Excellence and Equity Can Go Hand in Hand

Back in 2009, Tom Loveless of the conservative Fordham Institute warned against the detracking of schools in Massachusetts. He suggested that tracking (grouping students according to abilities) leads to higher achievement since advanced students are given wider opportunities and greater challenges. Loveless, in his article, was specifically referring to the public schools in the state of Massachusetts, where detracking has become widespread in middle schools. Fast forward, ten years later, the state of Massachusetts has received the honor of being number one in the nation in terms of K-12 achievement, scoring high on all criteria: current performance, improvement throughout the past 15 years, and in addressing the poverty achievement gap. Excellence and equity can indeed be realized at the same time.

Above copied from EdWeek

Massachusetts in the only state in the United States that scored a grade of B+. New Jersey gets a B and Virginia gets a B-. These are the only states that are blue, blue-green or green on the map. In fact, almost every state is either orange (C) or gray (D). Massachusetts receives an A based on the current performance of its students and an A- in equity. Its only low mark is in improvement, a C+. Obviously, one cannot really improve so much from something that is already high in performance.

Applying what kind of tracking Loveless was talking about on Philippine basic education, one must note that he was not supporting the tracking that is now present in the Philippines' K to 12 curriculum. Loveless wrote, "In the middle of the twentieth century, traditional tracking systems were rigid and deterministic. Students and families had little input regarding classroom placements. Based predominantly on IQ scores, schools assigned youngsters to tracks —academic, general, or vocational—that cut across all subject areas, ignored students’ individual strengths and weaknesses in particular subjects, made unjustifiable assumptions about children’s destinations in life, and systematically discriminated against pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds". Instead, Loveless was only referring to students being offered advanced courses in subjects like math and language arts. In any case, it is clear that the warning against detracking is not really warranted as evidence shows, Massachusetts is doing very well. Who knew? "Education for All" can mean "Excellent Education for All".