I have homeschooled and homeschooling family members, and we all see how much more rapidly children can learn in the 1:1 (or even 1:3 or 4) environment, with materials at exactly their instructional level. My sister was surprised how much her not-very-academically-inclined daughter could get done in the one or two mornings they worked on "school" per week. When they came back from their sailing odyssey, my niece had to take a test to ensure she was ready for fifth grade (had been a low average kid in third). She aced it -- was ready for sixth grade! And my sister admitted she was closer to an "unschooler" than a "homeschooler" and got serious about schoolwork in fits and starts.How much time do pull-outs consume, I wonder - ?
Beyond that, although we think of the school day as 6 hours, it isn't 6 hours of instructional time in most places. My district's school day is 300 instructional minutes, although the actual time kids are in school is 8:30 to 3:00 -- six and a half hours. 50 minutes for lunch, 15 minutes each for morning and afternoon recess, and entry/dismissal times eat up that hour and a half, so we only have 5 hours of instruction, of which maybe 60% (if you're lucky) is dedicated to "the three R's." There are many interruptions -- PA announcements, assemblies, fund raising events. Students also have music, gym, library, art, science, social studies and health -- all important, too. The science and social studies are often incorporated into the literacy and math by very good teachers, but doing this well isn't easy, and the curriculum materials available are little help. Many teachers have to "write their own curriculum" because they don't have materials ready to hand. What a waste of time!
Then there's the whole issue of so many levels in one classroom. This means that inevitably some students' needs will be overlooked. My district is firmly committed to "differentiating instruction" and "full inclusion" of all but the most violent students, but they do not put their money where their mouth is. Every time I get the opportunity, I suggest to the higher-ups: WHY doesn't the district commission a cadre of experienced teachers/curriculum experts to produce units for different grade levels that match the curriculum and have differentiated reading materials, problems, activities and assessments? For example, a unit on explorers for fifth grade could have reading material from a first to a seventh grade level, map work, project topics and materials for kids from the very beginning level (they could learn the continents and make a globe model, for example) to challenge activities for the high achievers. They could have these for every major curriculum unit, and sell them to other districts and make money. Why are teachers having to write their own curriculum for 6 different grade levels in multiple subjects? It absolutely doesn't work. No wonder they use foldables.
So five hours of instructional time quickly gets whittled down. In classrooms with many levels, the actual teaching time at the student's level for those at the extreme ends of the spectrum (true for the gifted AND the very challenged) is only 1 or 2 % of the time available. No wonder that studies have found that students with the lowest level of reading skill read only about two or three minutes a day. Yikes!