What you should have paid attention to in article about grad rates

To the editor:

The March 21 Newton Daily News had an education article about graduation rates in Iowa, which are up. Two very important quotes in the article should not be overlooked. 

Lynnville-Sully Superintendent Ehresman talked about how the parents and staff work together to support students to improve their achievement results. 

This is the basis of the 2004 Manhattan Institute report on teachability. Schools cited in this report do exactly this same type of support and they find almost no achievement gaps. The recent OECD report, showing the same results in the countries out-educating us, also show that the students U.S. educators believe have lower expectations for achieving are actually the ones out-educating us in global standards.

What this means is that the statistics and reports supposedly justifying educator belief in lower expectations for achievement for some students is actually cultural bias. Schools such as Lynnville-Sully (and others across the country) prove no achievement gaps exist when all students receive the support and higher expectations they need to achieve results.

The second important quote from the article is the one from Brad Buck, Iowa Education Director, when he said the next step is to improve achievement. 

Remember that Iowa remains at the 41st national percentile in student achievement 13 years after NCLB said schools should be at the 65th national percentile, which is grade level.

Iowa was the last state to set standards for achievement (eight years after NCLB), and has not been granted an extension of time to achieve grade level because its educators refuse to accept accountability for student achievement. This means seniors graduating this spring (thirteen years after NCLB) are behind grade level. 

Iowa ranks in the bottom one-third nationally in a country that ranks in the bottom one-third internationally in student achievement. This fails to prepare students for global competition.

Stopping the bias, getting concepts back into the curriculum, and learning how to effectively teach the concepts are the factors being used to set global standards. 

The longer schools put off doing this, the more they jeopardize the future of students in the global marketplace. 

This is not a question of money, since only one country spends more per student than the U.S. This is a matter of effectively using resources.

Sue Atkinson

Baxter