Pamela Blizzard: Find a way to educate all

October 17, 2013 

I appreciate the sentiment in Pamela Grundy’s Oct. 12 Point of View piece “How grading fails our schools.” No one wants to see an F or a D-minus like a scarlet letter emblazoned on the front door of their school.

In our new charter school, Research Triangle High School, we have no idea whether we will have an F or an A this November, while we do know how hard everyone in the building worked to ensure every student learned math and biology thoroughly, to more than pass their exams. But the work she protests – of pointing out schools that are failing the least advantaged – has to be done.

The total of 58 percent of disadvantaged students passing End of Grade exams is not good enough. EOGs have a very low “cut score” to pass – often just a 9th to 17th percentile qualifies as passing. Even just passing is not good enough to be considered educated in America nor in the world today and does not prepare students for advancement into true college-prep or even career-prep high school courses. And for the 42 percent who do not pass, what is their future?

Yes, it is tough, relentless work to educate all of our students. Examples from the Northeast: Uncommon Schools and KIPP are hard, tough work to replicate. Yet accepting low scores because the children are “challenged” perpetuates their lack of education year after year. And when they reach high school – like Research Triangle High School, which enrolls a very broad spectrum of kids from high achieving to low, yet places them all in strong, college prep courses – and the students themselves have to face the gap between what they have learned and what the advantaged have learned, they stare squarely in the face of that scarlet letter, whether it has been named before or not. This is not a fair position for 14-year-olds.

We owe these students more, we have strong national examples of how to do more, and we as a nation need more for our future together. Let’s not hide from the reality of who we are not educating; let’s instead face it and do something about it.

Pamela Blizzard

Founder, Raleigh Charter High School, Research Triangle High School, Contemporary Science Center

Raleigh

The length limit was waived for a fuller response.

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