Gains in Reading Productivity Take Time (Like Everything Else Worth Investing In)
Gains in reading productivity in New York State were seen for the first time since the current testing system was adopted in 1999, according to a New York Times article, New York Eighth Graders Show Gains in Reading, by David M. Herszenhorn.
The article focused on the impact of a new federal requirement "that all students be tested - including children with limited English" on the results. Inclusion of the results appeared to result in declines in reading in the third and fourth grades, but still showed modest increases in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
Hopefully in its follow up stories, the media will circle back to last year’s angst over the small school grant programs of the Gates Foundation that seemed to be driven by interim performance reporting done by the foundation itself. The sector clearly admired the Gates Foundation’s effort to hold itself and its program accountable for tangible results. But some of us thought the Foundation’s public self-flagellation was a bit premature. What really is the normal investment cycle in which results in program impact should be conclusively judged?
If any sector can transcend the short-termism that impedes progress on so many aspects of policy change, it is and must be the third sector. As an ex-Wall Streeter, I'd say the easy bet is still with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bill and Melinda Gates to see something get done in education in New York, but we need to give it time.