First Grade the new 3rd?? - Page 2
We don't use percentage grading at our school, and I don't think that the kids feel heavy pressure.
That being said, I don't think first grade is the new third at all, at least where I live. If anything, by the time they get to third, the expectations seem fairly low, and the curriculum is boring.
To be honest, I doesn't sound like too many words. 15 words over the course of an entire week doesn't sound too bad. My oldest is homeschooled now but she was in a parochial school before Christmas break. She had 20 required words plus 5 bonus words. It was an academic task to complete every evening along with the other homework but I didn't have a problem with it. Kids should be challenged, if all the school work and homework was simple to complete and easy the kids wouldn't be learning much.
They were also split into several reading level groups. DD was in the advanced group so she would leave the classroom with couple other kids and do extra work with a volunteer retired librarian every day while the other kids were doing grade level work. I shudder to think of how incredibly bored she would have been if the entire class was doing the same reading work at the same time.
I'm thinking now about when I was in Kindergarten (at a parochial school). It was the late '80's and we had either five or six reading groups. Everyone was color coded. Reading groups are not a new thing, they've been around for a long time.
IMO, ability groups for reading are more important the younger the children are. Some first graders are only reading a few words and working on letter sounds while some are reading chapter books. That's a big range. Plus, even the very advanced kids are likely unable to teach themselves much where as in, say, the the fifth grade students who are advanced can work ahead.
DD's first grade homeschooling curriculum has 20 spelling words each week but no bonus words. Each week's lesson is a one page introduction, three full pages of work, and a test.
Maybe you could work with the teacher on coming up with spelling work she has an easier time with? If she is learning disabled I wonder if the school would require the teacher to work with her?