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The Globe says, “Pulling back on accountability measures would set back poor school districts by decades” (“Charlie Baker must address K-12 achievement gaps.” Editorial, Dec. 1).

Do high-stakes tests — so-called accountability — reduce test score gaps? A little fact checking is in order. The cities that have been most obsessed with high stakes testing have seen no test score improvements for black, Hispanic, and low-income students. Nationally, the black-white test score gap has been shrinking for decades, but the introduction of high-stakes tests did not improve results.

There is a proven, highly effective way to reduce test score gaps: reduce poverty and racial segregation. In schools where fewer than 10 percent of the students are in poverty, US reading scores would rank second in the world. But in schools where 50 percent or more of students are in poverty, the United States is way below the international average. Our problem is that we have an unusually high number of students in poverty and concentrated in high-poverty schools.


Dan Clawson

The writer is a professor of sociology at University of Massachusetts Amherst and cochairman of the Massachusetts Teachers Association Educational Policy Committee. His views here are his own.