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It was clear to everyone in the school that the

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It was clear to everyone in the school that the really smart kids were always in level one or AP classes. Students with disabilities or who lacked academic achievement were always in the lower levels. And then students like me were mostly in the middle, but took some classes with the students in higher levels. You generally got to pick the classes yourself, but got recommendations on which level would suit you best by your teachers. The high level classes were never classified as an “academic” track or called really anything at all. Anyone could be placed into those classes if they really wanted to and were willing to work hard enough. I really like the way my high school designed the levels. Yes, the students are grouped by skill level, but if you worked hard enough you could
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move into a higher level. And if you felt you couldn't keep up, you could always drop down a level. And if you were much better at Spanish than Algebra, you could be in a higher level in language than in math. So while it was a tracking design, it was not called that and there were no stereotypes about the high levels classes and the students in them or vice versa. Each student got the instruction they needed at whatever level they felt comfortable. I think it was important not to call the high level track an “academic” track, because it would have been very easy for the lower level kids to feel bad about it and possibly get teased. I think that the differentiated track has all the best intentions for the students, but would be nearly impossible for the teachers to keep up with. Having a different plan for each student and having 20 plus students in a class? How would the teacher be able to do all that in an hour class period? It wouldn't work.
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