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Thompson: If The Gates Report Met Research Standards

Readexplore I wonder how the Gates Foundation's "Learning About Teaching" would be different if  the report was required to meet the standards of traditional social science before being peddled to reporters and the public.  It would begin with an introduction that objectively provided background information.  An early paragraph in the report would explain something like this:  "Youth (in grades one through three) are improving their reading comprehension MORE during the months they are in school. However, beginning in the fourth grade, that is no longer true! The above pattern implies that schooling in itself may have little impact on standardized assessments after 3rd grade."  Moreover,  the "common interpretation is that families have more profound effects on children's reading and verbal performance than teachers."'  Also, "state English test scores actually reflect the reading comprehension skills that the student brought to class, and they are insensitive to teacher effects.".... - JT (@drthompson)


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Yes, if schools don't effectively teach reading comprehension, then that is the effect you'd expect to see: differences between children will be driven by family variables rather than in-school variables.

But it doesn't follow from that that family variables are the only thing that could ever influence student test scores, nor that the primacy of out-of-school over in-school variables is inevitable.


Neither does it follow that the individual teacher that Gates is targeting who could be the only one that "could ever influence test scores." That individual needs a defense lawyer who will turn Gates words against them. Perhaps Gates should set up a legal defense fund to compensate districts that run up $100 of thousands in legal fees and then lose. But he also needs to set up a fund for the inner city kids who will be robbed of an education due to his disastrous theory.

But note your wording. You are talking possibility. I'm talking predictable reality and the exodus of talent that will result from schools where its harder to raise test scores. It doesn't need to be impossible to compensate for out-of-school factors; it just needs to be more difficult to stimulate Supply and Demand in a predictable way.

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