To the Editor:
There are two important aspects of your Jan. 10, 2007, article “Study Links Merit Pay to Slightly Higher Student Scores” that deserve more scrutiny.
First, what is meant, in the headline and elsewhere, by the word “slightly”? Is there a significant statistical difference? Too many studies are being produced today with such qualifiers, which offer little help in interpreting study data.
Second, and more importantly, a professor of education policy studies, commenting on the report, is quoted in the article as saying: “Accountability systems and incentives will almost certainly make test scores go up. What we don’t know in the long run is whether students are learning more.” What a telling comment!
I have long predicted that the day would come when students passed the mandated tests and schools got a performing label, yet the nation’s children and graduates were not truly educated. Should our goal not be long-term learning and retention, as opposed to short-term test results?
A version of this article appeared in the January 31, 2007 edition of Education Week as Studies With ‘Qualifiers,’ Confusion on Goals