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  #1  
Old 03 June 2008, 06:26 PM
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Teacher Locker numbers mistaken for IQ scores

Comment: I've heard the following story before, but here it is in print
from Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys. I notice
that she is very careful not to claim the story is true ("There is a
much-told story in education circles . . .," and in her end-notes, "Story
told by Dr. Carl Boyd . . .", yet she then draws conclusions from it. Here
is the story from www.taemag.com, which is very slightly different from
the version published in The War Against Boys: "Consider the case of Mrs.
Daugherty, a retired Chicago public school teacher whose story is famous
in education circles. She was a highly respected sixth-grade teacher. One
year she found her class impossible to control and began to worry that
many of them had serious learning disabilities. When the principal was
away, she did something teachers were not supposed to do: She looked in a
special file where students' I.Q.s were recorded. To her amazement, she
found that a majority of her students were way above average in
intelligence, many with I.Q.s in the 120s and 130s. One of the worst
classroom culprits was brilliant: He had an I.Q. of 145.

Mrs. Daugherty was angry at herself. She had been feeling sorry for the
children, giving them remedial work, and expecting little from them. She
immediately brought in challenging work, increased homework, and inflicted
draconian punishments on misbehavior. Slowly the students' performance
improved. By year's end, the class of ne'er-do-wells was one of the best
behaved and highest performing in the sixth grade.

The principal was delighted by the turnaround. At the end of the year, he
asked Mrs. Daugherty what she had done; she told him the truth. He forgave
her and congratulated her. But then he added, "I think you should know,
Mrs. Daugherty, those numbers next to the children's names-those are not
their I.Q. scores. Those are their locker numbers."

Three elements make me suspicious of the story. First, the teacher's name
is very specific, but her school, etc., is not mentioned, so in a way, the
details suggest truth, yet not enough to be able to verify it; second,
although not impossible, it would be quite a coincidence that her student
lockers happened to fall in the numerical area of high IQ scores (if they
had been in the 400s or in the teens, would she have accepted them);
third, I cannot imagine a form that would be so unclear that a person
examining multiple copies of it would not be able to tell vs. what was
identification information - age, locker #, etc. - and educational
history - grades, IQ scores,etc. Anyway, sorry to have gone on so long,
any thoughts on this? Have you heard it before? How does one verify (or
not) such a thing?
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  #2  
Old 03 June 2008, 06:31 PM
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Eve MG Eve MG is offline
 
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Great, just what we need - a story that says more homework will improve the kids' behavior. (Said with just a little bit of bitterness - my daughter is an excellent student but her homework level is overwhelming.)

This story sounds similar to the one about the "bad kid" who each teacher warned the next one about, until one teacher looked back in his file and saw that he started out well then had a rough year when his mom died. (Or am I confusing two stories?)

I don't mind the message that if you think well of your students and expect them to do well, it's better than expecting they will be hoodlums. But can we do it without glurgy made up stories?
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  #3  
Old 03 June 2008, 06:34 PM
ULTRAGOTHA ULTRAGOTHA is offline
 
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I graduated from University in 1987 with a degree in elementary education and a variation of this story was told to us then.
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  #4  
Old 03 June 2008, 08:43 PM
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Would their locker numbers even be on their sheets? AFAIK locker assignments were random.
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  #5  
Old 03 June 2008, 09:08 PM
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Ours were always in the same order as last names.
That A. Aaranson kid - such an idiot!
But, that Zykowski guy - brilliant!
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  #6  
Old 03 June 2008, 09:12 PM
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Wouldn't those numbers be more clearly labeled? I mean, why would she assume they were IQs if it wasn't specified? Besides, I didn't even think most students' IQs were tested.
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Old 04 June 2008, 05:08 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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Quote:
Wouldn't those numbers be more clearly labeled? I mean, why would she assume they were IQs if it wasn't specified? Besides, I didn't even think most students' IQs were tested.
I think you may have answered your own question. It's not that uncommon for organizations to use a computer system (or, I suspect, a paper form) that is not designed specifically for them. Sometimes when a field they need is missing, they just pick another field that will accept the data which is not used and stuff it there. The people who use the system knows how to interpret this, the rest are confused.

I have done enough database conversions/upgrades to have seen this all too often.
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  #8  
Old 04 June 2008, 01:26 PM
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There was an experiment where they gave IQ tests and then told teachers that certain students had been marked by the tests as being potentially excellent students. Sure enough, those student all showed great improvement over the school years.

But the names of the students had been chosen at random. The improvement, while real and measurable, was due to the teacher paying more attention to the students whose names were on the list.

Which is hardly big news. I don't think anyone disagrees that more personal attention to a student will result in better grades. That is, of course, the entire basis behind home schooling, and no one ever said, "Jimmy is doing poorly in class. Let's give him less attention so he'll improve."
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  #9  
Old 20 December 2008, 01:14 AM
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I just read the anecdote in the OP in this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/140...cm_rdp_product
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  #10  
Old 21 December 2008, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
no one ever said, "Jimmy is doing poorly in class. Let's give him less attention so he'll improve."
You didn't know my 3rd grade teacher. I totally couldn't understand multipication and her solution was to make me stand outside in the hallway for the rest of the class to do the math on my own. Luckily, the occasional janitor or principal's secretary would walk by and try to help me understand things for a few minutes.

