Streaming -the alternatives
Here’s an interesting problem. Most schools have A stream classes in English and justify them on the grounds of Gifted and Talented policy, challenging the top end and so on. The problem is that they don’t work.
It’s not just me that’s saying this. There’s a lot of research. If you’ve heard of effect sizes, John Hattie’s way of measuring how effective educational changes or initiatives are, then I can tell you that streamed classes come out at around O.4. For those who haven’t, it means that all the effort of sorting students into classes, and all the parental feedback, and all the energy and effort leads to – the same outcomes as mixed classes.
But what’s the alternative? Particularly if we’re serious about improving student’s results, and making sure that our best students get the challenges they need in English?
One approach that might work could be the Junior Extension class. What if we had flexible classes in the Junior years, with students applying for a special placement for a semester on the understanding that they would return to a regular class? This would run at the same time as the students’ regular English class but would deliberately target an area of interest that students have elected to develop.
Students might elect a class with a creative and persuasive writing emphasis, or a special unit on code-breaking. Competitive Public Speaking and Debating? Film and Website Creation? Critically Responding to Australian Literature? Playwriting and Performance?
Administration would probably be no more onerous than streaming. And we might more effectively meet the needs of a greater range of students. What do you think?