A great failure of our country is that America is not supporting universal pre-school. By the time so many kids get to high school, they are WAY behind.
Because they started off kindergarden way behind. Some kids show up on day one writing their name, knowing how to sit in a group and listen to a teacher and others don’t yet even know the entire alphabet and cry for their mommies when the teacher asks them to sit and and pay attention.
By first grade a self-image of who is competent in school has already begun to form in the minds of children. And that self-image is, in lots of cases (especially without excellent early education/elementary teachers) a self-fulfilling prohesy.
By 3rd grade kids who have not received any sort of individual tutoring, mentoring, SOMETHING to derail them from the inner belief of low competency in school fall into ruts whereby they expect less of themselves because they have a history of delivering less than the kid next to them. (Often, that’s a kid who went to pre-school.)
By the following year we get to see the joy of the infamous 4th grade plunge. Here’s something from the Spring 2003 issue of the American Educator. The title: “The Fourth-Grade Plunge: The Cause, the Cure”. The cover of the special includes a summary that states:
“In fourth grade, poor children’s reading comprehension starts a drastic decline-and rarely recovers. The Cause: They hear millions fewer words at home than do their advantaged peers-and since words represent knowledge, they don’t gain the knowledge that underpins reading comprehension. The Cure: Immerse these children, and the many others whose comprehension is low, in words and the knowledge the words represent- as early as possible.”
Middle school means puberty, awkwardness and a world of personal discombobulation. High school… well, I’ve written tomes about that in the past.
Does every kid need pre-school? Well, Bill Gates didn’t need college and Kobe went right to the NBA from high school so no… every kid does not.
But does every kid need pre-school? In this day and age, I’d say yes.
And if I am a bubble test maker right now, I gotta be thinking, “Ya know… he’s right. And I bet if we do get universal pre-school accepted across the nation, we could finagle our way into bubble testing the 3 year olds too… cause any highly functioning pre-school is, of course, informed by high quality data-driven assessment.”
Get kids up to speed in high school? In far too many high schools teachers are struggling to get kids up to a middle school level. And so, so many middle school teachers are struggling to get their kids to an elementary level.
And elementary teachers are so, so dependent on the background of the learner before they ever came to school.
I am back on the bandwagon and preaching, I feel, to the choir.