Your article on the California Assessment Program ("Test Goals Unmet at Many Schools," June 20 by Pam Moreland) cited one major deficiency in using CAP scores to judge the quality of schools. State Supt. Bill Honig feels that year-to-year improvement in these scores is a very important indicator of educational quality, and state law provides a special grant to schools that show such improvement. However, when the CAP scores at a school are already quite high, it is very hard to show further improvement each year.
There are other deficiencies in Honig's emphasis on CAP scores for measuring educational quality. Honig expects schools to strive to raise their scores enough to reach the top quartile of schools. By definition, exactly 25% of all schools will always be in the top quartile, never any more or any less. To enter the top quartile, a school must displace a school already there. For each school entering the top quartile, another school must fall into a lower quartile. Honig should be more concerned about the overall, statewide quality of public education and less concerned about the relative standings of individual schools.