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[Susan notes: I don't send a letter like this with any hopes of it getting published. I send it in hopes that some staffer will pause and reflect for three seconds.

I wish I'd included the information that "The world they live in" includes the fact that 79% of students at Berea High School participate in free and reduced lunch. I wonder if the reason NAEP isn't mentioned by name but is referred to as "the most recent evaluation of 12th graders on a national test of reading and math" because the reporter is aware of how questionable NAEP rankings are. It seems more than a little disingenuous to use NAEP results without crediting the source.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

Re: As Graduation Rates Rise, Experts Fear Diplomas Come Up Short, Motoko Rich, December 26, 2015. I read all this blather about what kind of career readiness a high school diploma must provide and wonder who's fooling whom.

For starters, researchers have long pointed out that NAEP proficiency levels are way out of whack. NAEP warnings have been issued by the U. S. Government Accounting Office, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and a host of individual researchers.

Let's not ignore the important information a high school diploma offers: Evidence that some 30 teachers or more attest that a student passed through four years of school with acceptable standing is no small accomplishment. What happens next is up to the students and the world they live in. We need to stop blaming schools and look closely at the shortcomings of that world.

Decades ago I carried a Masters Degree in medieval literature in my job-hunting resume--and landed a minimum-wage job at a New York City advertising agency only because I could type 85 words a minute.

Susan Ohanian

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