Free Lunch Count Can Predict Standardized Test Scores!


By Dr. John Trotter


   Here's the dirty little secret that most educrats and politicians will never touch:  Standardized test scores almost invariably correlate one-to-one with socio-economic scores.   The legendary Carvin L. Brown, while serving as a professor for years at UGA, conducted studies on the correlation of test scores to free lunch counts at various schools.  If a school has a high free lunch count among its student population, this count is very predictive of the student population’s collective standardized test scores.  If the Walton High School teachers began teaching at Crim High School, and the Crim teachers began teaching at Walton, the scores would stay essentially the same.  The only substantial difference?  The new Crim teachers would think that they had died and had been sent to hell, and the new Walton teacher would think that they had been sent somewhere at least in Purgatorial realm and not pure hell.  The Law of the Large Numbers is just that...a "law" -- a principal of action which holds true, even so much that polls of four hundred representative voters nationwide can eerily predict national elections.  There are always, of course, exceptions to the rule.  Students from stable, two-parent homes with the parents being very well-educated themselves have students who score significantly higher on standardized tests than students who hail from single-parent homes surrounded by a drug-infested and crime-ridden neighborhood.  If children do not perceive that they come from a reading culture where books are plentiful in the home, then these children are not going to place a high value on reading.  If a child brings to school little or no motivation to learn to read (and very little readiness skills), then the reality of this child becoming an effective reader is very slim despite the very effective teaching which may take place in the classroom.  The key to learning is the motivation to learn.  We have heard the metaphor that "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make the horse drink it" is ever so true in the schooling process.  The educrats and the politicians do not want to accept this.  This is, however, a reality just like the Law of Gravity is a reality.  Wishing a phenomenon not to exist cannot make the phenomenon go away.

   I will quote my eccentric and brilliant professor from UGA from years ago, Dr. Eugene Boyce, on this subject:  "The motivation to learn is a social phenomenon."  Schools have to be examined sociologically and structured in such a fashion that recognizes this reality.  Until the dimwit educrats and policymakers do so, trying to put bandaids on the abject failure of our schools (urban schools in particular) is like spittin' against a tsunami.  The anti-academic and academically debilitating culture has to be mitigated and not allowed into the school’s culture.  The school should be learning institution, not social experience.  Playing cops and robbers with students is unconscionable.  The misreant students should simply be removed from the regular school setting.  (There are many ways to accomplish this, but I don't have the time to go into details now.)  You cannot allow the non-academically motivated students who are really hell-bent on materially and substantially disrupting the learning processes of the students who want to learn to engage in this infantile conduct with impunity.  The other students will quickly get the message and fall in line with the academic mission of the schools.  Today's school boards and superintendents simply do not have the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing or they are simply dumbas_ses.  In either scenario, they should be metaphorically horse-whipped.  They are contributing to the delinquency of the students which will probably lead to a life of crime and anguish for not only these "students" themselves but for innocents who come in contact with them.  School boards like the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County and superintendents like Beverly Hall and Crawford Lewis are contributors to the problem, not the saviors. (c)  MACE, 2009, June 9, 2009.

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