Letters to the Editor
Marcienne Mattleman, in her Commentary ("Bringing Theory into the Classroom," Sept. 29, 1982), complains that the evaluations of programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 "have been able to identify those elements associated with successful programs, yet 17 years after esea there has been negligible evidence of the use of those research findings in urban school systems."
I do not find this surprising; nor do I expect the urban schools' "top-level leadership" to suddenly begin using these research findings as a result of Ms. Mattleman's urging.
The lack of responsiveness of large educational systems to research findings on successful programs or to any other identification of policies that make for quality seems predictable. The incentives (or lack of incentives) built into educational structures provide no choice for parents. There is no way that differing educational approaches, philosophies, materials, talents, and efforts can compete without parental choice.
It seems to me that Ms. Mattleman inadvertently makes a strong case for parental choice in the form of tuition tax credits or vouchers. I do not see how our schools can become significantly responsive to findings on what makes for quality until they have a stronger economic incentive to provide quality.
Tom W. Shuford Special-Education teacher Roslyn Heights, N.Y.
For about 20 years we have heard the critics complain about declining s.a.t. scores, as if these scores are valid measures of something. Now this year the scores are higher than last year. Do we hear applause for turning things around? No! We hear Daniel S. Greenberg ("The Turnaround in sat Scores Gives Slight Reason To Cheer," Commentary, Oct. 6, 1982) complaining because the scores still aren't as good as they were in 1963.
Statistics also show that minorities are making major gains in reading and math. Do we hear any good words from the critics? Not on your life.
Is the s.a.t. test of today the same as was given in 1963? No! Is there conclusive evidence that it measures exactly what was measured in 1963? No! Is the drop-out rate as high as it was in 1963? No! Are those taking the s.a.t. today overwhelmingly white, middle-class, and male, as they were in 1963? No! Can one fairly compare apples and oranges? No! Is it fair to compare s.a.t. scores today with those of 20 years ago? No! No! No! But, whoever said critics were fair?
Terry Northup Chairman, Division of Education Wayland Baptist University Plainview, Tex.