Some naive school reformers think all schools can receive high test scores because they believe all  kids have the same academic potential. This just isn’t true. Only 30% or so are capable of advanced academic work. As a result, all schools, public and private, fight over the best students. Kids with the most academic potential are creamed or siphoned off by other schools, or the parents themselves.

Below is a list of ways kids are creamed. I just learned of two additional ways of creaming: Require parents to do volunteer work or ask for extra money for special programs, uniforms, etc. Here is the old list.

  1. A wealthy neighborhood draws higher-achieving students at the expense of schools in moderate and poor income areas. (Parents not residing in a wealthy neighborhood can, and do, give fictitious residency addresses or find courses available in the top schools that are not available in their local school, triggering automatic enrollment).
  2. The opening of courses or schools that require parental vigilance will lead to creaming. An example is magnet schools.
  3. Any programs or schools with waiting lists create a selective population. Examples would include charter schools and fundamental schools.
  4. Programs requiring parent or student private transportation.
  5. Having the best teachers and courses because of insider information.
  6. The use of private tutors.
  7. Having parents who are active in the school, such as room mothers or PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) members.

Overt selection:

  1. Children in AP (advanced placement).
  2. Children in gifted classes.
  3. Children in gifted charter schools (These are public-private schools).
  4. Children in the International Baccalaureate Programs.
  5. Children admitted to college-prep courses based on achievement test scores. (Public school collegiate academies).
  6. Children admitted to collegiate high schools that promise a high school degree and two years of college credits –– all in only four years!