We Should Not Deny Teachers the Opportunity to Excel

According to Barber and Phillips, high performance and rapid progress are possible only with a fusion of support and pressure. Both resources (support) and expectations (pressure) are necessary. What resources do we then provide teachers? And what are our expectations? We do not increase our expectations by providing less resources. Such is simply cruel. We do not increase resources by expecting less from our teachers. Such is utterly complacent. Sorting students according to what we perceive as their performance is an example of what not to do in education. We are attempting to make classrooms more homogeneous because in our mind, we think that will make teaching easier when in reality, we are lowering expectations. Effective teaching means having the student in mind first, meeting the needs and aspirations of each one, and aiming for the best for all. Advanced academic programs shove a label on each child, completely dismissing the fact that teachers can make a difference.

Above copied from
Barber, M. & Phillips, V. Journal of Educational Change (2000) 1: 277. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010064308012

Our new representative to the school board in Fairfax County, Dr. Ricardy Anderson, recently shared the following on Facebook.

Carol Tomlinson, Virginia' Teacher of the Year in 1974, has this to say with regard to segregating students according to what we perceive as their academic ability. First, there are two myths. The first one is that we could create a homogeneous class. The second one is that tracking is good for students. Both are not true. Believing in both myths simply means not knowing what a teacher should do inside a classroom.
"For the most part, our entire education system is set up to separate children into what we think are relatively homogeneous groups and teach them with uniformity so they can perform adequately on standardized tests. But what we know is that teaching first with the student in mind and giving a diverse group of students the opportunity to work together and learn to appreciate each other increases the learning outcomes for all of the students." - Carol Tomlinson
And this comes not only from a former teacher but from a researcher in education. But we should not need evidence-based research to tell us what the teaching profession should be. It should be clear that there is nothing to be gained in telling a teacher which child is smart and which child is not. This is not what teachers need to hear. Doing so only demeans the teaching profession.

Sadly, there are those who believe otherwise. A current member of the school board sadly points out that a consultant hired by the county to help decide on its advanced academic program maintains that there is no proof that excellence and equity go hand in hand:

On the other hand, Barber and Philips also talk about a second fusion that is required for progress and performance:
Equity of opportunity for all: the fusion of equity and diversity; ensuring that all children have access to a good education which meets their needs and aspirations regardless of where they live in the community, or in what community they live.
Research tells us so, but common sense does too. When we deny teachers the opportunity to excel, we likewise deny students their opportunity to excel.

Above copied from
A Villar - Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 2017