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letters | test scores raise concern — and debate

Without resources, ed reform push is doomed to fail

Your editorial “Fourth-gradetest scores sound a warning bell (11/15/13)” glides over a crucial issue. You cite the concern of Mitchell Chester, state commissioner for elementary and secondary education, that the decline in reading scores is linked to the loss of elementary school reading specialists over the past few years as a result of budget cuts. But you stigmatize as “counterproductive grumbling” superintendents’ concerns about the concurrent implementation timetables of two massive new initiatives — the adoption of Common Core standards and the new teacher evaluations.

You omit a third large mandate: the pilot assessment this year of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. You denigrate superintendents’ objections that all this is “too much, too soon” as “weak excuses,” and, to clinch the case, you refer to the MCAS adoption a decade ago when, despite “similar complaints,” schools “adapted admirably.”

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What you have left out is that the education reform law of 1993 provided schools with increased resources to implement the new curriculum frameworks and MCAS testing regimen. State funding for public K-12 education rose 8 percent per year from 1993 to 2002. Since then, adjusted for inflation, it has fallen 8 percent. Since the fiscal crisis, local funding for education has also declined.

What you’re calling for is a formula for frustration and failure. It does not do justice to the legitimate needs of schools or to the grand bargain of education reform. If we want higher standards and accountability, we have to provide more resources, not less.

Gary Kaplan

Executive director

JFY Networks

Boston

JFY Networks is a nonprofit provider of blended learning programs to high schools and community colleges.

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