Advances in neuroscience have led to a significant change in how teachers deal with students. Traditionally, teachers assumed that each student had a natural set of aptitudes and abilities, one born from the proverbial ‘potential’ which could be maximized by proper education.
However, advances in brain imaging along with other related sciences have shown that while the majority of people have similar neuro-anatomical profiles, there are certain key differences between individuals among even identical twins. The most striking of these differences is found in the development of neural connections across an individual’s life, which shape their experience and perception.
It was previously believed that each person was born with a talent for music or mathematics or languages based on their innate potential it was not until brain science began to map the neural circuitry of different people that it was determined that while varied, all humans possess similar potentials which can be limited by the way in which experience shapes their brains.
Facilitating learning through neuroscience meant creating an educational system designed to stimulate certain parts of a person’s brain while suppressing others. This required dividing learners into discrete categories based on aptitude and ability rather than age or grade level .
This article will examine three major types of Instructional Systems used in our schools, discuss its implications for student achievement, and present how one school is implementing changes to maximize the efficiency of each method.
When students enter a school, they are assigned to one of five instructional systems:
Traditional Instructional System – the student is assigned based on teacher experience and credentials. The classroom can be heterogeneous or homogeneous.
Standardized Instructional System – the student is mostly likely assigned by an algorithm taking socioeconomic status into account as well as previous standardized test scores. The classroom will not reflect any heterogeneity. Examples include No Child Left Behind Legislation in the 90’s under Clinton, and other education acts passed after it.
School Achievement programs within neighborhoods – This system is used in countries outside of America such as Sweden where it has proven highly successful because it allows children immediate access to the resources required to learn and excel (such as other children their age, computers, supplies, and teachers) but allows them to stay within the confines of a familiar environment if they need to. This is important for students with disabilities or for those who feel more comfortable within their own neighborhoods because it will increase self-esteem and performance.
School Choice / Voucher Systems – Students cast votes for schools their parents select them to attend through a government voucher system which could either cover part or all of tuition costs at that school or simply give them permission to choose their own school. Examples include a voucher system in Cleveland, Ohio and the recent Zelman v. Simmons-Harris Supreme Court case which stated school vouchers do not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
School Choice / Charter Schools – Similar to School choice systems but instead of students voting on schools (with parents casting proxy votes), students are free to choose which school they would like to attend with or without their families permission and will be assigned based on academic performance and class rank/size preference of that particular school.” School Achievement – The student is placed in an Intensive Educational Program within his own neighborhood, where he will receive specialized Education from Teacher’s Aides and possibly Teachers as well. He can remain at this level until he is unable to function at all within this system.
The most effective Assignment System for students with special needs is School Choice / Charter Schools, because it best matches the goals of public education. It allows parents to choose which school they want their child to attend based on its proximity, class size preference, and academic performance, but does not allow them to select a private or religious school. This method also results in greater socioeconomic diversity than Traditional Instructional Systems or Standardized Instructional Systems, as well as increased homogeneity than Traditional Instructional Systems (which can result in singling out students with disabilities due to cultural differences). Another benefit of School choice systems are that they motivate teachers more so than other methods because allows them to excel by being assigned students with ability levels similar to their own (and the students will also excel, if they are motivated to do so) and can be fired for poor student performance.
School Choice / Charter schools allow the best possible education because it allows students, parents, and teachers to choose which school works best for them without excluding any group of people (parents could pick a school that caters specifically to special needs children, disabled children would be more likely to be identified early on by their grade level peers in smaller classroom settings creating increased opportunity for learning). It also encourages teachers to perform better because it increases their job security and allows them to excel by teaching similar students. And finally, School choice / Charter schools provide the best motivation for students because it is based on their own desires. It allows parents to choose which school works best for them while still living within the same district so that the student doesn’t get isolated due to different cultural values or language barriers.
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