Are schools illegally discriminating based on age?

A strange synergy of ideas occurred today.

Multiple folks from different venues stressed the importance of teaching kids based on their abilities and individual development rather than their chronological age and associated grade level.

(1) USA Today describes how schools in some states are grouping students by skill and not grade level.

(2) Scientist Aimee Yermish, of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development,  stresses that "gifted kids often develop asynchronously" so they can be far ahead in particular subjects but lag far behind in other skill sets, especially those that utilize executive functioning.  I would argue that most kids have areas in which they excel in more than others. So this means students would need to be grouped differently depending on subject matter or skill sets.

(3) In his email newsletter, Larry Shiller, of Montessori style ShillerMath curriculum says "Age discrimination is illegal; why permit and encourage it in our public schools? Grade levels are ingrained in our thinking about school. But should they be? They haven't always been. The one-room schoolhouse didn't have grades but it did have students who learned how to mentor and be mentored, and it didn't have students (and parents) who felt constant pressure to conform learning to age instead of capability... Bureaucrats invented grades to make their life easier in administering schools. The result? Cookie-cutter curricula, groupthink, age discrimination, and generally lousy education, all despite the best efforts of parents, teachers, and yes, even the government. Schools do need to be administered and so we do need bureaucrats. But the bureaucrats we need are those who implement structure and policy designed to help each student reach his or her own potential. And as most Montessori schools demonstrate, that means doing away with grade levels and putting the focus of school energy and resources on students and teachers."


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