Education Week - October 24, 2012 - (Page 26)

26 EDUCATION WEEK n OCTOBER 24, 2012 n LETTERS to the EDITOR Commentary Misleading On NAEP, Dropouts To the Editor: The recent Commentary “Public Schools: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?” (Oct. 10, 2012), provides a problematic view of education progress that can easily backfire. The authors fail to show and discuss the statistically flat performance in both reading and mathematics in the long-termtrend National Asssessment of Educational Progress for students at age 17, and use a clever graphic to hide nearly flat reading performance for students ages 9 and 13. The real message of the long-term-trend naep is that the gains made in lower grades do not survive until high school graduation. This serious problem worries many. The authors’ high school dropout claims are also problematic. Many researchers of high school completion distrust dropout-rate figures. This was one of the reasons why Congress elected to use high school graduation rates in the No Child Left Behind Act. In addition, the specific dropout data selected by the authors—the National Center for Education Statistics’ “status dropout rate”— treats dropouts who later receive a General Educational Development credential as high school successes. Inclusion of ged recipients with regular high school diploma graduates further muddies the water as far as assessing the real performance of school systems. At present, the most reliable measure of high school completion is the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate, or afgr. Table 111 in the 2011 edition of the Digest of Education Statistics shows the U.S. public school afgr in 1969-1970 was 78.7 percent. In 2008-09, it was only 75.5 percent. Even the projected rate for 2009-10 is only 76.3 percent. Thus, the best available information on high school completion since 1970 shows that graduation rates actually are lower recently than in the early 1970s. None of this factual information does much to boost public confidence in schools, of course. And, educators citing problematic commentaries to try to claim otherwise won’t boost that confidence level, either. Richard Innes Staff Education Analyst Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions Bowling Green, Ky. Common Standards Are a ‘Living Work’ To the Editor: Educators at every level—from teachers and principals to chief state school officers—have become increasingly comfortable using evidence-based research data to make sound educational decisions to maximize student learning outcomes. The developers of the Common Core State Standards are no exception. On the introductory pages of the English/language arts, or ela, standards is this statement: “The standards are intended to be a living work: As new and better evidence emerges, the standards will be revised accordingly.” Interestingly enough, some “new and better evidence” about textcomplexity measures has emerged (“New Research Expands Thinking on Text Complexity,” Curriculum Matters blog,, Aug. 15, 2012). Specifically, a 2012 study conducted by Student Achievement Partners found that several other text-complexity measures clearly support the goals of ela text-complexity requirements: Renaissance Learning’s atos, the Educational Testing Service’s SourceRater, Pearson’s Reading Maturity, Questar Assessments’ Degrees of Reading Power, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test, and MetaMetrics’ Lexile. The study can be found on the Council of Chief State School Officers’ website. As a result of this “new and better evidence,” the commoncore authors have posted a supplement to Appendix A of their work (www.corestandards. org/resources) on new research on text-complexity grade bands for all of the reading measures, highlighting the ccsso’s 2010 acknowledgment of a “need for further research into textcomplexity measurement.” The supplement provides a much more inclusive list, allowing educators to use what they already have in place. There is no question that making changes to the common core must not be done impulsively; rather, it must be based on evidence-based research. To maintain the common language and common goals, the targets must be steady. At the same time, when independent, compelling scientific