Public school watch: Four grade levels, the New York Times says!

TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2016

Obvious questions unasked:
In this morning's New York Times, Motoko Rich has a lengthy "Upshot" report about family income and achievement in the public schools.

(When you see the "Upshot" label, you're supposed to conclude that you're reading brainiac work.)

We want to wait a day or two before commenting on Rich's work. It's based on voluminous data from Stanford's Sean Reardon.

That said, there are some fascinating graphics if you read the report on-line. And by the way: If you read the report on-line, you'll be met by these headlines:
Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares
Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts.
Let's focus on that striking sub-headline: "Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts."

We have one question to ask about that. You will never see this question addressed in education reports in the New York Times. It's the most obvious question on the face of the earth. For that reason, it will never occur to the gang which reports on schools for the Times.

Our question:

If achievement levels vary that much in the sixth grade, what does it means when the various states adopt statewide grade-level standards? Viewed from a slightly different angle, how can the nation's public schools work from a single grade-level "Common Core" for each of the grades?

We've been asking some variant of this question for the past forty years. That said, it's impossible to get education elites and education reporters to focus on this question, which is blindingly obvious.

Let's review what that question means:

According to that headline, sixth graders in some higher-achieving school districts are "four grade levels ahead" of their peers in some lower-achieving districts.

Based on Rich's graphics, we seem to be talking about average achievement levels for kids in these districts. That means that the achievement gaps will be even larger if we compare the highest-achieving individual students to those with the poorest skills.

There gaps are said to obtain across the nation in the sixth grade. How then can a state adopt a single set of grade-level "standards" for that state's sixth-graders? How can a single set of standards—a single curriculum—make sense for all those kids, when their achievement levels are so widely divergent?

We've been asking this question for forty years; the question is blindingly obvious. That said, it's impossible to get education experts or education reporters to focus on this blindingly obvious question.

Even on the most elite levels, our public discussions of public schools are just amazingly primitive. That's the thought which popped in our heads when we saw that headline today.

The winter of 82: In the winter of 82, we wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Evening Sun about a related topic. It concerned the suitability of recommended textbooks for grade school kids in the Baltimore City Schools.

Below, you see excerpts. For a bit of background and some context, you can just click here:
SOMERBY (2/9/82): In grade after grade, for topic after topic, [Baltimore teaching] guides recommend textbooks that are clearly too difficult for most city students to work from—books that are completely inappropriate for children who may be several years below traditional grade level in reading.

In the first semester of fourth grade, for example, the two most commonly cited textbooks are Daniel Chu’s “A Glorious Age in Africa”—a textbook with a measured eighth-grade reading level—and Frederick King’s “The Social Studies and Our Country”—Laidlaw’s sixth-grade textbook.

Few fourth graders anywhere will be able to profit from textbooks as difficult as these. In an urban system like Baltimore’s, this selection is particularly surprising—and dooms any attempt to teach the social studies curriculum in a rigorous, systematic way.

The results of this situation are all too predictable. Baltimore teachers find it difficult—indeed, impossible—to find readable textbooks with which social studies and science can be taught to their numerous below-level readers. The result may be that such children are not taught social studies and science at all.
Thirty-four years later, extremely wide achievement gaps still obtain in our public schools. That's even true on the grade school level.

Without fail, the obvious questions raised by this fact will go unaddressed. Once or twice, we've suggested the possibility that nobody actually cares.


  1. If your sixth grade is at a fourth grade level, you might try using fourth grade textbooks.

    1. Unfortunately, each grade level has different topics to teach. For example, in California, fourth graders learn about missions and geographical regions while, sixth graders, I'm not mistaken, learn world history.

    2. Dave the Guitar PlayerMay 5, 2016 at 12:59 PM

      I think the point would be that there needs to be appropriate texts. If students are reading at a fourth grade level in the sixth grade, there needs to be world history texts that can be read and understood by students reading at a fourth grade level. Then, even students struggling with reading can learn world history in the sixth grade.

  2. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email:

  3. Hi everyone!
    I'm so excited my husband is back after a break up !
    My husband broke up with me last week, i was so frustrated and i could not know what next to do again, i love my husband so much but he was cheating on me with another woman and this makes him broke up with me so that he can be able to get marry to the other lady and this lady i think use witchcraft on my husband to make him hate me and my kids and this was so critical and uncalled-for,I cry all day and night for God to send me a helper to get back my man until i went to NY to see a friend and who was having the same problem with me but she latter got her Husband back and i asked her how she was able to get her husband back and she told me that their was a powerful spell caster in Africa name Dr.Unity that he help with love spell in getting back lost lover back, and i decided to contacted the same Dr.Unity and he told me what is needed to be done for me to have my man back and i did it although i doubted it but i did it and the Dr told me that i will get the result after 48hours, and he told me that my husband was going to call me by 9pm in my time and i still doubted his word, to my surprise my husband really called me and told me that he miss me so much, Oh My God! i was so happy, and today i am happy with my man again and we are joyfully living together as one good family and i thank the powerful spell caster Dr.Unity of , he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that good spell casters still exist and Dr.Unity is one of the good spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are there and your lover is turning you down, or you have your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore contact the powerful spell caster Dr.Unity on his email: .if you have any problem contact Dr.Unity,I guarantee you that he will help you.Thank you so much Dr Unity.