This probably explains why I suck at math and had to take a lot of extra "stoopid kid math" classes and summer school for math twice. Even then, my high school math teacher and summer school teacher didn't teach us anything, either. We'd get in class, he'd tell us a page of work to do without explaining it at all, then we'd have to review pour awful results the next day. Lather, rinse, repeat. yeah. We'll all understand algebra that way, for sure.

Last edited by TrishDaDish; 21 December 2008 at 09:19 PM. Reason: Not only do I suck at math, I also suck at spelling and grammar
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  #11  
Old 22 December 2008, 12:35 AM
Saint James Saint James is offline
 
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Teacher

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrishDaDish View Post
You didn't know my 3rd grade teacher. I totally couldn't understand multipication and her solution was to make me stand outside in the hallway for the rest of the class to do the math on my own. Luckily, the occasional janitor or principal's secretary would walk by and try to help me understand things for a few minutes.

This probably explains why I suck at math and had to take a lot of extra "stoopid kid math" classes and summer school for math twice. Even then, my high school math teacher and summer school teacher didn't teach us anything, either. We'd get in class, he'd tell us a page of work to do without explaining it at all, then we'd have to review pour awful results the next day. Lather, rinse, repeat. yeah. We'll all understand algebra that way, for sure.
I can relate to that. All third grade I got left out from recess because I couldn't do my times tables fast enough. I was smart, but I have a learning disability which limits my skill at writing as well as my rote memorization skill.

I've heard this story before, but this is probably the first time I've seen them actually manage to reverse the lesson within.

Most of the time the story has the principal (or some other authority figure) mislead the teacher into believing the class is gifted rather than merely average.

However, this glurgification must have been written by someone below average, as they have no clue how to deal with gifted students (or even students in general).

First up - merely adding more homework doesn't encourage gifted students, it punishes them. It teaches them to hide their brilliance, 'or else'. They need material which is challenging enough to stretch them a bit, and interesting enough to captivate their imagination. (There are countless 'problem of the week' sort of activities which fit this well).

Second - more draconian punishment does not encourage learning, at best it discourages problem behaviors. If a student has difficulty with a concept, making them fearful for more punishment is only going to shut them down. Sadly, this counterproductive meme is popular with right-wingers and other authoritarian types.

I like the underlying point - that students can rise to expectations more than people realize (though there is a limit to that - the idea is to stretch their limits, not to tear them asunder) when given the benefit of the doubt. I've seen it more than a few times - given a little courtesy and respect, coupled with some gentle nudging and a few leading questions to help them consider what they already know students can often do a lot more than even they thought they could.

And for all my trouble early on, I did better in math later on when it became more conceptual and less rote - in fact I now have a credential to teach it. Now I just need a job (for now, I sub).
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  #12  
Old 24 December 2008, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eve MG View Post
Great, just what we need - a story that says more homework will improve the kids' behavior. (Said with just a little bit of bitterness - my daughter is an excellent student but her homework level is overwhelming.)
Not to mention "draconian punishments." Smack the little bastards around; that'll teach 'em long division.
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  #13  
Old 25 December 2008, 04:58 PM
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A couple of things bug me about this anecdote as presented:

1) The teacher in question is having difficulty controlling her class, so her primary assumption is that the school must have furtively stuck her with a class full of learning-disabled students. Moreover, she apparently doesn't talk to anyone else (e.g., the principal. a supervisor, other teachers) about the issue; instead, her approach is to burglarize the principal's office to find evidence confirming her suspicions.

2) As an educator, she should surely know that there is not a standard correlation between IQ scores and behavior/learning abilities. High IQ students can have significant behavioral problems and/or may not learn well in traditional classroom settings, just as lower IQ students don't necessarily present significant behavioral problems and/or may fare well (to the best of their abilities) in traditional classroom settings. I would expect documentation that would not be off-limits to the teacher (such as the students' grades and teacher comments from previous classes) to be much more relevant to this situation.
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  #14  
Old 27 December 2008, 07:50 PM
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The variant I'd heard of this story was not that the kids were learning-disabled, but that they were simply "incorrigible thugs" and that the school couldn't keep a teacher in that class for more than a few days before they would resign out of fear for their lives. The teacher who turned everything around - based on mistaking the locker numbers for IQ's - was a "little old lady near retirement" who told the boys that she "wasn't afraid of them because she cared about them".
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  #15  
Old 29 December 2008, 11:28 AM
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Crius of CoH Crius of CoH is offline
 
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Not that I was much of a whiz at math, but junior year in high school - Trigonometry - was particularly bad: the teacher was undergoing chemo, and most days came to class (first class of the day, too) exhausted and confused from the drugs, physically and mentally unable to teach. I doubt that even with an excellent teacher I would have done very well, but I really learned nothing from that class. I felt sorry for the teacher; I have to assume his financial problems forced him to continue "teaching" when he most certainly was not able to, but except for a few self-starting math whizzes, most of that class missed out on a lot of trig. It was a bad year.
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