Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 20
Letters to the Editor
Reading Program Reaps Rewards
To the Editor:
Education Week reports that the American
Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy
report pushing for greater early-childhoodeducation advocacy by its members
("Pediatricians Urged to Get Involved With
Early-Childhood Education," Early Years
blog, www.edweek.org, Aug. 11, 2017). Both
Education Week and the policy report itself
note that cost is a significant problem.
There's one program with consistently
positive effects that costs relatively little:
Reach Out and Read. The core of the
program is reading aloud to children in
doctors' offices. There is overwhelming
evidence showing that read-alouds are
beneficial: Children who are read to
regularly consistently do better on tests
of vocabulary, grammar, and listening
comprehension, and read-alouds do an
excellent job of stimulating interest in
Reach Out and Read makes books
available and informs parents of the
value and pleasure of reading aloud.
The intervention is modest: While in
waiting rooms for well-child pediatrician's
appointments, medical staff members
show parents reading activities they can
do with their children. Staff members and
the physician also discuss the importance
of reading. The families receive free books
at each doctor visit. Reach Out and Read
is aimed at lower-income groups that have
little access to books and thus typically
score considerably lower than average on
vocabulary tests. Studies show that children
participating in these programs make
excellent gains in vocabulary.
In one three-year study, subjects had
an average of only three well-child
appointments in which their doctors
discussed books, and they received an
average of four books. Nevertheless, the
children did far better than comparison
children on vocabulary tests, scoring closer
to middle-class norms.
Professor Emeritus of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.
Four-Day Week Has Real Benefits
To the Editor:
I read with vested interest Paul Hill's essay
on the four-day week ("Beware the Four-Day
School-Week Trap," July 19, 2017). While his
points are valid, he misses several reasons
why rural school districts are opting for only
teaching four days.
The Lincoln County school district, where
I am a principal, switched to a four-day week
in the 2009-10 school year. The author was
correct in some regards. Paraprofessionals
received fewer hours and lunch wasn't served
on Fridays, among other issues. The financial
savings have been not as significant as we
Where we have seen the bigger savings is in
substitute teachers, as we now encourage our
teachers to schedule doctor's visits and other
appointments on Fridays, when school is not
The biggest advantage, however, can't be
measured just in dollars: Athletics had a
major impact on our rural district during a
five-day week. When students have games
on Fridays and have to travel distances, they
must miss school and so must some of their
teachers. Our nearest competitor, for example,
is two hours away. With three sports in every
season, it is often difficult to find substitutes
on Fridays. In a school where there are only
a couple hundred students, half of whom
participate in athletics, there may only be 100
students in the school on any given game day.
Those students often receive only busywork
or watch a movie in class. Education is simply
not happening. To that end, many students
don't even come to school. Where are they?
Heaven only knows. Parents, who see the day
as a waste, often excuse them.
If sports are scheduled only on Fridays
when school is not in session, however, it cuts
down on the call for substitute teachers and
wasted class time.
Since switching over to a four-day school
week, scores on standardized tests have not
gone down in our district. But to be fair, they
also haven't improved.
C. Pete Peterson
Panaca Elementary School
READERS REACT | OPINION
Have SAT Accommodations Really Gone Too Far?
In years past, students with disabilities and their parents have expressed frustration
at a testing system that often rejected requests for accommodations on the SAT and
other College Board tests. Now, under a new policy, the College Board will
automatically approve SAT accommodation requests for students who already
qualify for certain other testing accommodations. Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, the
author of the Aug. 26, Commentary "Is the SAT Still Valid?," argues that this move
blurs the line between test accommodation and modification. Freedman contends that
the most sought-after accommodation-more time-challenges the validity of a
standardized test based on time constraints. And, she writes, the process for students
to receive accommodations is not equitable across school districts.
Many readers, including SAT tutors, students, and parents, took to the comments to
respond. Students with disabilities are at a disadvantage if they don't receive extra
time, some readers noted. Other commenters argued that all students, regardless of
ability, should not receive accommodations, as exams post-high school will not be
modified to meet their needs.
