Letters to the Editor: Friday, March 19, 2010

Oklahoman Published: March 19, 2010
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A flawed view
Brandon Dutcher’s "How will measure help?” (Point of View, March 15) weaves a tale of money, injustice and failing academics. Dutcher uses past ACT scores to grade Oklahoma school improvement, finding that Oklahoma results are flat. The ACT is a college entrance exam. It’s a hard reading test (except for the math section) that should show how large numbers of students taking it fall on a bell curve. In this case, reading skill is a proxy for IQ. High reading scores and IQ correlate at approximately a 93 percent rate.

The ACT is a wonderful predictor of success in college. Good readers with high IQs have all the tools for success in college. To use that test as a tool for evaluating the success of the common education system is to "tool” the unschooled in testing measures, for it was never meant for that. Schools use criteria reference tests to measure how much a student has learned; such tests measure what was taught. To use other tests to measure learning, such as the ACT (which measures a skill set that correlates highly with IQ), is playing politics with the lives of children and teachers. It presents to the public a flawed view in educational measurement of learning.

Christian Towles, The Village

Not comparable
Regarding Brandon Dutcher’s "How will measure help?” (Point of View, March 15): The chart Dutcher employs shows the percent change in revenue per pupil and the percent change in ACT scores. Dutcher doesn’t say if the percent change is from 1990 or from the previous year. I suspect it’s the former so as to make the difference in the two percentages more dramatic. Also, Dutcher is comparing two percentages that aren’t comparable. The amount of money that can be potentially spent on education has no limit while the ACT score has a limit (a perfect score).

Let’s say a student has already taken the ACT and scored a 27. This student spends twice the time studying for a second ACT test and scores a 30. The percentage change for the study time was 100 percent but the percentage change for the ACT score was only 11 percent.

While that doesn’t appear to be a good tradeoff (because we’re comparing an infinite variable vs. a finite variable), that extra three points on the ACT score could mean thousands of dollars in scholarship money.

Rick Miller, Oklahoma City

Ignoring a crisis
The Legislature has been dealing with several measures related to taxation lately, including removal of the sales tax on groceries.
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