Originally Posted by Piobaire
When/where I grew up there was no bones about the fact kids were "tracked." As for the "bad" students we had an entire secondary school dedicated to these kids. It was a "tech school" which meant the girls learned how to be hair dressers, secretaries, and good wives and the boys learned carpentry, machine shop, and similar skills.
In my high school there were three course prefixes. There were the 300 kids that were expected to drop out in Grade 11, the 400 that were expected to finish grade 12 and either go to work or the local community college (that was an actual tech/trade school vs. what CCs are in the US now, i.e. extended high school), and then the 500 that were expected to complete grade 13 and go on to university.
There's also the distinction between "bad" students and developmentally disabled kids. It seems absurd to me to put severely autistic kids (for example) in normal public schools. They drain resources and are a severe disruption for teachers and the other students. I get that parents don't want to give up on their kids, but we need to be realistic about what they can really accomplish. In the old days, those kids would get locked in a special ed classroom and basically shuttled along for 12 years until they "graduated." In the older days, they'd just end up in an asylum. We're in this weird position now where we just pretend they're sort of normal, while overloading parents and the normal schools.
My school did tracking, but it was just normal/"college prep" (ie, what should have been the basic level), and gifted. You took essentially an IQ test in elementary school and then had a couple other chances to get in or out. It seemed to work out well, the Gifted and Talented kids did really well and weren't a disproportionate drain on resources. The normal level students often took a lot more vocational classes, although not as focused as what you describe I don't believe.
AP classes (and high school rankings) plus NCLB have really fucked that system up. Schools have a huge incentive to stuff as many kids as possible into AP classes, including those who have little demonstrated ability to handle the material. So they dumb down the class, still call it AP, then nobody takes (or passes, anyway) the test. NCLB mandates that everybody pass the same tests, and there are plenty of people who really won't need algebra in their real life.
Originally Posted by brokencycle
I'm not finding any data to support or deny ethan's claim that charter schools can just drop kids willy nilly other than opinion articles.
Quite honestly though, I think allowing students to drop out/not forcing them to go to school would have positive effects. In my high school, there were always kids that didn't want to be there and caused problems. They would go enough that they didn't get truancy fines. When they were there, all they did was cause problems. How does that benefit anyone?
Kids are pretty much biologically incapable of correctly weighting long term consequences, so it shouldn't be trivial to let them permanently alter their life by dropping out of high school. People without a high school education are basically guaranteed a slot in the underclass. I don't know how many "troubled" kids end up accomplishing anything, but I'd assume it's greater than zero.
What would be an interesting consideration is a German-style vocational track. At least if you opt-in to that, you're still learning something
that can help you make a living.