At my Madison lunch yesterday, several people said the school district was lying about achievement data. After reading Parentalcation and Right Wing Nation, I suspect they were talking about Superintendent Art Rainwater’s claim to have eliminated the racial achievement gap. From the Fayetteville, NC Observer:
Superintendent Art Rainwater loves to discuss the Madison Metropolitan School Districtâ€™s success in eliminating the racial achievement gap.
But he wonâ€™t consult with educators from other communities until they are ready to confront the issue head on.
â€œIâ€™m willing to talk,â€ Rainwater tells people seeking his advice, â€œwhen you are willing to stand up and admit the problem, to say our minority children do not perform as well as our white students.â€
Only then will Rainwater reveal the methods Madison used to level the academic playing field for minority students.
This is an odd statement. The racial achievement gap is accepted as an uncomfortable fact everywhere; it is much discussed. No superintendent in the U.S. — except for Rainwater — claims to have eliminated the gap.
Today, Rainwater said, no statistical achievement gap exists between the 25,000 white and minority students in Madisonâ€™s schools.
Impressive, but untrue, writes Right Wing Prof, who looked at Madison reading scores across all grades.
Only 54% of the black students are proficient or above. Only 55% of the Hispanic students are proficient and above. And only 91% of the white students are proficient or above.
D-Ed Reckoning explains how Madison is cooking the numbers to claim its balanced literacy program is succeeding. All student scores went up because the reading test was made easier, but black students gained less than whites and the huge rise in scores statewide was not confirmed by federal scores, which remained flat. (See Reading Wars II for more.) I found a graph comparing Madison to five similar districts in Wisconsin, all of which do much better than Madison on fourth-grade reading.