  4. In our simple life, love plays a very specific role.Now we are able to make your love life healthy and it has no space for any type trouble. These all are possible with the help of AGBAZARA TEMPLE OF SOLUTION. He helped me cast a spell that brought my long lost lover back withing 48hours who left me for another woman. you can also contact him on ( ) or call him on +2348104102662 and be happy forever like am now with his experience.

    from USA.

  5. I would just like to use this medium to give a quick advise to any one out there that is having difficulty in his or her relationship to contact Dr.Madu because he has been really helpful to my relationship and was able to bring back broken relationship within time limit of 48 hours Now i am happy once more. You can contact Dr. Madu by calling him on his mobile +2348107547068 or write him through his email at ( maduutemple @ gmail . com )


  6. I have been looking for a love spell to bring back my wife after been separated for 2years, I have tried 3 different spell caster which I paid them money and non of them was able to get my wife back and this make me look frustrated until a friend of mine direct me to Mama Anita who did what I called black magic I was in contact with her and after 48hours my wife call me and said she want us to be together and now we are back again with my 8 years old son and there is more romance in our relationship.please if any one need a real love spell then Mama Anita spell is the solution to your relationship problem you can reach her at ( or call +233260898963 website

  7. If you like you can me insane man for testifying and coming open to the public to glorify and rain praises upon the only one EXPERIENCED,ACCESSIBLE,TRUSTED AND MOST POWERFULLY spell caster called Ajayi Ololo for helping me use his reliable and sincere spell work to bring back to me my lovely wife after 8 months of separations. I and my wife had a misunderstanding that her family has to tell her to get a divorce which she did. Little did i know that she is really my wife and my woman. I know you reading this testimony will ask how did i know she is my woman and wife even after divorce. i get to know this because i always think of her anytime i find myself to be alone in the house and anytime i have that thinking i will always want to drink to forget about her, even with the drinks to clear her out of my brain the reflections of her beauty will always flash through my mind that i dont know what to do to get her back home. On thinking how to bring her back home for us to leave happily together and call off the divorce i went to marriage advisers and also register for how you need to get your broken marriage restored back. I spent two week on the seminar were we were always thought about the steps to take to restore a broken marriage back but to me it seems not to be helpful in anyway. my wife dont longer pick my calls and never wanted to see me again, and this was the woman that use to love,care,respect and adore me before. Her decision that resulted to our divorce was just a misup that could be easily be corrected after much apology to her that it will never repeat itself again. I know she getting to know that i was having affair outside our marriage is enough but my wife i use to know could not has gone so far even with the conviction of her family to do it. As for me i has a second a thought to know that there must be some enemies that must have been manipulating my wife against me and with that i need a help to rid of the enemy that could have entered her to make end our marriage even with much plead from my own side. on the point for searching and looking for help my mother said there is a man that she will refer me to help me. That it means am still in love with my wife since you are still thinking about her. On hearing this from my own mother helping me out on the adventure to get help to return back home my wife,i was so glad and happy. I felt so shock on the help she suggest that i should email ( for help that he is a spell caster that i know for help and reliable work because it was this same spell caster that gave me drugs to be healed and cured of cancer and taken care off. not on till my lovely mother told me that spell casting is harmless i never believed. She stressed on that the only spell caster that i can get my help is Dr Ajayi Ololo that uses his spell casting to make your lover realize the love you have for her and to kill and destroy any human begin involved on the process i never knew there is a man like Dr Ajayi Ololo that is been talked about all over the states and countries.

  8. The first position people thinks that the jobs of physical education is so tough because in this field, if we want to complete our course then we did a lot of hard work in it.automatic paraphraser


  9. I had doubts about magic spells after purchasing many spells that never worked I actually decided to never buy a spell again. I have tried different spell casters..Some of them never answered me after I paid and were obvious scammers, some really cast a spell but for some reason it didn't work. Then I saw a video on youtube with a person who was mentioning she had results with Mama Anita. Despite the suspicions I had her site looked real so I gave spells a last try. It's probably the best decision I ever made in my life because it worked and my boyfriend came back with me After I broke up with him I spent a lot of time wishing that I could just turn the clock backwards.He helped me do just that. In fact our relationship feels like the break up never even happened. We have never been this happy or passionate, all thanks to mama anita. If you're looking for a good spell caster look no further,you can contact her straight on ( (