Getting everyone above average is impossible

June 5, 2014 at 1:05 a.m.

Editor, the Advocate:

I heard something funny the other day. Someone was talking about standardized tests in Texas and how kids needed to be at or above grade level in reading by the third grade. I had to smile. Grade level means average for that grade. When someone says that all students should be at or above average on a standardized reading test by the third grade, can we all be sure that we are understanding this the same way?

First, when they say a standardized test, they are not talking about state standards for a child's knowledge. It actually means that the test has been given to many, many people and that the scores have been "standardized." It has nothing to do with the content of the test.

Second, when they talk of average, they should mean the score that has 50 percent above it and 50 percent below it. The one right in the middle. So it is mathematically impossible for everyone to be at or above average.

Sometimes, people, including politicians, try to use a shorthand approach to make their point, and they misspeak. We, the public, need to remember this and start asking why. Why do they say things like "every child should be at or above average" when it is impossible? Fifty percent must be below average. That's what average means.

Is it that they really do not know better (surely not), or is there something else going on?

Makes a feller wonder.

Steve Trowbridge, Victoria



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