Education Letter to the Editor

Change Follows a Curve, Not a Straight Line

April 11, 2006 1 min read

To the Editor:

Commenting on your March 29, 2006, article on Boston, which relates the Aspen Institute and Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s finding that test-score improvements in Boston have “tapered off in the past two years” (“In Boston, Stability Is Key Issue in Search for Leader”):

We live in a nonlinear world. Many changes follow an exponential curve. For example, when you set your thermostat to a higher level (set point), the temperature follows an exponential curve as it rises toward the set point. Most change is seen in the first time constant, with successively smaller changes in each following time constant.

It is obvious that Boston’s public schools are nearing the set point of previous changes, and that new, higher set points will be needed if progress is to continue. Setting goals for linearized achievement flies in the face of real-world constraints.

Paul Richardson

Colorado Springs, Colo.

A version of this article appeared in the April 12, 2006 edition of Education Week as Change Follows a Curve, Not a Straight Line