School administrators should end their obsession with average test scores and focus instead on an absolute standard: Can each child actually read?
For more than two decades now, the Seattle school district has been telling us that its most important goal is “closing the achievement gap.” Nevertheless, it is not unfair to say that only incremental progress has been made.
Seattle, as everyone knows, is not alone. “Closing the achievement gap” has come to stand for the perennial problems of American K-12 education — though the inability of high schools to graduate more than two-thirds of their students has been running a close second.
Among the results of this frustratingly persistent problem is a vast, energetic industry of school reform, headlined in recent years by the involvement of powerful private foundations and the policy directives of the federal government: “No Child Left Behind” in the “Race to the Top.”