Sent to the LA Times, November 15.
"How to grade public schools" (Nov, 14) calls for better measures of school quality, which suggests American schools are inadequate and need to improve drastically.
There is nothing seriously wrong with American schools: Our students do very well on international tests when the effect of poverty is controlled.
In numerous polls, people rate their local schools much more positively than American schools in general: In one poll, 75% of parents gave schools their oldest child attended grades of A or B, indicating reasonable satisfaction with local schools. Only 20% gave all American schools these grades.
Gerald Bracey explained why this happens: People think schools are much worse than they are because of unsupported negative statements about schools by politicians and idealogues consistently reported in the media.
Excessive investment in measuring school quality means less investment in solving the real problem: child poverty, now at the astonishing level of 23%.
Controf for effect of poverty:
Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).
In one poll: Phi Delta Kappan/ Gallup poll (Phi Delta Kappan, September 2009)
Gerald Bracey, "Experience outweighs rhetoric" (Phi Delta Kappan, September 2009)