Standards, Testing & Accountability

The latest SAT scores are out today, and as I remarked to Nick Anderson at the Washington Post, education reform appears to be hitting a wall in high school.

In truth, we already knew this. The SATs aren’t even the best gauge—not all students take them, and those who do are hardly representative.

But a variety of sources show much the same thing. Twelfth-grade NAEP: Flat. Long-term NAEP for seventeen-year-olds: Flat. ACT scores: Flat. Percentage of college-ready graduates: Flat.

What makes this so disappointing is that NAEP shows respectable gains for younger students, especially in fourth grade and particularly in math. Yet these early gains seem to evaporate as kids get older.

Here’s what that looks like using data from the long-term trend NAEP for three recent student cohorts. Progress at ages nine and thirteen hasn’t translated into progress at age seventeen.

*Note: This shows, for example, that when members of the graduating high school class of 2004 were nine years old (in 1996), they scored 231 on the long-term trend NAEP. Since there was no...

Most of the sturm und drang over Common Core has centered on the politics of the standards’ creation and adoption. The bigger problem—much bigger—was always going to be implementation. This new brief from the Education Trust offers a glimpse of how it’s going. Alas, the answer is not very well.

An analysis of middle school classroom assignments finds that most “do not reflect the high-level goals” set by Common Core. This, the report suggests, demonstrates where teachers are in their understanding of the higher standards. Among the sobering data points: A mere 6 percent of the assignment fell into the high range of Education Trust’s analysis framework, and fewer than 40 percent of assignments were aligned with grade-appropriate standards at all. “It’s time for an honest conversation about where we are in implementing the standards,” the report concludes.

Hear, hear—but some important caveats must be noted. The study was conducted at six middle schools spread across two urban districts in two states. Given Education Trust’s focus on equity and the achievement gap, this is not surprising; however, it may not be representative of K–12 education at large. It’s also interesting that more than half of the assignments reviewed came from...

Natalie Wexler

Standardized tests are commonly blamed for narrowing the school curriculum to reading and math. That’s one reason Congress is considering changes in the law that could lead states to put less emphasis on test scores. But even if we abolished standardized tests tomorrow, a majority of elementary schools would continue to pay scant attention to subjects like history and science.

Consider this: In 1977, twenty-five years before No Child Left Behind ushered in the era of high-stakes testing, elementary school teachers spent only about fifty minutes each day on science and social studies combined. True, in 2012, they spent even less time on those subjects—but only by about ten minutes.

The root cause of today’s narrow elementary curriculum isn’t testing, although that has exacerbated the trend. It’s a longstanding pedagogical notion that the best way to teach kids reading comprehension is by giving them skills—strategies like “finding the main idea”—rather than instilling knowledge about things like the Civil War or human biology.

Many elementary students spend hours practicing skills-based strategies, reading a book about zebras one day and a story about wizards the next.

That’s a problem for...

NOTE: This is the Foreword from Fordham’s latest report, released today.

Over the past few years, states across the nation have undertaken big changes in public education—a system reboot, if you will. Policymakers have raised academic standards, toughened up exams, and demanded stronger results from schools. Like other states, Ohio has also put into place a standards and accountability framework with the clear goal of readying every student for college or career when she graduates high school.

It’s no secret that a flood of controversy has accompanied these changes. The Common Core, a set of college-and-career ready standards in math and English language arts, has been the subject of great debate. Yet the Common Core remains in place in Ohio and at least forty other states. States have also adopted next-generation assessments aligned to these standards, though the rollout of the new exams has been rocky. As a result of these transitions, Ohio policymakers have temporarily softened accountability and slowed the implementation of new school report cards.

Given the difficulty of these changes, one may ask why we conducted an overhaul in the first place. Why must states, including Ohio, see through the full and faithful implementation of educational...

Only math and reading teachers in grades 4–8 receive evaluations based on value-added test results. For all other teachers—80 percent of them in Ohio—it’s on to Plan B. To evaluate these teachers, schools are using alternative measures of student growth, which include vendor assessments (commercial, non-state exams) and student learning objectives (SLOs, or teacher-designed goals for learning). But how are these alternative measures being administered? What are their pros and cons? The research on this issue is terribly thin, but a new study from the Institute of Education Sciences casts an intriguing ray of light. Through in-depth interviews, the researchers elicited information on how eight mid-Atlantic districts (unnamed) are implementing alternative measures.

Here are the study’s four key takeaways: First, educators considered vendor assessments (with results analyzed through a form of value-added modelling) to be a fairer and more rigorous evaluation method than SLOs. Second, both alternative measures yielded greater variation in teacher performance than observational methods alone. Third, implementing SLOs in a consistent and rigorous manner was extremely difficult. In fact, the authors write, “All types of stakeholders expressed concern about the potential for some teachers to ‘game the system’ by setting easily attainable...

Editor's note: This post originally appeared in a slightly different form at InsideSources.

