I heard Diane Ravitch today. She clearly is a voice we should all listen to. In her comment she made is clear that poverty, segregation and the absence of resources are the real problems in American public schools. She also debunked the concept that America’s test scores are terrible. Below are her words from a seven minute NPR interview from a week ago.
The cause of the achievement gap is poverty and segregation, and an absence of resources. Wherever you find that toxic combination of high poverty and racial segregation, you will find low test scores. And so what’s happening today is that we – first, we have No Child Left Behind, which I believe is a failed policy. I mean, Secretary Duncan said it’s broken. It’s broken and it’s failed. We have many, many children left behind. They’re the same children who were left behind when the law was passed over 10 years ago.
But No Child Left Behind set an unreasonable goal. It said 100 percent of the children would be proficient, and then, when the 100 percent are not proficient, it’s unreasonable because no nation in the world has 100 percent of the children proficient.
We label those schools failing schools. We fire the teachers. We close the schools and then they’re set up for privatization. So I think this is a terrible process that has been set into motion that is doing tremendous damage to public education.
Millions of teachers understand it. Many superintendents and principals understand it. They know that testing is not going to close gaps, it’s simply going to reflect gaps.
The other thing you should know – and I think it’s really important in this conversation to say this. The NAEP scores – that is, the federal testing scores today – are the highest they’ve ever been in history.
The scores for white students, black students, Hispanic students and Asian students are the highest they’ve ever been since federal testing began 40 years ago. We also have the highest high school graduation rate in history for the people in the age group 18 to 24. We also have the lowest dropout rate in history for that age group, 18 to 24. Only eight percent of them don’t have a high school diploma.
She gets me thinking.