To read the full Commentary and more reader responses, please visit:
The question becomes-what is the
SAT designed to measure? Students
who get more time are not taking an
'easier' test. The test is the same. If
it takes them longer to demonstrate
what they know, they still know it.
Part of the problem with a time-limited test is that the scoring isn't actually showing only what the student
knows-it is also scoring how quickly
they can spit out that knowledge. Is
that actually predictive of how successful they will be in college and beyond?"
-MARY G MCINTYRE
"In my district, 504's and many accommodations included in IEPs are
given away for the asking. Seriously.
Parents ask for, let's say, a modified
grading scale, and they get it with no
further discussion. Extended time and
modified tests are treated as a given.
"In April, I took the SAT without
accommodation. I could not finish
the test. Not because I was not smart
enough, but because I have a disability. My dyslexia keeps me from reading at the same pace as other readers.
Why should I be punished for a disability that I was born with (and was
tested for by the state)? The College
Board decided that to even the playing field for me, 50 percent more time
would allow me to take the test at the
same speed as a student without a
20 | EDUCATION WEEK | September 6, 2017 | www.edweek.org/go/commentary
"How far does this go? LSAT, GMAT,
MCAT exams? Professional license tests?
State medical licensing boards? Driver's
license exams? Ph.D. defenses? Civil
service exams? Police promotion exams?
'Yes, you get extra time.' (Meanwhile the
patient died.) 'But don't worry, your IEP
will get your malpractice suit judgement
"Yes, getting extra time is helpful for
most students, but it's not the unmitigated boon you would think. ... Given the
extended time, students often reconsider
answers and change them to the wrong
one. Possibly the bigger issue is that most
students who have extended time still
need to complete the test on one day, in
one sitting. Asking students with learning disabilities to sit and focus on a test
for 6+ hours sometimes outweighs the
benefit they get from 'extended time.' "
"College Board and ACT each need
to set up a database for students receiving accommodations and track
their performance in postsecondary
institutions. In two years, we should
have sufficient data to know if the
accommodations result in less accurate predictions of college success.
If so, then the validity has been reduced, and the accommodations policy
should be revisited. If not, then the
accommodations should be allowed."
-COMPILED BY HANNAH SARISOHN
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 6, 2017
Education Week - September 6, 2017
Teachers Carve Out a Place in the Curriculum For LGBT History
Learning to Teach Via Virtual Reality
Rule Targets District Bias In Spec. Ed.
Hurricane Takes Heavy Toll on Schools
News in Brief
State Educational-Leadership Initiatives In Budget ‘Pickle’
New Tool Alerts Teachers When Students Give Up on Test
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Mobile Devices Put Education In Hands of Syrian Refugees
LGBT Curricula Spreads Slowly
Tweaking School Turnarounds
After Fierce Fight, Illinois Enacts Tax-Credit Scholarship Program
President’s Youngest Son Joins Back-to-School Crowd
Sarah M. Stitzlein: How to Define Public Schooling in the Age of Choice?
Q&A With Jack Schneider: What Makes a School Good? It’s More Than Test Scores
READERS REACT: Have SAT Accommodations Really Gone Too Far?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Chris Elmendorf & Darien Shanske: We Need Better Education Data
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - Hurricane Takes Heavy Toll on Schools
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 2
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 3
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - News in Brief
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 5
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - State Educational-Leadership Initiatives In Budget ‘Pickle’
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - New Tool Alerts Teachers When Students Give Up on Test
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Mobile Devices Put Education In Hands of Syrian Refugees
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 9
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 10
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 11
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 12
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 13
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - LGBT Curricula Spreads Slowly
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 15
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - After Fierce Fight, Illinois Enacts Tax-Credit Scholarship Program
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - President’s Youngest Son Joins Back-to-School Crowd
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - Sarah M. Stitzlein: How to Define Public Schooling in the Age of Choice?
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - Q&A With Jack Schneider: What Makes a School Good? It’s More Than Test Scores
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - Letters
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 21
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - 23
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - Chris Elmendorf & Darien Shanske: We Need Better Education Data
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - CW1
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - CW2
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - CW3
Education Week - September 6, 2017 - CW4