evidence emerges, the authors of the common core have proved the standards really are a “living work”—and have evolved accordingly. Alexa Posny Senior Vice President State and Federal Programs Renaissance Learning Madison, Wis. PRESIDENT & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Virginia B. Edwards EXECUTIVE EDITOR Gregory Chronister MANAGING EDITORS Karen Diegmueller, Kathleen Kennedy Manzo ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITORS Mark W. Bomster, Kevin C. Bushweller, Debra Viadero COMMENTARY EDITOR Elizabeth Rich DEPUTY COMMENTARY EDITOR Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily ASSISTANT EDITORS Sean Cavanagh, Catherine Gewertz, Michele McNeil, Erik W. Robelen, Stephen Sawchuk STAFF WRITERS Katie Ash, Alyson Klein, Lesli A. Maxwell, Ian Quillen, Christina A. Samuels, Nirvi Shah, Sarah D. Sparks, Jason Tomassini, Andrew Ujifusa, Jaclyn Zubrzycki CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Caralee Adams, Diette Courrégé, Michelle R. Davis, Nora Fleming, Michele Molnar, Julie Rasicot, Mark Walsh COMMENTARY ASSOCIATES Briana Boyington, Catherine A. Cardno EDITORIAL INTERNS Mike Bock, Nikhita Venugopal DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING, LIVE AND VIRTUAL EVENTS Matthew Cibellis EVENTS PROGRAMMING ASSOCIATE Anne Verghese EVENTS INTERN Elizabeth Amilcar DESIGN DIRECTOR Laura Baker DEPUTY DESIGN DIRECTOR Gina Tomko ASSISTANT DESIGN DIRECTOR Vanessa Solis DESIGNERS Linda H. Jurkowitz, Paula Salerno DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Charles Borst ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Nicole Frugé MANAGING EDITOR, ONLINE Kathleen Kennedy Manzo ONLINE CREATIVE DIRECTOR Cheri Hung ONLINE DESIGNER/PRODUCER Paul Franz ONLINE NEWS PRODUCTION MANAGER Stacey Hollenbeck ONLINE NEWS PRODUCERS Ross Brenneman, Megan Garner, Bryan Toporek ONLINE INTERNS Gina Cairney, Molly Martinez, Kimberly Shannon MANAGING EDITOR, Teacher Online Anthony Rebora ASSOCIATE EDITOR, Teacher Online Liana Heitin INTERN, Teacher Online Francesca Duffy CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER FOR DIGITAL OPERATIONS Paul Hyland WEB TECHNOLOGY INTERN Malcom Chitsa PUBLISHER & GENERAL MANAGER Michele J. Givens CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Jill N. Whitley ASSISTANT HR MANAGER Melissa McCurry ACCOUNTING MANAGER Haphen Muchapondwa ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE CLERK Lindsey Eggleston DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, Jeff Rupp ADVERTISING OPERATIONS MANAGER Shane Steinfeld SITE LICENSE SALES MANAGER Jennifer Bagley DIRECTORY PRODUCTS MANAGER Karen Hasher DIRECTORY SALES MANAGER Judi Squire DIRECTORY PRODUCTS INTERN Hannah Elovitz DIRECTOR OF AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Stefanie Hemmingson PRINT & ONLINE AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Jeson Jackson AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT INTERNS Lauren Williams, Dennis Zittier ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER, RECRUITMENT ADVERTISING Shirlanda Y. Braxton (301) 280-3111 RECRUITMENT CLIENT SERVICE MANAGERS Ferzine Esmail, Marla Scher DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION Jo Arnone ADVERTISING PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Casey Shellenberger ASSOCIATE ADVERTISING PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Kevin Kemp PRODUCTION INTERN Dana Gittings SYSTEMS MANAGER Hunter McCleary ASSISTANT SYSTEMS MANAGER Bill Moyer EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT Shaiy E. Knowles RECEPTIONIST Naomi Cohen ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER, DISPLAY ADVERTISING Sharon Makowka (815) 436-5149 REGIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGERS Guy Blumberg (917) 747-1351 Julie Fagan (301) 502-4300 Josh Ford (301) 280-3203 DIRECTOR, ADVERTISING Ben Delaney-Winn (781) 538-6076 ADVERTISING SALES ASSISTANT Rob Voigt Commentary writer David Bamat took a deeply personal look at matters of race and class by reflecting on the contrast between his life, which has included travel and graduate school, and that of an old elementary school friend he calls “J” (“Two Lives Diverged,” Oct. 10, 2012). J, who is black and grew up in public housing, has