Beavercreek News Current
Tuesday, December 16, 1997
Letter to the Editor
Jerry and Sue Wagner
A Taxing Middle School Proposal?
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Beavercreek taxpayers need to be aware of a proposal before the board of education that could impact the quality of our new middle schools and result in an additional tax levy in future years. See Middle School Results
Although taxpayers were told they were voting for a building improvement levy in 1995, this appears to be only installment one of a two-phase tax increase proposal. The academic placement committee has proposed the new middle schools eliminate enriched and honors classes in all but mathematics and establish "heterogeneous grouping" of students in each grade. See Academic Placement Committe Recommendations
In a one-teacher classroom, 30 to 40 students will be grouped into at least three levels based on their proficiency in the subject being taught. It is not hard to envision that a teacher's time largely will be divided between the demands of the higher and lower proficient students while the big losers will be average to above average students. A possible solution is to utilize more instructors so that all students' needs are met in this grouped classroom. But let's be realistic, Beavercreek taxpayers are not inclined to approve a new levy to hire more teachers and administrators so that we can model ourselves after Centerville, Dublin and other wealthy school districts cited in the models presented to the board. Beavercreek taxpayers approved a brick and mortar levy in 1995 for building improvements and establishing a middle school. We did not anticipate, nor were we told of, plans to totally overhaul the middle school curriculum by adopting heterogeneous grouping. See Heterogeneous Grouping

See also Grouping Examined

Our school district could see its overall academic standing decline if this recommendation is approved. Heterogeneous grouping is both expansive and expensive if properly implemented, with several years of trial and error experimentation on students to achieve an optimal program. If additional tax levies fail, or if state funding is cut (as could happen due to the funding formula crisis in our state), the result will be classes that are "dumbed down" to a level appropriate for the resources available. Middle schools and honors programs work together successfully and cost effectively throughout the nation. Middle schools in Vandalia close to home and the highly regarded North Olmsted in the Cleveland area include two to three subjects with honors or enhanced courses. See Few Middle Schools Exemplary
We should be looking into ways to offer more enhanced classes in science and social studies in our middle schools rather than grouping students of all levels together and potentially teaching to the least common denominator. Do not embrace an idea that may sound "inclusive," but may end up shortchanging the majority of students by reducing, rather than increasing their opportunities for academic success. There is no compelling reason to implement grouping next year as the academic placement committee proposes. A strong and efficient middle school curriculum can easily be developed without approving the recommendation on grouping. See Where Are the Model Middle School Curricula?
We urge the school board to proceed slowly and study the academic placement committee recommendations carefully. We urge residents to tune into cable channel 10 and listen to the concerns expressed by parents, incoming school board member Mary Mathieu and departing board member Janet Gum. Plan to attend the next school board meeting at City Hall on Jan. 8, 1998. Your children's academic future and your tax dollars are at stake.
Students Lose When School's Attention Shifts from Student Learning to New Structures


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