By Robert Mann
So, now Louisiana’s education accountability program will include 3- and 4-year-old children? As one wag on Twitter asked, what’s next, prenatal testing? This fall, state officials launch a pilot program at day care and childcare centers in 15 parishes to test students’ academic performance. State Education Superintendent John White says too many kids are unprepared for kindergarten. “This is about saying, ‘How do we ensure there is a basic minimum standard of quality?'” White explained.
White seems flummoxed about why so many young children aren’t learning. Here’s an idea: Instead of testing them, perhaps he should visit their homes.
If he did, he’ll find that many of them are poor. Some leave for school on empty stomachs. Others are victims of abuse or neglect. Sometimes, they arrive with debilitating earaches or toothaches. Others need eyeglasses or hearing aids. The list of maladies is endless in a state in which 26 percent of children live in poverty.
How, exactly, do you teach such children? The evidence is overwhelming that, on average, it’s hard. Many studies over many years show that poor children usually don’t learn as well as affluent children. Fact is, if there’s a school in a poor district, it will usually have lower test scores than schools in a wealthier district.
Consider, for example, eighth-grade reading and math scores across the United States.There’s a strong correlation between a state’s poverty level and reading and math scores. On standardized tests, like the SAT, the most reliable predictor of success is the income of the child’s family.
- Louisiana Will Test 3- and 4-Year Olds (dianeravitch.net)
- Poverty Is What’s Crippling Public Education in the U.S. – Not Bad Teachers (theatlanticcities.com)
- Poverty and Our Public Schools (nancyschoellkopf.wordpress.com)
- Who Abandoned The Children of Philadelphia? (crooksandliars.com)