I often wonder how different it is to teach "higher-level" kids. Do they write on task all the time? Are they less disruptive? Are they smarter? They are certainly still children. They still would rather be hanging out with their friends than be in class. I can't imagine that they are fundamentally different they my crop of "lower-level" students.
Rather, I think these students have been conditioned to be successful. They've never been put in a room they perceive to be "the stupid class." They are surrounding by other kids who have kept their curiosity and also conditioned to succeed.
I like the idea floating around the English department of doing away with tracks. Right now, they're talking about keeping the honors level and then mixing everyone else together. I don't think that's ideal. The kids who can be the best example will, for the most part, still be removed to a little island. There will still be arguments made against kids moving up to the honors level. According to some chatter overheard in guidance, a kid in the lowest level ninth grade English class could never make it up to the Advanced Placement English class offered in twelfth grade. With such a system, where kids are registered for their English class in the spring of eighth grade, we say to students that what you do at thirteen will define your academic career.
Going from three tracks, to two, however, is definitely a step in the right direction. I remain very grateful for an administration that is open to change and focused on outcomes for kids.