By Marlene Kern Fischer of Thoughts From Aisle Four
One local school district has decided to use prenatal ultrasounds to determine appropriate future placement for students, a shift from previous guidelines which delayed pigeonholing a child until they were at least 8 to 10 years of age. The change in policy was, in part, an attempt to improve the district’s academic standing as well as boost its success in placing its graduates in Ivy league and other top tier schools.
Having decided, after extensive internet research, that elementary school was too late to start labeling children and narrowing their choices in life, the local administration has begun a pilot program to assess various aspects of ultrasounds during the mother’s third trimester to determine whether the child would be considered “gifted,” “average,” or “remedial” and then plan his or her academic career accordingly.
According to administrators, the move would both eliminate unnecessary and costly testing later, as well as the clerical burden of changing a student’s schedule. In addition, they would be reducing potentially emotional personal contact with stressed, concerned, and upset parents and the possibility of additional academic counseling for the student.
The superintendent of the district said there were people on the school board who had suggested considering data from second trimester ultrasounds, in addition to those from later in the pregnancy, to help them determine a child’s intelligence and capabilities.
However, the superintendent rejected the recommendation, rhetorically asking, “How can we possibly measure a child’s full potential before they have been gestating for at least 28 weeks?” The superintendent continued on to say that, “By deciding placement before a child is actually born, we will be able to budget, hire teachers, and create curriculum well in advance, which can only be beneficial for our students. And, of course, we are ultimately hoping to increase our acceptance rates to Harvard, Yale, etc.”
When asked whether a student could be reevaluated at a later time if it seemed he or she had not been placed correctly, another administrator said he was dismayed by the suggestion, stating, “Absolutely not. We feel very strongly that our students finish out their academic career based on what we deem appropriate, not whether the work is too easy or too challenging or if their interests deviate from our long range plans for them. Tracking cannot be modified. It would be a disaster. We know what’s best for them.”
The district was hoping their pilot program would become a model for other districts and felt certain they would be viewed as leaders and innovators by school districts throughout the country and even world.
About the Author
Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mother of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire, lifelong writer, blogger and college essay editor. She graduated cum laude from Brandeis University with a degree in literature. Her work has been featured on CollegiateParent, Kveller, Grown and Flown, the Erma Bombeck Writers’s Workshop, Her View From Home, Beyond Your Blog and Better After 50. You can read more of her work on her blog: Thoughts From Aisle Four.