Letter to High-School Superintendentcirca 1992.
Removing the Accelerated English 9 class and implementing a non-tracked system is a mistake.
If the objective is to raise the average test scores, by using the top students in each class to teach the rest, there is the risk of not challenging the top students. This may result in an overall rise in test scores, but it will be at the expense of boring the students who have been in the accelerated track.
A student's job is to learn at his or her level of ability, not to take the place of a teacher. If there are not enough teachers to help the students at a good student to teacher ratio, then more teachers should be added. If students with ability, who are motivated to move forward at a fast rate, are lost, who will be motivated to lead companies and try new exciting technologies in the future?
The objective of school should be to teach each student at the upper edge of his or her ability. An accelerated class allows this by grouping the accelerated kids together where they can go forward at their fast pace. A regular class should also move at a speed that allows optimum learning.
How would a kid who learns more slowly feel in a class where there are 3 or 4 kids who can ace the class without any effort, while he or she can barely manage to keep up? Cooperative learning can take place most effectively where everyone has close to the same ability, with complementary talents.
If top students are not challenged, their parents, who are concerned about the future of their children, will send them to private schools, taking their test averages with them, resulting in a lower public school test average.
The Japanese system of education is a tracked system, and they are beating the U.S., on the average, in test scores. In that country, unmotivated students don't get the chance to go to college. America was based on individuals, who take the initiative to change their life for the better. If individuals are wanted, then students must be allowed to progress at their own rate, be it accelerated or deliberate.
The reason many students are not motivated in this country, as opposed to Japan, is because in the U.S., if a student does poorly in school, his parents can still pay his way into college, whereas in Japan, students who do not perform well in school, and do not pass a final test cannot go on to college.
In this age when sports stars get paid more than scientists, and kids want to grow up and be lawyers just because they make a lot of money, a greater emphasis must be placed on efforts that help the human race, not simply make lots of money for the individual. The U.S. needs excellence and leadership as a country. Who will do it?
If America is to strive ahead as a country, the top students must be allowed to work to the fullest of their ability, so that in the future we will have strong leaders. Eliminating Accelerated English 9 will not allow students to achieve their fullest.