SEE A TREND?: Chart from Ohio analysis of school district grades versus income in the districts.

Same song, new verse: A Cleveland journalist, Rich Exner, has matched up Census data on family income and education with the single-grade score given Ohio schools (a grading system Arkansas has implemented).

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Surprise. The grades closely track family income and parents’ education. The higher the income and education, the higher the school grades.

Don’t tell it to the Arkansas legislature or Arkansas Education Department or the Billionaire Boys Club, all busy privatizing public schools through charters and voucher.  They know better. If it weren’t for the slacker union teachers, for example, all the impoverished students in Little Rock would be making straight As.

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Here’s some sharp comment on the Ohio report from a good education blog, Curmudgucation:

…a letter grade makes a nice way to hide the fact that you are grading an entire school based on a single standardized test of reading and math. If you just published the school’s average or aggregate score, the public would shrug and say, “Okay, that’s one piece of data and I’m not even sure I much care.” So we have to dress that score up with a name or designation or, hey, a grade, to make it seem like that single test score is somehow indicative of bigger things, or even to give the impression that the score has been enhanced by all sorts of other measures.

For another, I can’t help noticing that school grade states tend to be states like Ohio and Florida, where there are all sorts of folks chomping at the bit to open some non-public schools and hoover up some of those sweet, sweet tax dollars [see Arkansas]. Only to drive the market away from the public schools and into the waiting arms of charters and voucher schools, you need a way to point at certain public schools and say loudly, “Look! That school is failing. Faaaaiiiiling!! You had better run away! Run away!!” Letter grades for schools are a great way to do that.

Here’s a reminder that we’ve published some similar analysis in Arkansas.  Particularly unfair is how the state’s financial reward system for schools disproportionately favors the haves over the have-nots.

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And while we’re at it, here’s a link to a long list of articles about testing shortcomings from around the country.