An earlier post linked to an article by Scott Waldman in the Albany Times-Union, in which Waldman pointed out that rankings accurately reflect the socioeconomic status of families in the schools, not the quality of the schools. He asked, what do those school rankings really demonstrate?

This letter came from a superintendent in the area of upstate New York about which Waldman wrote:


I am the superintendent of one of the high performing schools Waldman identified. He is, of course, absolutely accurate. The issue has always been poverty–urban, rural, and increasingly, suburban. It is easier and more expedient for politicians and naysayers in general, to attack schools–their costs, their teachers, their calendar, their curriculum–rather than address the root cause of the discrepancies–multi-generational systemic poverty. We have known about the impact of poverty on student achievement for hundreds of years. We have known how standardized test scores are skewed by zip code for years. Even the inventors of standardized testing (in the very early twentieth century) argued that they should be used judiciously because they are so sensitive to environment. I know an urban educator very well, who constantly states that it is not that his kids (grade five) can’t learn–indeed, they have already learned some skills about survival that are much more compelling than their ELA scores. The problem is that the things they have learned can not be reduced to a multiple choice test.