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Blog of the Century Contributor Corey Bunje Bower writes that in last week's debate, Mitt Romney took credit for Massachusetts' position atop some education rankings. Yes, it's generally true that Massachusetts ranks at or near the top.  More specifically, the state has frequently had the highest average score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). But the more important question is why Massachusetts ranks so highly.  

Was it something that Romney did while Governor, or are there other factors at play? The second question is really quite easy to answer.  It's almost certainly something other than Romney's actions.  For two reasons:

1.) Children in Massachusetts earned really high test scores both before and after Romney was Governor.

2.) We know from decades of research that non-school factors influence achievement far more than in-school factors.  So it's exceedingly unlikely that a few state-level policy tweaks, implemented for a mere four years, could impact student performance dramatically enough to boost Massachusetts to the top of the nation.

Read more and see the data behind the claims.

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  •  Poverty is not necessarily the cause (0+ / 0-)

    of the income-related Achievement Gap. If all districts nationally, and all classrooms within districts, taught with the same methods and curriculum, and if the ONLY factor differentiating children's school experience were family income, one might have to reach that conclusion. But our schools teach differently from district to district and from classroom to classroom within districts.

    Consensus based on research is that children who receive a solid foundation in basic skills in preschool do better throughout their public school years, regardless of income. Those basic skills can be taught in public school, but in significant numbers of districts in America they are not. The income gap, therefore, may represent both the affordability of good preschool for higher-income families as well as the affordability of outside help in the form of tutoring, private schooling, and help from parents who can provide their children with the means to make up for the failure of their schools.

    To look at the Achievement Gap as a result of family income alone, I think, is to ignore what actually occurs in our schools, as if teaching methods meant nothing, as if all teaching methods in this country were uniform, perfect, unassailable and not worth examining because what actually happens to children in school is irrelevant to their educational achievement.

    How is it possible to ignore what happens in the classroom when examining the Achievement Gap? The only way I find that possible is to work with the assumption that all American teachers have good intentions for student success, and that therefore they must be doing the right thing. Sadly, what research is showing is that good intentions are not enough.

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