A friend sent the newsletter of the National Superintendents Roundtable. It contains more relevant words of wisdom as the Asa Faubus administration rushes to judge the Little Rock School District a “failure” so that it may be parceled out to the mercy of his failed Education Department and a district segregated into prosperous neighborhoods with some influence on their schools and poor ones with none.

There are ample sources to illustrate the points below, but the message is worth remembering next week, when a political group, the state Board of Education, will assess “failure” by results from a single four-hour test (“the iron cage of quantification” as one Roundtable writer put it). The test isn’t aligned with the curriculum and we are the only state using it, a result of political influence from the highest level (why, you have to wonder):

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Give Public Schools an Honest Grade

Over recent decades, public education has existed in an echo chamber alleging school failure. Educators have had difficulty developing an appropriate response to this criticism. It’s time we stood up and talked back.

 

High school graduation rates have skyrocketed since the 1970s, while every major racial and ethnic group today is scoring higher on NAEP results than it was in the 1970s. And research is clear: out-of-school issues such as poverty and homelessness account for 60-80% of achievement outcomes.

 

There’s a significant unfinished agenda, to be sure. Outcomes for students of color and those with disabilities greatly need improvement. An honest grade acknowledges that reality, while also pointing to the notable successes of public education over the decades:

 

Public schools have done a remarkable job raising education levels of the entire U.S. population.

 

Student achievement is higher today than it was in the 1970s for every major racial and ethnic group.

 

Dealing with the unfinished agenda will require policymakers to take up the out-of-school factors influencing achievement, including high levels of student poverty and meager support for families.

An infographic making these points dramatically has been developed by the Roundtable and the Horace Mann League. (See at top)