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Web letter by Monica Pontenberg: Comparisons of private to public schools inherently unfair

In light of the Tony Bennett scandal, this would be a good time to educate the public on how the A-F system really works. While the general public knows some schools are failing and some are not, my guess is they do not know why.

The majority of the information is on the Indiana Department of Education website, although you have to read between the lines to understand the full implications of the system.

Does the public know that one or two students who do not show what the state believes to be significant growth in one area can bring down an entire school? Does the public realize that with the current system all schools will be failing at some point in the future? Even schools in wealthy districts? That is because growth has to occur every year. Is that bad? Not really, but let’s be realistic.

At some point, with the current model in place, schools will have to have a 100 percent pass rate. In some schools, that may happen occasionally, but not often. The model in place sets all schools up for failure in the long run.

Does the general public know that public schools must educate every child, but private schools do not? Call a private school and ask them whether they take special education students. They don’t, or if they do, they are not required to make accommodations for them, such as modified tests or assignments, or extra test-taking time.

There is nothing wrong with this, as they are private schools and can do what they like. However, the public gets the idea that comparing private to public schools on this A-F scale means they are comparing apples to apples. They are not.

Unless the public and parents get upset at the absolute ridiculousness of this system, it will never change. It is unfair to all who work in public education and especially to the students who work so hard to do well on these tests, only to be told they were just not quite good enough.

MONICA PONTENBERG

Fort Wayne

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