I think that that Dekalb middle school parents, teachers, and administrators need to have an open discussion about the efficacy of the Springboard curriculum, and the damage it could be doing to our children. Springboard is an expensive and extensive new curriculum in language arts and math offered by the College Board to increase the number of children from disadvantaged subgroups that take high school advanced placement courses. Dekalb middle school teachers spend upwards of 25% of their classroom time on the Springboard cirriculum. Dr. Lewis requires that ALL middle school students in ALL schools participate in the Springboard program, and the DCSS employs many Springboard coaches.
The College Board's Springboard website does not list a single independent study of the effectiveness of Springboard. The web site touts DCSS as a major success for the Springboard curriculum, and provides statistics like "every DeKalb middle school using SpringBoard improved its percentage of students meeting or exceeding the state’s standard on the 2008 Grade 8 Writing Assessment compared with 2007."
Teachers from Shamrock, Henderson, and Kittredge loath the Springboard curriculum. A sample of criticisms can be found on April Griffin's Blog. Teachers just read prepackaged Springboard lessons to their students. Students loath it even more, and call it tedious, boring, and mind-numbing. They call it Springbored. Language arts teachers tell me that without Springboard, their students would spend much more time reading books and writing in class.
One insider speculated that the real reason that Dr. Lewis supports this program so strongly is that "it increases the classroom effectiveness of the worst teachers, and he has many of them in his middle schools, especially in language arts and math."
Shamrock, Henderson, and Kitridge feed into high schools that US News rates in the top 5% in the nation, based on AP courses. Why must these middle school students, especially the brighter ones, be subjected to this mind-numbing curriculum, and as a result, do much less reading and writing in middle school?
Any suggestions on what parents and teachers can do to free our our children from "Springbored"?
Addendum: My notes describe a discussion by the Board that they were eliminating Springboard and implementing the replacement program called, America's Choice - in Title 1 schools. (Funding from a Perkins Grant.) Are they continuing the Springboard program in non-Title 1 schools? Do you feel it's inferior? Is there an even bigger question here regarding Title 1 schools receiving superior instruction?