The Learning Environment

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Empty milk cartons and juice boxes litter the floor. Directly across from me, a bald, tattooed young man pulls on the arm of a smallish girl. Nearby, a random shout of expletives echoes down the hall. This is the snapshot of the school that I encounter each day.


As I developed my relationship with students and began to learn more about their educational experiences, a rather bleak picture began to emerge about the nature of class placement and standardized test assessment. Although the institutional divisive system of academic segregation-tracking-should no longer be a reality in LAUSD schools, students are, to some degree, still segregated into classes based on their skill level. At my school, such "tracking" systems are still fully functional. Ninth grade students are placed in their English and math classes based on their state standardized score results, regardless of the grades they received in previous classes. As a result, some of the "lower-level" students placed in sheltered or remedial classes were actually the A-students in middle school who failed to take the state standardized exams seriously. These students are next programmed into classes designed for low-skilled students. Unlike designated "high-level" students, "low-level" students are often not provided with the same resources, nor are they placed in classes with a quality standard of performance. ...
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