by Max Brantley
Read this. It's about the removal of an extraordinary Vermont school principal, her job traded for federal dollars. She led a school populated almost exclusively by poor students, special ed students and transient and immigrant students. She achieved much, but the school's overall test scores, predictably for a school population of this sort, are below average. The school district's choice was to keep her or take federal dollars.
This sort of thing is replicated everywhere in the U.S. Not every school with low scores has such a committed principal, of course, and many require drastic restructuring. But, one more time: It is folly to assess a school disproportionately populated by at-risk kids solely on average test scores, particularly in comparison with schools with much more favorable student populations. It is a favorite tactic of the charter school cheerleaders in LR, notably the D-G editorial page, and it is simply dishonest.