McLean To the Editor:
Tim Peterson, in reporting available 2016 Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) SAT scores (“Fairfax County SAT Scores Above Virginia, National Levels,” Connection, October 19-25,2016) , highlighted an achievement gap.
Peterson focused on “achievement gap” without identifying it as SAT score differences between “students of color” and other students. He loosely opined that “outcomes are not improving for far too many students of color.” Of course, one could label educational outcomes as not improving enough for too many students. Critically, he offered no supporting facts (while no one doubts a gap). Anyone could focus on student gaps, but educators should enhance average learning for all students.
The Virginia Board of Education President Billy K. Cannaday Jr. evidently does not push hard for improving education for all. As the article notes, Cannaday said “Narrowing and ultimately closing these gaps is the state board’s top priority.” One could refer to this statement as a racist statement since it pits certain groups against others. It also reflects dangerous performance goals. A dubious way to achieve this gap goal is to require all white and Asian students to drink only beer and avoid libraries. Shame on Billy for focusing badly and implicitly dividing groups instead of improving education for all.
Peterson’s second point, higher FCPS SAT scores than Virginia and U.S. scores, is no achievement. The reason is FCPS family education and income levels are far higher. Crucially, average 2016 FCPS scores flatline, edging up 1 point to 1668. Virginia public schools scores far lower average SATs than all other Virginia students. We should ask how to ensure accountably improved education for all students.
Dr. David V. Pritchett