been in prison and fathered a child at age 22; at the same age, Bamat was graduating from college. Bamat, whose father is white and mother is Ecuadorian, was tracked into classes at higher levels than J’s as they grew older. “J’s chances of academic and professional success should’ve been as good as mine,” Bamat wrote. To read the full Commentary and additional responses, go to It is an interesting snapshot of the paths you and your friend traveled, but the message seems to imply that “white” people are to blame for the lack of success of people of other races and/or ethnicities. VETERAN TEACHER It’s not about blaming white people. It’s about the fact that most poor people don’t have access to the type of education and opportunity that even makes community college realistic, let alone something like a Ph.D. in physics, which requires above-average academic preparation and lots and lots of money. SHERRIE273 [T]he “no excuses” ideology that claims success is inherent in the child, not driven by the culture, is deeply challenged by this narrative. PLTHOMAS “ “ The author served as the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services from 2009 to 2012. FROM THE WEB Below are excerpts from readers’ online comments. As a society, we cannot afford to continue to throw away these children. If their parents cannot or will not do the job, the rest of us must step in to help. LINDA/RETIREDTEACHER ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER, SALES AND MARKETING Sean Herdman TOPSCHOOLJOBS PRODUCT MANAGER Jonathan Rogers MARKETING MANAGER Angela Morales MARKETING ASSOCIATE Amanda Glenn MARKETING INTERNS Trey Owens, Brittani Treadway TOPSCHOOLJOBS INTERNS Stephanie Feldman, Anne Lyons ON SCHOOL FRIENDS WHO FOLLOWED DIFFERENT PATHS I’m sure that many of us had a J in our lives. In my case, it was a G. Close friends in middle school, we grew apart in high school. He turned to drugs and never graduated as far as I know. MATH GUY VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT Christopher B. Swanson DIRECTOR, EDITORIAL PROJECTS IN EDUCATION RESEARCH CENTER Amy M. Hightower SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE Sterling C. Lloyd RESEARCH ASSOCIATE Carrie A. Matthews RESEARCH ANALYST Hannah Rose Sacks RESEARCH INTERNS Layla Bonnot, Sean Chalk, Christine Crain DIRECTOR, KNOWLEDGE SERVICES Rachael Delgado PROGRAM ASSOCIATE Tim Ebner DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Kim Nakashima LIBRARY DIRECTOR Kathryn Dorko LIBRARY INTERN Amy Wickner EDITORIAL & BUSINESS OFFICES: 6935 Arlington Road, Suite 100 Bethesda, MD 20814-5233 (301) 280-3100 Editorial FAX: (301) 280-3200 Business FAX: (301) 280-3250 Print or online subscription customer service: (800) 445-8250 Product or print purchase orders: Fax to (215) 788-6887 Article reprints: (800) 259-0470 Back issues are available at $3.00 each, except the January 12, 2012 (Quality Counts) issue at $10.00 each, and the March 15, 2012 (Technology Counts) and June 7, 2012 (Diplomas Count) issues at $6.00 each. Price includes postage and handling via the US Postal Service. Order online: backissues, or call 1-800-445-8250, or fax 215-788-6887. You may also send orders to: Education Week Back Issues, P.O. 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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 24, 2012

Education Week - October 24, 2012
‘Smart Pills’ Promising, Problematic
At S.C. School, Behavior Is One of the Basics
Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, if Tepid
Focus On: Curriculum: Calif. Laws Shift Gears on Algebra, Textbooks
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
‘Value Added’ Use at Secondary Level Questioned
National Board Seeks to Revive Impact on Profession
Industry & Innovation
Blogs of the Week
Debates Push Fate of NCLB Waivers to Fore
Policy Menu Varies in State School Board Elections
Policy Brief
The Election: Debating Education
Genevieve LaFleur & Scott Poland: Schools Can Be the Difference in Preventing Suicide
Kenneth Wesson: From STEM to ST2REAM: Reassembling Our Disaggregated Curriculum
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
Erica Frankenberg & Gary Orfield: Diversity or Resegregation? Why Suburban Schools Need a Plan

Education Week - October 24, 2012