 years of age or older to have a Google account in the United States.

I’d tell the school to take their curriculum and shove it, if they can’t so much as ask a by-your-leave before breaking the rules to expose my child to an unprotected social network.

Unbroken's avatar

The tutoring she is fighting for two reasons: because they are removing him from math class to tutor him online about his reading comprehension.

He reads well in his head. We are a family of readers and he devours books, maybe not as much as my sister and I but still present.

My nephew and I have a ritual of spelling contests and practicing words together. That is not the only component to reading but it is a part of it. He does get a word or two wrong however he also gets the “bonus” words correct. So he rarely has anything below an A as far as individual assignment and tests go as well as his overall grade.

She is willing to concede if they remove him from a nonacademic class instead. But realizes the program, a computer module which she took time off work to see and use first hand, will not actually address what is a presentation and comprehension issue.

Of course we will all help him practice in this area out of school.

The school is North Pole, Alaska.

@Seek_Kolinahr I would too, but from what I gather she has given up. Assignments and interactions with teachers are interlaced with the program she did request the user name and password.

Seek's avatar

I’m just saying, if the kid’s doing all of his learning in front of a computer instead of with a teacher, he might as well be home-schooled.

Unbroken's avatar

Yeah I was kind of thinking alone those lines. Both parents are work school hours so in this situation it is impractical.

I was just wondering if this method of teaching was common.

There are studies that results advocate limiting time in front of the computer because various parts of the brain are being underutilized.

wildpotato's avatar

They might possibly be trying to use the flipped learning model for him, or thinking along those lines.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I’m still surprised that our public schools offer a foreign language immersion program where elememtary school students spend half the day speaking in another language. I think being bilingual is extremely useful, but learning math in Spanish instead of English makes no sense to me. It seems like the kids fall behind because they’re more focused on the language than the subject they’re learning.

Unbroken's avatar

@wildpotato I had read or stumbled upon something like that. I assumed it was used with older students though. It would have to be a modified approach because my sister moniters his homework and his computer priviledges.

But of the flipped system, while I see some benefits I somewhat think that if students are able to grasp the concepts easily at home through the video why don’t they teach themselves? I finished school in an alternative program, 3 hours of school a day between 700 to 600 teachers available from each subject to pass out assignments grade work and give assistence to those struggling. I did well.

So I am open to new ideas but when the children are still not even legally be by themselves the flipped model seems not age appropriate.

@livelaughlove21 What? Wow. Two classes in one, don’t suppose that if you are struggling in Spanish you have even the slightest chance of learning math. Sink or Swim.

Carinaponcho's avatar

I am now a sophomore and I can’t remember ever taking a test like this. I went to public school. But perhaps my memory is just not correct. If I ever took one, I always passed and never had to retake.

geeky_mama's avatar

This sounds like a legacy of “No Child Left Behind”. I’m not sure what Alaska’s Dept. of Education has, as a State, decided with regards to proficiency testing, but here in Minnesota we now have a series of tests that children must pass—and these tests are also used to determine whether children get special services (e.g. Title 1 tutoring) or Gifted & Talented programs. There are also tests, at the High School level, required to graduate. (The test is called: GRAD)

Considering the boy is located in North Pole, Alaska – it’s not surprising that his classes and also his tutoring might be via online resources.. that’s an under-served community for teachers. Also, it’s not surprising that his teachers are valuing his test-taking skill improvement over his classroom instruction. Sad fact is – test taking skills are important in this world and when kids do well in a class but don’t test very well, teachers will focus on improving their test taking skills. (He may get good grades, but he needs to do well on tests to continue on to University, for example.)

My kids (currently in grades 3, 6 and 11) do mention that the teachers do tend to “teach to the tests” on occasion—which is to say, they do a LOT of practice tests, talking about strategies for taking the standardized tests and preparing for the content.

Is it sad that they’re focused on that rather than learning in a more organic and child-centered way – well, yeah, but realistically that’s not how the rest of life is going to work for them.

As an example, we put our first child (my oldest daughter) in a Montessori school program from about age 2 until 1st grade. She learned at her own pace, learned spatial concepts and creative math strategies with wooden blocks..she knew how to write her name and tell stories—we thought she was well prepared for school after 5 years in Montessori.

She struggled HORRIBLY until nearly 4th grade in Public school. She qualified for Title 1 tutoring for reading and this really helped her. By 4th grade not only was she doing well academically (in class) but she tested as Gifted and was moved to a Gifted & Talented program where she was being challenged with High School level math.

So, why did the same kid who was considered gifted need tutoring and to be pulled out of class? Why was intervention needed for a girl who was later considered Gifted? She didn’t test well. She couldn’t demonstrate to the teachers that she had the reading comprehension level she needed for her grade level. She was used to a different style of learning and had to be tutored to adapt to perform according to the State Educational standards.

So, while it seems odd that they’re creating Google+ accounts (perhaps this is for the tutor to send them messages or so they can Instant Message questions during the sessions?)..I don’t think I’d fight any of it.
Continue to encourage his voracious reading – but encourage him to learn strategies to SHOW what he knows.

(As a side note, my kids all have google email accounts—even the 3rd grader. In our area it’s a necessity for things like Community Sports/Activities..they use Google Calendars & email for both the kids & the parents and from a surprisingly young age.)

Seek's avatar

@geeky_mama It’s not the account that’s the problem, it’s the fact that they did not get parental permission in order to do so. Conceivably, your kids have your consent to have the Google accounts.

geeky_mama's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Gotcha – and I agree very much.
Yep, it was me that created my kids Google accounts and I have the passwords to get into them to monitor my kids’ online activities. I agree that not getting parental consent before creating an online account is not cool.

Unbroken's avatar

@geeky_mama thank you for such a detailed and knowledged response. The whole deal still makes me a little angry and disillusioned, but now I feel a little more practical and resigned as well.

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