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January 28, 2013

Madison School district must solve problems no matter where they originate

Chris Rickert:

Madison learned last week that it might not be able to blame its long-standing achievement gap on outsiders, as a school district analysis of testing data throws cold some water on a theory making the rounds of some of Madison's opinion brokers.

Suggested by a previous district report and championed by Mayor Paul Soglin, the theory is that minority students are doing worse academically than their white peers because many of them have transferred in from other (presumably worse) districts.

Had they spent their whole careers in the (presumably better) Madison schools, goes the theory, they would be doing better.

Unfortunately for theory proponents, when controlling for demographic factors such as race and income, district number crunchers didn't find much difference between the test scores of students who grew up in the district and the scores of those who didn't.

The analysis suggests the achievement gap is a much more frightening, wholly owned subsidiary of the district; in other words, not something Madisonians can mentally file under "out of our control."

The question now is: Are we ready to believe it?

Related: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed...and not before (November, 2005).

Achievement gap exists for both longtime, new Madison students.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at January 28, 2013 2:47 AM
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