Persistent declines in level 4 middle school ELA scores and other hallmarks of flagging achievement from the top tier of New York City's students have prompted many commenters' heartfelt concern about the untoward effects of a test-driven education culture.
The point's not lost on academe -- eduwonkette's post today substantiates what we've heard and seen, as does this study. The flip side is, no matter how dogged, test-linked, or slow, real progress is being made among the lowest-performing sets of kids; many connect the NCLB dots to rising achievement.
If moving under-skilled kids forward is the prime educational target, as Chancellor Klein has asserted multiple times, what is the cost to the city's most-skilled students? Why do these students show poorer test scores? And how can the "two steps forward, one back" pace change to one that moves everyone forward, struggling learners and motivated, prepared, and ambitious kids alike?
G+T and other specialized, enriched programs are only part of the answer. Legions of kids just don't ace the tests, and others aren't offered the opportunity. The challenge, we worry, will outlast the Bloomberg era: While seeking to meet the needs of the least able, how can the city better support its top learners?
The kids who are middle- and high-school students today will quickly become the voters that define the city's agenda. How can we best serve them to learn, and to lead, tomorrow?