Beavercreek Transition to Middle Schools
What are the costs and benefits associated with proposed changes? Can
we expect parent and taxpayer support, or will we be unable to finish
what we start?
How will results in the middle schools be measured? How will we know
if the middle schools are effective?
The "child centered" middle school philosophy is being adopted in
response to the district's strategic goal of a "cutting edge"
curriculum. Given that Rugg's book, The Child-Centered School
was published in 1928, in what sense can adopting his philosophies be
called "cutting edge?"
In the March, 1991 issue of Educational Leadership, Susan Allan
writes in a special feature on grouping that opposition to ability
grouping is based on "misrepresentations of the [research] findings,"
and "clearly is inappropriate" application of the findings. What is
the basis for the administration's recommendations to reduce ability
grouping in the middle schools?
We've been told that the needs of all students will be met by
"differentiated instruction" in heterogeneously grouped classrooms.
However, Carol Ann Tomlinson's work shows that differentiated
instruction is insufficiently used to meet the needs of high ability
students by both new and experienced teachers. How will these
students be challenged?
Successful School Restructuring, the authors note that
preoccupation with "schools within schools, flexible scheduling with
longer classes, teacher teaming, and reduction of-tracking and ability
grouping" often diverts attention from student learning. The authors
ask "How is the new structural tool or practice likely to improve our
school's human and social resources to increase student learning?"
They conclude "policymakers should concentrate first on the principles
of intellectural quality," and only secondarily on structural changes.
How are we using the findings of this five-year study?
In a September,
1996 article from Education Week, Stanley Pogrow lists "the
middle school movement" among reforms "based on myths about human
behavior" which will "inevitably flop" making "the profession look
stupid." Have we realisticly evaluated our chances for success?
According to Georgia's State Superintendent of Schools, Linda
Schrenko, "middle schools work well in some settings and junior high
schools work well in others. Ultimately, parents need to be able to
make the choice." Have parents in Beavercreek been given the
information appropriate to make an informed choice? Or are parents in
Beavercreek less informed or less competent than parents in Georgia?
The Stanford University Accelerated Schools Project (cited by Paul
George as a "promising direction for middle schools") requires
"buy-in" from 90 percent of full-time staff. Will Beavercreek
teachers have the opportunity to anonymously express
their professional opinions of the soundness of the proposed changes?
Paradigm Shift in the Nature of Teaching in the Public School,"
Professor Michael Andrew observed, "Personally, I think we may be
selling teachers down the river with the new paradigm. We are setting
them up for a nearly impossible task ..." Have Beavercreek
teachers had the opportunity for informed consent
regarding the administration's proposals?
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