There are many reasons schools in poor neighborhoods often struggle to show growth on standardized tests, but lack of access to textbooks might be a bigger stumbling block than many realize. Data journalist Meredith Broussard examines the troubling connection between textbook publishers and state tests, as well as the disorganization and lack of resources in Philadelphia, where her son attends public school. Her Atlantic article dives into essential questions about the kind of information students have long been asked to know for the tests and the many challenges that big, under-resourced school districts face when dealing with basic logistical challenges like keeping track of inventory.
Some educators hope this dynamic will change as Common Core State Standards and the accompanying tests roll out in many states. Others are skeptical, but Broussard’s article sheds light on a few reasons why it can be so difficult for poor districts to show progress.
The companies that create the most important state and national exams also publish textbooks that contain many of the answers. Unfortunately, low-income school districts can’t afford to buy them.