"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mindless Jay Mathews Declares DC Achievement Gap Mindless Measure

The D.C. mayoral race is deeply split on most issues, but everyone agrees on one thing: We must reduce the achievement gap between minority and white students. It is too bad, then, that that the gap is such a mindless measure of school progress.
Obviously, Jay has joined other bold reformers such as the recently-fired Bret Schundler of New Jersey whose efforts to remake New Jersey schools in the corporate image led him to denounce New Jersey Public Schools as a “wretched system” and the state’s #1 national rankings on the NAEP in both 4th and 8th grade reading and math as “irrelevant.”  For bold reformers like Jay and Bret, or Arne and Michelle, if the facts don’t support your desired results anymore, those facts no longer matter. Poof.

Jay and the the new generation of reformers doing the same thing as the last generation (when will they become the status quo?) would rather look at test score growth over time, especially when big achievement gap closing claims by your favorite politicians do not materialize.  Focusing on individual gains makes the disparity between the haves and the have nots much easier to ignore, since this new value-added universe is not even interested in those troublesome group comparisons any longer that are based on poverty chasm.  Unless, of course, the reformers need to shut down your neighborhood school and turn it into a corporate-styled testing madrasah, i. e., charter school.  Then your percentile ranking becomes a crucial tool in deciding who is in that bottom five percent that just keeps replenishing itself as the last group is scraped off to become charterized.

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