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[Susan notes: This issue of unfair methods of comparison needs to be stated frequently--and loudly.]

Published in Arizona Republic

To the editor

In last Sunday’s Republic, there was a celebration of Scottsdale’s Sequoya Elementary for being a “good” school due to high expectations and high test scores. And while it sounds like the teachers at this school do great work educating their students through interesting, innovative methods--a look at the school’s location and population quickly reveals a more disturbing revelation. This school, located in a higher socioeconomic area, has a population of only 4 percent English language learners and a mere 7 percent of its students are on free or reduced lunch.

Again, I mean no disrespect to the teachers and students at this school, but are we seriously supposed to compare their test scores to those with schools who work with children of poverty? Plenty of data shows us one thing: AIMS and Stanford 9 scores, when used in this way, show us little more than how wealthy a given school’s population is. Yet, we continue to use such unfair methods of comparison at the state and national level.

Further, those innovative, hands-on teaching methods aren’t available to many of the students in poorer areas because their schools are “underperforming.” These students learn from teachers who are often told to teach little more than test-preparation. So, our children in wealthier areas learn in novel ways, while our poorest learn through worksheet drills. What happened to no child being left behind?

For more information on this topic, please go to www.azsmart.org

John Scudder

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