November 5, 1997

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Vol. 17, Issue 10
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Are standardized tests an equitable way to measure the achievement of America's children? A fresh, four-year study by the Educational Testing Service of the gender gap on standardized tests concludes that differences in performance between boys and girls are real, but not large, and cut both ways. ("ETS Disputes Charges of Gender Bias," May 14, 1997.) Still, critics of standardized testing, like the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, blast the ETS study as "a smoke screen designed to divert attention from the ongoing problems with the exams they publish."
Amid the sea of failure that engulfs public education in urban areas throughout the country, the San Francisco Unified School District stands apart. It may be the only large, inner-city district in the country that has seen test scores, graduation rates, and a host of other achievement indicators rise consistently over the past five years.
I am perhaps more sensitive than most people to jargon. I have spent a large part of my working life, first as a journalist and now as a journalism professor and author, trying to avoid speaking or writing it. My models have been George Orwell, Red Smith (who quit Sports Illustrated because copy editors kept inserting the word "moreover" into his stories), and the King James version of the Bible.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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