Florida middle-school students are taking high school-level courses in search of an academic challenge, reports the Orlando Sentinel. But the practice may be stopped because white students are more likely than Hispanics or blacks to choose advanced classes.
*At Lee Middle School in Orlando, 93 percent of the kids who take high-school geometry and 77 percent who take Earth-Space science are white. Meanwhile, 29 percent of all Lee students are white.
*At Maitland Middle, about 10 percent of the kids taking high-school-level Algebra I Honors and Earth-Space science are minorities. But almost 40 percent of the school’s total enrollment are minorities.
Denying motivated students a shot at higher-level courses wouldn’t help average and low achievers. But it would disguise the large disparities in achievement.
The Sentinel, which seems to have started this controversy, says scholars think middle school should be “nurturing,” not academic. (But let’ s not nurture the aspirations of the smart kids.)
Tracking students by ability (or performance) is out of favor — and possibly illegal, writes the Sentinel.
In some districts — including those in Georgia, Texas and Massachusetts — (tracking) led to action by federal civil-rights agencies. In New Bedford, Mass., the government forced officials to limit tracking in several junior highs.
I think letting students try advanced classes is quite different. from assigning them to no-hope remedial classes.