The United States is blessed to have many excellent schools. That includes hundreds of fantastic high schools, such as those that recently received recognition from Newsweek. And our high schools as a whole deserve credit for helping to push America’s graduation rate to all-time highs.

However, there is still an enormous gap between the aspirations of America’s students and the education our public school system is equipped to provide. Put simply, almost all young people today want to go to college (including technical colleges), but only about one-third are graduating with the adequate reading and math skills to be successful once on campus.

Not all of the blame for that chasm can be placed at the doors of our high schools. Too many students are reaching ninth grade who are barely literate and numerate. Yet at a time when student achievement is rising at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels, but not in twelfth grade, it’s fair to ask whether high schools are doing all they can to help teenagers make real academic progress while under their care.

Part of the problem is that most of our cities continue to house huge,...

The Education Trust recently responded to two analyses in which I looked at the relationship between  overall and disadvantaged subgroup performance at an individual school level. To summarize their critique, they suggest that even minor differences between overall and subgroup ratings warrant serious concern in an accountability context—possibly including sanctions. For example, a school carrying an overall A rating, but a C rating for disadvantaged students, could be considered to be “growing the achievement gap” and thus in need of an intervention.

Their approach, however, fails to recognize that in school rating systems, a one- or even two-rating deviation may not reflect significant differences in performance. Bear in mind that with growth results, we’re dealing with statistical estimates of learning gains that also include a margin of error. In some cases, schools receive different letter grades, but their underlying growth results aren’t distinguishable from each other.

Consider an example using one school’s overall and subgroup results (Chart 1). As you can see, the range of plausible values for the gains made by all overlap with those made by low-achieving students. As such, we cannot rule out the possibility that the two groups’ gains are actually identical. We...

When Governor Kasich signed the budget on June 30, two significant changes to Ohio’s assessment system became law. First, safe harbor was extended through the 2016 17 school year; second, PARCC ceased to be Ohio's state test. Soon after the ink was dry, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced that the state would use tests developed in consultation with AIR for all subjects during the 2015–16 school year. (AIR provided Ohio’s science and social studies assessments in 2014–15 and also developed Ohio’s former tests—the OAA and OGT.)

Throughout the month of July, questions loomed surrounding what these tests would look like, how they would be administered, and when teachers and school leaders would receive preparation resources. Not all of those questions have been answered, but some have. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.

Test features

For many people, one of the most attractive aspects of the new ELA and math assessments is that they are shorter than PARCC tests. While PARCC tests are (depending on subject and grade level) around four or five hours each, the state tests that Ohio students will take this year will last approximately...

  • Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn made a promise to his members this spring. When it came to fighting pay cuts and stemming the growth of the city’s charter sector, he claimed, “Nobody is going to stand in my way.” As it turned out, nobody had to. To the relief of virtually every responsible grown-up between the Great Lakes and the Rockies, Conn was found guilty of misconduct by the DFT executive board and shown the door last week, the inevitable end to a seven-month reign of futility. Elected in January following a fiery confrontation with more conciliatory union leaders, he pledged to defend union prerogatives even if it meant taking on the mayor, the public schools manager, and the governor of Michigan. Instead, he alienated everyone outside his tiny klatch of supporters and watched the union descend into factionalism. Detroit Public Schools is one of the most financially troubled districts in the country, paying out nearly thousands of dollars every day in annuity interest. For the sake of public education in the city as well as the best interests of its members, DFT needs to be headed by a savvy, sensible president—not the Tony Montana
  • ...

The data-driven edition

An education policy summit, school integration, 2015's Education Next poll, and higher education's effect on Hispanic and black wealth.

Amber's Research Minute

SOURCE: William R. Emmons and Bryan J. Noeth, "Why Didn't Higher Education Protect Hispanic and Black Wealth?", Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Issue 12 (August 2015).

Mike Petrilli: Hello, this is your host Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute here at The Education Gadfly Show and online at Now please join me in welcoming my co-host, a man who is a citizen by birthright, Robert Pondiscio.

Robert Pondisico:    As opposed to an immigrant?

Mike :             I'm just saying that's in the news this week. Birthright citizenship up for grabs again.

Robert:           You've gone Trump on us.

Mike :             No, I haven't gone Trump. Trump has gone Trump. Scott Walker, it sounds like has gone Trump. What is going on? These are the days when I think to myself, well, look, we've had a rough go with the Common Core, but at least I'm not leading an organization that is working on immigration reform, because then I would have to poke my eyes out with two pencils instead of just with one.

Robert:           With a number two pencil.

Mike :             I mean, really? We're going to reconsider whether we're going to do birthright citizenship? We're going to repeal the fourteenth amendment? Somebody asked me today, "What would be the best thing that could happen for the cause of civic education in America?" My spontaneous answer was, "President Trump."

Robert:           Wow. What a hard civics lesson that would be. 

Mike :             Yeah. I just worry that by the time we came around to learning that lesson, that it would be too late. Let us be clear that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a non-person organization. We do not take positions on candidates. We do not endorse ... We are not without opinions. We have opinions. We're allowed to have opinions and express those opinions and that is what this show is about. Expressing opinions. Except for Amber's Research Minute which is about research. Our opinions.

