Shocked, shocked, shocked
I am shocked, shocked, shocked to learn that “School grades reflect wealth” (N&O, Feb. 6). There is an even stronger correlation with race. Because of this, it is unfair to compare school performance using average test scores.
In 1990 my then-graduate student Valerie Williams and I were responsible for the methodology of the State Report Card. Because the purpose was to compare schools rather than students, we felt that each school should be represented as though the school demographics were identical. This meant adjusting for socioeconomic level and other relevant measures. The best measure was percentage of nonwhite. Percentage of free lunch was somewhat less relevant.
Two indices were presented for each school: actual performance and performance relative to a hypothetical school with the same demographics. A predominately African-American school might perform poorly but perform well, taking into account its demographics. Unfortunately, a policy decision was made to eliminate “nonwhite” in 1991 because of the view that this reflected differential expectations for African-American students and white students.
This was certainly “political correctness” gone amok and was grossly unfair to predominately African-American schools. This unfairness continues to this day.
Elliot M. Cramer
Professor emeritus, Department of Psychology, UNC
The non-college bound
End-of-course tests do not come close to measuring what kids learn. They are developed by people who have not taught a class of anything for many years.
If you want to see what is going on at the Department of Public Instruction take a look at the people they send out when a school is below standard. Those people do not have a clue.
The fact is most of these D and F students will not do homework at home. The only way I ever got those kids (when I taught) to do homework was to make it a classroom assignment and even at that I would have to stay on some of them to get it done. But, they got it done. These kids get very little help at home which is another reason I made them do the work during my class time.
Education is geared toward the college-bound students and there is nothing wrong with that, but they also need to gear the curriculum toward those non-college bound students as well. Instead of making these kids take calculus they need to have a course in basic math with an emphasis on things that they will face when they are out in the real world. Things like reconciling a checkbook, or setting up a budget, etc. Everyday things that calculus will not teach them.
Program to be proud of
As I was swallowing a mouthful of bitterness after Duke lost yet another close football bowl game, I had an epiphany: How the heck did Duke football (football!) rise to the level of competing in back-to-back-to-back bowl games?
My parents graduated from Duke University in 1980, and my college sports allegiance was set before my birth in 1984. Of course, the only sport I really followed was men’s basketball. Through the Laettner shot, back-to-back championships and countless victories over UNC and Maryland (my college roommate was a huge Maryland fan), I have always loved being a Duke fan.
Football, on the other hand, is a much different story. My memories consist of two images: throwing pizza on the opposing team’s mascot as a young child and rushing the field to tear down the goal posts after Duke’s victory over Army in 1997. As for the rest, losses and disappointment, basically ignoring football in lieu of basketball.
Though Duke lost this recent game, it has cemented its place in my heart – a program to be proud of. I hope all fans remember how far they have come and how far they will go in the future.