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[Phys-l] tracking (was differentiated instruction)

Under the other heading I mentioned a large local school with students having severe problems, and mentioned that they ability grouped students.

The school is Lima Senior High School, Lima, Ohio... a city of about 40,000 within the city limits (and within the school district). This is in the rust belt, and has suffered huge loss of blue collar jobs over the last 20 to 30 years.

In 2004 they opened a new 284,861 square foot building that cost $35,000,000 with 90% grant money. Although there is one high-school "campus", students are "ability grouped" into one of three "schools."

There is the Performance Based School, the Progressive Academy, and the School of Multiple Intelligences. These have different principals and assistant principals, but one school board and one superintendent.

The Performance Based School does not meet any of the state standards as indicated by the high-stakes testing program, and they are indicated as being in "continuous improvement." The Progressive Academy meets about half the indicators and is also classed as "continuous improvement." The Multiple Intelligences meets most of the indicators and is classified as "effective."

This is a challenging school district, and they are partly trying to deal with a diverse population of many problems by ability grouping, aka tracking. Prior to the new school campus they had a single school building and administration for roughly 50 years. That didn't work either. I think the jury is still out on whether the new approach is better, same, or worse. Our county also has a vocational school for students who clearly need an alternative to regular school, and also a school for the severely handicapped or mentally retarded. So this tracking in on top of the extreme-special-needs schools.

Michael D. Edmiston, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry and Physics
Bluffton University
Bluffton, OH 45817