Childhood Poverty, Test Scores, and Mayor Coleman. – K. Griffin

Today (8/28/13) the Dispatch printed a letter I submitted last friday night.  The letter was in response to Mayor Michael Coleman’s harsh words about the Columbus Schools grades on the new state report cards, which many believe, myself included, is only to make schools look bad.

There is an overuse of controversial high-stakes standardized test scores on this report card of which our lowest charter schools are exempt.  (The lowest 25% of schools, but that’s a different story.)

After 15 years of “No Child Left Behind” there are 100s of studies that show that we can predict a student’s test score based on their zip code.  The higher the poverty rate, the lower the scores.  We didn’t need to spend millions on studies to figure that one out.

According to the United Nations Children Fund, the childhood poverty rate in the United States is over 20%, the highest of any other industrialized nation.  If another country kidnapped 100 of our school age children and kept them in the same conditions they are living in here in the US the public would be screaming for action.

My blaming of Mayor Coleman for having a city where 74% of the children qualify for free or reduced lunch wasn’t fair.  That was the point.  Blaming school districts for these misleading report cards based on unproven testing practices is also unfair.  Too bad the Mayor didn’t get that before he opened his trap.

On Thursday, Mayor Michael B. Coleman called Columbus Schools’ grades on the brand new school report card “disgraceful” and “not acceptable.” He did this even though he knew the new criteria is lowering the grades of all schools across Ohio, mostly because of an overuse of controversial standardized-test scores. How would the mayor perform on one of these tests?

According to the Ohio Department of Education, in the 2001-2002 school year Columbus Schools had 57.6 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch. In the 2011-2012 school year, a full decade later, that percentage had risen to 74.2 percent.

This means that for a family of four the household income is below $41,348. This 16 percent increase is not the fault of Columbus Schools. This occurred on Coleman’s watch. Perhaps the mayor’s office needs to be reformed.

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About dublinea
President - Dublin Educators' Association

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