Standards everyone can meet

Some students at the high-scoring MATCH charter school in Boston are transferring in their last semester to district-run public schools, apparently in search of lower standards. Kids get into college, slack off and then realize they might not graduate. Or they think a D at MATCH will turn into a B at Generic High, protecting their college slot.

Boston officials accuse MATCH of not offering enough support for students to graduate on time, leaving Boston with the awkward task of determining the students’ fate.

MATCH officials, on the other hand, say Boston presents an easy out — an automatic promotion — for their students struggling under rigorous graduation requirements. They deny encouraging students to leave, and ask that Boston make diploma determinations based on the charter school’s standards.

“It breaks my heart to see students leave this late in the senior year, but it would break my heart more to change or lower our standards,” said Jorge Miranda, the school’s principal. “There’s no compromising on the standards. They need that preparation to succeed in college, and when they get that college degree, that’s their ticket out of poverty.”

MATCH is right to maintain rigorous standards, writes Flypaper.

There’s a term for “standards that everyone can meet.” It’s called “no standards.”

Flypaper also questions the Washington Post’s feel-good story about a school where all students meet Maryland’s standards.

Perhaps this is a sign that Maryland should raise the passing scores on its tests?

If one school in the entire state hits 100 percent proficient (most students score as advanced), that’s hardly a sign that everyone can do it. Ocean City Elementary places an unusual emphasis on structure, consistency and getting all students to speak. Surely there’s something to learn from its success.

About Joanne


  1. i used to commute via the Green Line T in Boston w/ many Match students, so it came as quite a shock that this is considered an elite school. Many of them were rude and vulgar; i recall having to listen to (african-american) students who used the f- and n-words in EVERY single sentence. This is why my child will not be going to boston public schools.

  2. Hmm, racist much?

    I would argue that most kids are vulgar these days, and it’s no surprise listening to TV, radio, video games, etc. Standards of decency are way down; and I’d argue that HS kids (and sailors), regardless of race, have always used foul language more than the average adult in public.

    A couple of points:

    1) MATCH is not a BPS school. It’s better than almost all of them in almost all regards. I’d put money on the fact that those kids are about 100 times more well-behaved IN SCHOOL than their peers at any BPS school.

    2) I’m guessing that kids in Wellesley, or at Exeter, drop the F-bomb just as much, and just as inappropriately.

  3. Paul, throw out the Race Card much?

  4. SuperSub says:

    And I would argue that too many people are using generalizations without any evidence.
    I know many teens in suburban and urban communities who think using vulgarity is, well, vulgar.

  5. MarkRoulo says:

    I read Dave’s reference to race as an attempt to establish that the use of the word nigger was *not* racist (as it was used by a black person). I did not read his comment as implying that the vulgarity is/was a black thing.

    -Mark Roulo

  6. Leave us not stray too far from the clear implication that the kids, and presumably their parents, are more worried about getting their passport stamped, i.e. graduating, then they are about education.

    The tough school gets ditched if the true purpose of education, getting the diploma, looks to be in danger.

    And it makes perfect sense. There’s not much added value in graduating from the tough school but there’s a lot of value to be lost in not graduating. What’s the smart play under those circumstances?

    As long as the diploma’s worth more then the education it purports to represent the direction schools will be pushed will be the direction necessary to hang onto kids – downhill.

  7. I’m the MATCH School founder and a big fan of this blog.

    1. In fairness to the first commenter, while I cringed, I’ve definitely heard our kids swear on the T. He’s right to be annoyed. I’m annoyed.

    I do agree with Paul that suburban kids serve up a ton of profanity too. It’s just that they’re in their cars.

    Still, that’s no excuse. It’s wrong for our kids to speak like that.

    It’s hard to police, since it’s not like a school bus. Students take various trains at various departure times, with up to 90 minute commute. Hard but not impossible. We could and should run a few more “sting” operations.

    There’s also a sort of interesting sociological phenomenon that many No Excuses leaders talk about: kids “code-switching”, both to posture for safety reasons (i.e., they look like marks for other teens if they’re wearing our khaki-and-polo uniform, so they want to be appear more bad-ass than they are), and perhaps to validate themselves as “real teens” when they’ve just spent 11 hours in a rigorous school.

    2. The “not enough support” charge by the district, I thought, was off base.

    We give more 1-on-1 tutoring support (8 to 10 hours a week of tutoring, rising to 16 to 20 hours for strugglers) than any other public school in MA.

    3. The most important thing here is that the basic numbers of Boston, or any urban system, are just not transparent to the public.

    Because of the efforts of Jay Greene and others, we know that 40% to 50% of urban kids never get high school diplomas.

    But what is less understood is that the high school grads are very likely to ENROLL in college but drop out.

    We require a tough load precisely for that reason. But absent someone understanding the fact that most “B-average” inner-city kids will start college and then drop out, our standards probably seem capricious. They’re essential, though, to a plausible shot at college success.