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The trick behind the miracle

May 17, 2008

Re "Small campus, big gains," May 11

If it is true that higher test scores at Jefferson High's Student Empowerment Academy have "captivated school board members," then the board is as gullible as The Times. This is educational sleight of hand at its most transparent.

The scenario outlined in your story is a familiar one. Reformers come to a low-performing school with extra money, a few glittering trinkets and plans for a rigorous, innovative curriculum. Not surprisingly, their program attracts many of the most motivated students, parents and teachers. Does it succeed? Of course. These are the same students who were outscoring their peers when they were sitting next to them. Give them their own campus, separate the data and, voila, you have performed an education miracle.

If the program at Jefferson didn't follow such a blueprint, that would really be newsworthy.

Brandon Crist

San Pedro

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