[Susan notes: Yes! We must say it again and again: Poverty. Poverty. Poverty. It's not an excuse; it's an ugly reality.]
To the editor
The media has learned nothing from the extensive research done on international test scores in the last decade ( U.S. Students Get Stuck in Middle of the Pack on OECD Test, December 3). Study after study shows that the strongest predictor of high scores on these tests is poverty, a conclusion that is backed by a number of other studies showing that students who live in poverty have poor diets, insufficent health care, and lack access to books, all of which contribute to low academic performance. When researchers control for the effect of poverty, the US ranks near the top of the world.
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