Daniel Patrick Moynihan once stated that everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts. After curtailing social promotion, data from the Florida Department of Education shows the percentage of 3rd graders scoring at the lowest reading level decreased by 41%. Low-income and minority students led the way with the largest literacy gains.
Paul Thomas’ recent guest column however made it clear that he is against this sort of thing- a strange and sad opinion indeed.
Thomas thinks retention policies cause higher drop-out rates. The older studies relied upon, however, repeatedly made a mistake similar to assuming roosters cause the sun to rise. More recent studies using more powerful statistical techniques found clear evidence of success.
All is not lost – reading fewer teacher union funded bloggers and more research can do wonders for restoring balance in perspective. I recommend starting with the recent Stanford/Harvard study that found Florida experienced the second greatest academic gains in the country despite having the smallest overall increase in per student spending. I think that is great for both taxpayers and students- but that’s just my opinion.
About the author
Dr. Matthew Ladner @MatthewLadner
Dr. Matthew Ladner is the Senior Advisor of Policy and Research for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. He previously served as Vice President of Research and Goldwater Institute. Prior to joining Goldwater, Dr. Ladner was director of state projects at the Alliance for School Choice. Dr. Ladner has written numerous studies on school choice, charter schools and special education reform. Most recently, Dr. Ladner authored the groundbreaking, original research Turn and Face the Strain: Age Demographic Change and the Near Future of American Education, outlining the future funding crisis facing America’s K-12 public education funding. He also coauthors the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform. Dr. Ladner has testified before Congress, the United States Commission of Civil Rights and numerous state legislative committees. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received both a Masters and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Houston. Dr. Ladner is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for Educational Choice. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.