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Proficiency vs Placement

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I recently tried to use a charter school program through my state. I haven't gotten the grades back yet, so I am going to let them remain nameless. I was very disappointed in the entire program. Maybe some people are happy with it, maybe some people stick with it because they know the system--whatever. But we were not happy.

One of the things that jumped out at me during this experience was the sad fact that when it was discovered that my kids were behind in math, the charter school admn just wanted my kids to catch up.

That doesn't sound bad does it? I mean we all want our kids to be "caught up" especially when they are on a schedule like that. But here's the rub. They just wanted the kids caught up on paper. Their proficiency seemed to be of secondary or tertiary concern.

It was more important that my kids test at grade level, to the school, than it was for my kids to have a strong foundation in the basics of math, in a coherent order that could be built upon for the next level of mathematics to come.

It seems to me that this represents a sort of lack of nuance that probably occurs a lot, when parents and school officials discuss goals and achievements, and weaknesses in a child's academic performance.

To me, proficiency is an absolute. In fact I tell my kids, you don't have to be good at everything, but you need to at least be proficient in the basics (Reading, Writing, and Math).

But the school's message was that--we don't care if you are proficient as long as you take our tests at grade level. If you happen to make a D--so much the better, even if that represents nothing more than guesswork, and doesn't represent your actual skill level so much as your ability to guess on a multiple choice test.

We are no longer on a charter school program. My kids did just fine on their tests. Not great, but okay. But I knew that most of the grade from the math section of the tests really reflected guesswork because due to a family emergency, both children had fallen behind on math.

It also made me angry that the school was not willing to negotiate with us, concerning this known issue of being behind--that at the time was still ongoing. It wasn't as if the kids had gotten behind by screwing around, they had legitimate reasons, due to a very bad year that affected us all.

I will never forget when an administrator informed me that my eldest was "bad at algebra". And my response completely puzzled them.

How can this child be bad at something they have never been introduced to academically?

Seriously, we hadn't gotten that far. There seemed to be no concern either that their favored math program and the one we used prior to enrollment were two different animals, that didn't go in the same order. I don't know how charter schools work in other areas, but this one really gave me some headaches and stressed us all out. The whole experience completely validated my feelings that home schooling my kids is the best course if I actually want them to not jut learn some thing. But to really comprehend the topics they are taught in a way that is applicable to real life.

I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to deal with institutions that behave in this manner throughout the academic career of a child. If I stayed, the state would pay for our curriculum with a budget per child. What I discovered is that the stress that it caused us wasn't worth the economic assistance.


  1. Diggerbee's Avatar
    OMG I cannot believe I missed the R--WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!

    Bangs head repeatedly on key board.

    I am going to go tuck my skirt in my pantyhose now, and walk around in a mall so I can see what regular embarrassment feels like in comparison to this awful feeling!
  2. ScienceGeek's Avatar
    That kind of attitude from the charter school is exactly why we left the one we had been using for years. The first couple of years with the school were great, I enjoyed meeting with the teachers (they were also homeschoolers), but then the school was reviewed and told they had to crack down on standards and tests, hired a lot of public school teachers to interact with families and it became all about the tests, so we left. We ended up joining a new charter school that's made up entirely of people who also homeschool so they 'get it' and its been much nicer. We homeschool thru a charter purely for the $, $2000 a year per kid really helps with all the piano and kempo lessons! So its worth checking out other charter schools. They're not all the same.
  3. Diggerbee's Avatar
    The one that is available that I know of besides this one is K12. We are just getting back into our routine finally. The money would be nice, but I also didn't care for how educational programs in this area fetishize online learning either. It left me a little wary of all of them. It has been my observation that kids given unlimited access to a device will feel compelled to play games and cruise the netz over homework. I went from being able to set my kids down with work books or reading material while I do chores, to having to breathe down their little necks to ensure the work got done. I felt that the online curriculum wasn't retained very well, and that it was of poorer quality than workbooks I could find in a dollar tree. I could write numerous blog entries over everything that went wrong, but I kept it short, because it really really disappointed me and the kids, and ticked me and them off, all the while we felt compelled to finish (we like to finish things).
  4. CrazyGooseLady's Avatar
    We did k12 for my kids in elementary in CA. Then we moved to WA and did it with an ALE (not WAVA.) I was so glad that I left when I did. K12 stopped giving placement tests because they wanted all the kids "at" grade level. They started doing online classes for elementary kids in the areas that "most kids" have problems with on the state tests. (I did one of those as an optional with my daughter....waste of time.) All because kids were not getting a good education at the regular schools so they were leaving to go to K12, which was advanced...I felt really sorry for all the parents. Then, while in WA, K12 changed the math. My 5th grade daughter had problems we couldn't solve. I took them to a teacher, who said that they were SAT level math problems! In 5th grade! I dumped the math for her, then dumped it all for the other kids the following year. My younger two have learning differences....I could see from what my daughter was doing, it wasn't going to work.

    So far at the ALE...we have not had issues about "being on grade level." My boys have some issues...but they tend to test fairly well (we will see how the Common Core test goes....) They tend to get about or slightly below grade level. But...youngest is dyslexic and I had both tested, older is ADHD and has writing issues. But...come high school...they may want them "at grade level" for the stupid tests. We will see how that goes.
  5. Diggerbee's Avatar
    Ridiculous. Why put SAT level math in a primary school test? Other than to emotionally abuse a child and convince them they are "bad" at math. I am glad you found a program that works. We are getting back on track, It's slow sometimes, but that's okay. I can go slower if we need to. No need to teach to the test or the paycheck for that matter. There we go again as a country. Replacing one broken paradigm with a worse one.
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