What's achievement?

In this Commentary in the StarTribune on June 9th I said we are not having a very intelligent discussion about 'closing the achievement gap'.

I ask what seem to me to be relevant -- practical, and important -- questions. Among them:

  • Is is sensible to use a one-dimensional definition of achievement? Is it fair? The late Jack Frymier used to say it is quite unfair for adults not themselves at risk to be imposing failure on young people just getting started in life.
  • So far as proficiency in reading and math is a goal -- and it is, for all students -- is conventional school really the only route to achievement for all students?
  • And beyond proficiency; beyond elementary school, for high school: What's 'achievement'?

My experience is that questioning un-stated premises -- while likely to upset people -- is a 'must' for good decisions and successful policymaking.

So: Please do think about these questions. How would you answer? Let me know, via comment below.

Ted Kolderie