Are 1st grade classes divided up according to the Kindergarten end of year assessment tests?

Question:My child's new 1st grade teacher is a fresh-out-of-college teacher. My child's end-of-year assessment test showed him as being 16th in the class. He is really smart but he has a problem with paying attention so I think he did not do his best on the test. (I think he was not challenged enough in Kindergarten.) Anyway, my husband thinks he may have been put into the slower-learner class being that he has a less experienced teacher. Do you think that is the case? He is a lot more advanced than other kids his age and I'm afraid that if he is not challenged he will have behavior problems again.

Answers:
Generally, schools try and mix up students so that there are a variety of boys and girls, well behaved and trouble makers, and smart and not-so-smart kids in each class. I haven't heard of a (public) school dividing kids up by their abilities (although some schools will have certain subjects taught at ability level, such as reading or math, for a short period during the regular day).

A fresh-out-of-college teacher is not necessarily a bad thing. They have all the latest information out there and usually have a ton of enthusiasm for teaching. Most schools also have mentor systems in place where a more experienced teacher helps out the newer teacher, offers advice, and is someone the new teacher can go to with any problems that may arise.

Any good teacher is willing to listen to parents' ideas and suggestions when aiding a child, so go in and talk to him or her. Let him/her know of your concerns and what has worked for your child in the past. Together, you can work out a plan that will be effective in meeting the needs of your child.

~Kyanna
The process you describe is called "tracking." It isn't very common in the lower grades, but becomes more prevalent at higher grades. It would be very difficult to prove that tracking exists without access to standardized test scores, and the school districts will not release this data "to protect the children."

There are two philosphical approaches to assigning children to classes. One says that it benefits the slower children to mix the advanced students with the slower kids, and helps the advanced kids with social skills. The opposite argument is that keeping the advanced kids with the slower holds back the more capable, resulting in bored kids, while over taxing the abilities of the slower students.

That said, most educators know that standardized test scores are only one measure of a student's progress and ability; any assignment based on ability would likely be based on more than just the end-of-year tests.

As to the newby teacher. Most areas of the country are experiencing teacher shortages, and many of the best are leaving the profession within five years for other pastures. If George Bernard Shaw's comment, "Those who can do, those who can't teach" has any merit, I'd stay with the new teacher.

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