What if

Hansel and Gretel

What if . . .

…we have had it all wrong?

To start,

what if we rightly assumed that America’s vitality necessitates a thriving middle class? A sine qua non.


what if we have built our society’s basic structures — education, jobs, housing — to edify the vitality of that middle class?


what if, while trying to build the educational vitality, we are incorrectly valuing and staging the necessary building process, valuing and staging drywall, plaster, and paint before concrete, steel, and lumber?


what if we are measuring how pretty the walls look without determining the building’s strength?


is our educational obsession today: testing and measuring student skills with smaller, prettier stuff without determining whether those students have the strength of persistence and critical thinking to succeed in college. College, our single-most predictive doorway into the middle class.

All is not lost, though:

what if one group decided to study whether America might be incorrectly valuing predictors of college success?

Well, one group has.

Buildings need both, strength and beauty. While constructing its middle class, America’s challenge is to value both.

One thought on “What if

  1. A great report…thanks for sharing. It is encouraging to see a report that provides a compelling argument that college readiness is much more than a test score.

    And now for a much smaller point…Not to quibble, but in terms of the analogy, I’m not sure that the “prettier stuff” part works. I’ve thought about it carefully, and tried to resist the urge to “pile on”–to rant against the shortcomings of today’s educational testing. But most of what is assessed in today’s high-stakes tests, including college entrance exams, is not particularly pretty: triangle problems based on knowing/memorizing the “special right triangle” cases; comma, semi-colon, colon usage… The drywall and paint analogy works in that it describes things that are more external/superficial, and as you point out, easier to see and assess.

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