The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board voted to eliminate advanced language arts courses next year at two of its middle schools. This comes on top of dropping similar classes for sixth-graders this year, and plans to eventually eliminate all eighth-grade advanced language arts courses. Peculiar moves, given the district’s history of being one of the best, if not the best, school systems in North Carolina.
. . . District officials say advanced courses lead to “tracking,” or grouping of students by academic ability, which can lead to high expectations and extra opportunities for gifted students. Conversely, they believe tracking can doom non-gifted pupils to low expectations and exclusion. So instead of teaching high-performing kids in accelerated courses, the board has adopted the one-class size fits all, equality-based theories behind differentiation.
The local NAACP had complained that most students in advanced classes are white and Asian. Instead of preparing black and Hispanic students for more challenging classes, the district is holding back everyone.
In elementary and junior high, we had no advanced classes. Everybody was lumped together. I coped with the boredom by reading surreptitiously in class. I literally read every fiction book in the elementary school library by the middle of fifth grade, in addition to averaging five books a week from the public library. In high schools, most classes were tracked. It was wonderful. But it did cut into my reading time.