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The trap in the 'achievement gap'

September 08, 2007

Re "School scores yield uneven numbers," Sept. 1

The country needs to reconsider the pressure it is putting on schools to close the so-called achievement gap. The No Child Left Behind Law is based on the false assumptions that all children have the same ability to learn and that any achievement gap must be the fault of teachers or administrators.

In reality, some children are quick to learn, most are near average, and some are slow. Given this fact, it is not fair to the students to require the same achievement from all of them, and it is unfair to schools not to take into account the abilities of the students they have to work with.

An enlightened approach would be to stop aggregating test scores by race and concentrate on each child's aptitude for learning. The goal should be to allow and encourage every child to advance as rapidly and as far as his or her ability and willingness to work. How well schools meet that goal would be a completely fair way to evaluate them.

George L. Clark

Manhattan Beach

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