Your Views: Start challenging high-achieving kids in ACPS

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Photo credit: Cody Mello-Klein
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To the editor:

As a parent of sixth and eighth grade children who attend George Washington Middle School, seeing Alexandria’s recent SOL scores brings me great stress and sadness.

My children are usually among the first students to finish their SOLs and they ace the tests, sometimes getting perfect scores. However, at GW and largely across ACPS, my children don’t matter.

Instead of providing a challenging curriculum for my children and others – whether they are Caucasian, Latino or any other ethnicity – that excel academically, GW and ACPS continue to focus money and time on those students that can’t pass the SOLs.

With the exception of math, which accelerated students are taught a whole grade level ahead in ACPS, all other middle school subjects are taught at only the basic level required to pass the SOLs, even if a child is designated as Talented and Gifted.

Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy, a K-5 school, has an exceptional Gifted and Talented Program, where my fifth grader was reading and studying in more depth the same book at the exact time as my TAG seventh grader at George Washington Middle School.

My daughter wrote more papers in 5th grade at LCTA than in 6th and 7th grades combined at GWMS. The principal at Lyles Crouch, Dr. Patricia Zissios, realizes that children who excel academically matter just as much as students who can’t pass the SOL.

If ACPS continues to focus solely on those students who cannot pass an SOL while neglecting high-performing students, parents will continue to pull their kids from ACPS and put them in private schools. Then, the pool of test takers will dwindle and be more concentrated with students who cannot pass the SOL.

ACPS should stop discriminating against the highest-performing children of all races and backgrounds. And if you counter that separate classes for TAG students at GW would be made up of all white children from financially stable families, then you too, are discriminating. African American children, Hispanic children, Asian children and, yes, children from low-income families, are intelligent and deserve to be pushed to their fullest potential – as ACPS’ mission statement used to say.

-Molly Kaiman, Alexandria

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1 COMMENT

  1. Wholeheartedly agree with this author. It has been a long established fact, validated two years ago by a nationally recognized expert funded by the school board, that the TAG program – once outside the confines of elementary school – is essentially non-existent. This crucial time for students in their academic and intellectual growth is stunted by an attitude that in middle school the brightest students in ACPS need no more educational stimulation than basic coursework. This leads to students with only themselves and family to figure out ways to grow at a pace that doesn’t incite boredom, lack of interest, and in some cases disruptive behaviors – or those who are inclined and can afford so to move or flee to private schools. I’m not sure how in any way that reflects “where every student succeeds.”