To the Editor:
I was disappointed to see what I consider to be unbalanced coverage in your article “Turnaround School Reaps Double-Digit Proficiency Gains” (Oct. 5, 2011). In a time when the mainstream media hails reform plans that include school closings and school turnarounds, we look to Education Week as a place to get an accurate picture of the success rates of such reforms.
The article correctly asserts that the percentages of students scoring proficient at the Academy@Shawnee, in Louisville, Ky., increased from under 5 percent to nearly 25 percent in math from 2010 to 2011 and from 22.58 percent to 45 percent in reading from 2010 to 2011. Unfortunately, it omits some very relevant details that shed more light on these numbers.
For example, these scores do not represent the entire school, but just the 100 10th graders for the reading scores and the 100 11th graders for the math scores. The article implies these were schoolwide gains. Also, though it is accurate that the school had 5 percent proficiency in 11th grade math in 2010 and 25 percent in 2011, if you go back a few years, you see that the scores were 24 percent in 2007, 20 percent in 2008, 18 percent in 2009, and 5 percent in 2010. In other words, the scores started dropping when this principal took over and have now been restored to their 2007 levels. The same can be said for the reading scores.
New York, N.Y.
The writer is the author of Gary Rubinstein’s TFA Blog and is a teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York City.
A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2011 edition of Education Week as Turnaround Article Was ‘Unbalanced’