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From William Mathis at the National Education Policy Center: What teachers and parents know, and policymakers ignore….

Scientifically disproven years ago, the “Beat the Odds” myth is still the excuse of convenience for justifying claims that schools can single-handedly overcome poverty.
How it works is that statisticians comb through the test score distribution of high poverty and high minority schools, select those with the highest scores and exclaim, “See! Good teachers and schools can overcome the effects of poverty!”

In any reasonably large score distribution, there are tails (or outliers) of high and low-scoring schools. This is just elementary statistics. When researchers look at these outlier scores a couple of years later they almost invariably find the “beat the odds” schools are no longer exceptional. In Florida, Doug Harris found that only 1.1% of the so-called high flying schools were sustained high fliers. Marty Orland found that without comprehensive community support programs, high flier status is not sustained over time.

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