The latest version of our school report cards will be released soon. This will undoubtedly be accompanied by the usual finger-pointing and teacher shaming. There will be calls to provide public funds for private schools that wouldn’t be subject to any formal accountability.
The report card structure is rigged. The passing scores for the “bubble tests” that drive it are 20 percent higher than in most of the country. Further, the grades are based on a kind of bell curve that guarantees that a certain number of schools will be “failing.”
Individual school grades will clearly reflect a strong correlation with the poverty level of a school. It’s not that economically disadvantaged students can’t learn. But these students need more resources and services than might be needed by their more affluent peers. The research is pretty clear on this. The political and educational leadership of our state should be focusing on funding the services needed for all students to achieve, regardless of socioeconomic level.
The services I am talking about are “wrap around” services. These services include extended-day and extended school-year tutoring, access to health care, and access to mental and behavioral health services.
Until our leaders realize that students living in poverty have greater needs than their more affluent peers, no progress will occur.
More grades and shaming won’t fix the real problems.
Dr. Frank E. Morgan
Hunter Hill Road