en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

Can the Malden School Committee do better?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  American education has focused on one aspect of equity for several decades: on making sure that children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds reach a minimum level of proficiency. There has been some success. However, bright and high-ability students are often neglected, with the assumption that they already know enough or that they will do just fine no matter what. It’s not true.

  While there is nothing wrong with allocating resources to help students who are struggling to read at grade level, our policy makers should stop neglecting our advanced learners. At the last school subcommittee meeting, some speakers who called in expressed sentiments to the effect that the AEAP program is exclusive and unfair. I disagree. Educating everyone the same is not a good objective at all. These programs are not elitist, especially in a Title I district like Malden and we need to do more than just “close the achievement gap.” In the words of American author Chester Finn, “If America is to remain internationally competitive with other advanced nations; we need to maximize the potential of our top students.”

  It has been shown that “differentiated instruction” in the classroom is not effective. While a few teachers might be able to pull it off, too often the high-ability students are forgotten or get assigned busy work so the teacher can give more help to the students who are below grade level. On the other hand, separate learning opportunities, where peers are grouped together, as seen in acceleration and enrichment programs in countries like Germany, Canada’s Ontario, Switzerland and Singapore, have been shown to be more effective.

  Although we tiptoe around this fact, high-ability learners are the most likely to make major contributions to society. They are our future leaders, yet they are rarely pushed to their full potential.

  What if the high-ability students are from disadvantaged homes, in which academics are not a priority, they aren’t fluent in English or from families that do not have the financial means for tutoring? Equity requires that we develop their untapped potential. We can’t afford to waste it.

  Like any program, the AEAP is not perfect; it needs attention and to be adapted. But that can be done while the program is still running! As heard from students at the last school committee meeting, the program is creating a positive impact in children’s lives. Instead of ending a program that develops children, why not grow it into all the Malden Public Schools?

  I’ll be waiting to see if the Malden School Committee will do better by our students.

Contact Advocate Newspapers