Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hey good-lookin'! Whatcha got cookin'?

We smell some books cooking in urban education!

Funny thing -- there seem to be about the same amount of absent kids in classrooms as always.  But guess what?  Official attendance rates are soaring!  Can you smell a whiff of attendance manipulation?  Mmmm, sure smells good to all the schools getting off probation!

There's a few more ingredients in the pot as well. You know freshmen, those 14 year-old wigglers whose "On-Track-to Graduate" rates are highly tied to school ratings?  Well, urban 14-year olds seem about the same as always: cute, still growing, braces, test scores pretty blah, a bit of gang-bang posturing for the benefit of the girls, some scrapping in the halls, a bit of unsupportive language here and there, not much homework going on.  But guess what?Freshman On Track rate is off the charts!  Smells good!

And maybe you've heard of a program called Advanced Placement?  It's super-hard classes for real go-getters; AP = rigor in EVERYONE's book.  And guess what?  More and more high schools are enrolling ALL their seniors in AP classes, even students with IEPs (that's an acronym for "Special Needs").  Not that kids with special needs aren't clever -- haven't you ever heard the story about Albert Einstein and high school math? But some kids with special needs have disabilities like dysgraphia (that means that they can't write, even if their teacher has really, really high expectations).  The tricky thing about an AP exam is that it has to be WRITTEN.  Let's just say this -- the AP graders are probably scratching their heads when they open the packet of test materials.  Lucky for urban schools, only ENROLLMENT in the class is needed to collect brownie points, not doing something hard, like passing the AP exam.  Nevertheless -- smells good!

The newest, magical ingredient in the pot is International Baccalaureate another SUPER RIGOROUS program for only the most selective of students....except in urban education. Some schools in Chicago are going wall-to-wall IB which is even better than SUPER RIGOROUS because everyone is enrolled! You think AP smells good, well, IB smells even better because it began in Geneva, Switzerland! That fragrance you smell wafting through the halls of IB schools are the core values of all IB learners (even those who don't want to be in the programme): inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, and reflective. Nevermind there are some big complainers out there who say IB costs districts lots of money, with little pay off later. Oh well -- smells good!

All of these ingredients have created a fragrant brew that's scenting halls and classrooms everywhere! You can't help but catch a whiff!  The only turd stinking up the pot is that dang ACT average.  Somehow schools can't cook that turd.


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