Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remediate Me

Yet another post with no picture, alas. This has to be quick, because I only have a few minutes before the students begin to invade!

So. According to the research that I've read and can't recall where I read it, social promotion (with or without remediation) doesn't work. (My response: "Well duh!") Students who are sent to the next level of a course without having mastered the material from the previous level have greater difficulty at the higher level and are likely to fall even further behind. Again: Duh.

However, apparently, retention is even worse. Students who are retained do not benefit from the additional YEAR of instruction, and fall behind even their NEW classmates.

Okay, so, what now?

I think the problem is with remediation - sort of the same way we have issues with tracking. Tracks should be flexible, with students moving in and out on a fairly regular basis. Students who've been really sick and out for weeks could drop to a remedial track for a short period and receive more intense instruction until they have caught up to their peer group, for example, and then moved back into the regular class. Sort of like that. However, what ends up happening is that students placed in a lower track simply stay there.

I guess I see the issue as limited supply. There will always be some teachers that are better than others. So who should get the best teachers? Who "needs" them the most? The students who are struggling more - or the excellent students, who need a "greater challenge?" Or the ones stuck in the middle?

Anyway, the POINT of this was to ask if anyone knows of any GOOD remediation strategies - ones that won't simply perpetuate the cycle.


Lightly Seasoned said...

Keep at grade level and offer additional support to students who need it. We implemented the strategy a couple of years ago and it is reducing the number of F's and keeping some at-risk students progressing. They take a special English lab, staffed by an English teacher, along with their regular English class. The lab teachers teaches supportive lessons and helps the students complete their regular course work.

I'm split between remedial and advanced placement. Works for me and the kids. I wouldn't want to do either all day.

Melissa B. said...

We're starting a new schedule this year that will incorporate remediation for ALL students into the school day. Part of the PLT plan, or whatever. I think the idea is for the kids who really need the help to be able to get it in a timely fashion, and the others will be able to benefit from enrichment. We'll see how that works. It's so hard when a student needs the help, though, and doesn't want to take advantage of the help that's offered!

roller coaster teacher said...

Wow - I'm so glad to see this conversation, the question you posed, and especially lightly seasoned's response. My middle school does basically that, and it's my new job to remediate reading and writing as the ELA lab teacher! Students do flow in and out of the class, "as needed", sometimes dictated by their state assessment scores, sometimes their teachers' recommendations, sometimes their schedule.

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