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Reader's View: Every educator working on achievement gap

The conclusions expressed in the editorial by the Free Press of Mankato, Minn., and published in the News Tribune on Sept. 3, surprised me. They didn't seem to be based on information available from the Minnesota Department of Education or other published stories about the new accountability system (Other View: "(Achievement gap de-emphasized by new school ratings").

The state of Minnesota is not de-emphasizing the achievement gap issue but is recognizing that many factors contribute to student achievement and improvement. By measuring progress over time and English language proficiency, the Department of Education is widening its lens beyond the single snapshot provided by MCA tests, allowing students, schools, and districts to demonstrate much-needed change.

The editorial was dismissive of consistent attendance as an academic measure, but educators and employers recognize this as one predictor of future job performance and one often not easily controlled by families in turmoil. Some students may not learn in school, but it isn't possible to teach students who don't come.

The editorial also expressed concern that the performance of various groups won't be compared to white students' performance. The new North Star report card on the Department of Education website includes easily accessible statistics by grade, subject, school, and district over multiple years, which can be used for the comparisons of many kinds.

If the editorial writers could not find a single, snappy categorization of students and schools, that may have been the point. This is a complex, multi-faceted problem, and every educator is working to solve it.

Deborah Sauer


The writer is a retired Duluth public schools teacher.