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Vermont students: Top of the class or not?

The Rutland Herald put the Higgins gloss on it: In an Oct. 16 editorial, the editors assert that "Vermont's high test rankings" show that the "low student-teacher ratio is good for students but hard on taxpayers" without ever mentioning Utah, which has the highest p/t ratio in the nation (22 compared to Vermont's 11) has roughly half the per-pupil spending cost as a result, and whose students came in at 262 for 8th grade reading, 1 point above the 261 U.S. average, and 11 points below the 273 Vermont average, but at half the Vermont cost.

All these mid-200s scores are about half of the possible 500, which explains why all the proficiency percentages cluster in the 30-to-40 range, meaning that a clear majority of students-U.S., Vermont and Utah-can't read well enough to even make proficient. Sometimes it's politically expedient to pronounce correctly, but not to recite the stats.

As for the obvious educator objective-that is, bringing most of their students to "proficiency"-some Vermont officials have been claiming that actually getting students literate and numerate isn't in their job description.

Retired Vermont school architect Martin Harris lives in Tennessee.

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