Robert:           Totally fact-driven.

Mike :             Our evidence based opinions, Robert. At least mine are.

Robert:           Some on my better days.

Mike :             Yes. Let's get to it. Let's play pardon the Gadfly, the evidence based edition. Clara, go for it.

Clara :             Campbell Brown is hosting education policy themed GOP summit in New Hampshire this week. What are some of the themes you're hoping the candidates race?

Mike :             I'm glad you asked Clara. I happen to have six themes in mind for 2016. You see how that just rolls off the tongue?

Robert:           Not four, not five.

Mike :             Six for 2016.

Robert:           Oh, I see.

Mike :             Look, by the time folks are listening to this, the summit will be history and we'll certainly be following along, excited to hear what these six candidates have to say. I wish it were a real debate where they were up there on the stage together, but it won't be. It's one-on-one questions. Campbell Brown versus these various candidates. We do hope that they address some of these ideas that we put out this week. Fordham six teams for 2016 including ... Are you ready?

Robert:           I am.

Mike :             Number one. Educational reform is working.

Robert:           Stay the course, as a previous GOP candidate.

Mike :             Look, this one is something that we don't hear people saying enough, but we think is important. That we now feel like ... Look, you look at the evidence, you look at twenty years of data now and the trend lines are pointing the right direction. Not as fast as we'd like, not always broad as we'd like. Some of these candidates were former governors or are governors today. They can point in their own states where they've had some impressive progress. At a time when there are so many nay-sayers out there complaining about education reform, saying, "It's too hard, it's too this, it's too that." It's important I think to have the political leaders stand up and say, "Hey, you know what? This stuff is hard, but we are finally starting to see some results from testing and accountability and school choice and these other reforms we've put together. That is the number one idea. We don't have time for all six, so let's go down to number six. Robert, this is really your baby. Civic education.

Robert:           Yeah. There you go. Yeah. I think this is important. I've written a lot about this over the years. We're used to talking about education in terms of college and career readiness. I'm the guy who's always saying, "Hey, there's a third C. It's called citizenship." Or as I used to joke, "Horace Mann probably went to his grave never once having uttered the phrase, 'College and career ready.'" He had a different idea in mind for public education. It was preparation for citizenship. That's where we've gotten way way far away from this public idea.

Mike :             Yeah. It would be great to have the candidates talk about it. Which is not to say that they need to propose some kind of federal program to ban citizenship. At this stage in the campaign, at this stage in the political primary season, the point is just to have folks talking about important issues. They don't have to come out with specific policy proposals yet. When they do, I hope they tread lightly on most of these things. I mean, citizenship. You could do the NAEP’s Civics Exam more frequently, for example.

Robert:           You could do it more frequently as down to just 8th grade. We never had state by state data on civics and we have no idea who the Massachusetts is of civics so to speak. The larger concern is if you think that we have a problem in this country in reading and math, well compare that to civics results. Which makes our reading and math performance look robust.

Mike :             Check all that out at You can find our six education themes for 2016 there. Topic number two.

Clara :             Both the Tampa Bay Times and This American Life are getting lots of kudos for doing hard hitting stories about cities giving up on school integration efforts. Is desegregation about to make a comeback? Should it?

Mike :             Robert, this is sometimes about the one-year anniversary of the Ferguson riots. There's also the fiftieth anniversary of the Watts riots. Giving people a lot of excuses like they need excuses. My sense is education reporters love writing about segregation. They love writing about this problem and certainly there's evidence that our neighborhoods, if you look metro areas as a whole, that the cities are getting more diverse. In other words, white people are starting to move back in again. Suburbs are getting more diverse as in minorities are moving out to the suburbs. If you look neighborhood by neighborhood, many of those neighborhoods are segregated as they've ever been.

Robert:           If not, more so. Folks listening to us are all across the country, but thanks to this thing called the World Wide Web you can go on and listen or read these stories. There was this withering piece in the Tampa Bay Times about Pinellas County Florida. This is just from memory but I think they profiled five schools which were fairly good schools ten years ago. Now, they are among the worst schools in the entire state. It's a withering indictment of local control frankly. We love local control as much as anybody.

Mike :             Not as much.

Robert:           Okay. Maybe there are some. However, it is absolute just indictment of the school board in this county just for willing desegregating their schools and turning these five schools in particular into, as they say, failure factory.

Mike :             What was it? Before that they had some sort of busing policy or that they had some polices in place to try to bring in more white students and those policies went away.

Robert:           I believe they were under a court order. Exactly. Once that was lifted, then they went back. Guess what they described what they were doing? They didn't say they were desegregating the schools. What did they say they were doing?

Mike :             Going to neighborhoods.

Robert:           Neighborhood schools, of course.

Mike :             Here's what's tricky, Robert, That is what parents, white, black, Latino. They always say they want neighborhood schools. Right.

Robert:           Sure.

Mike :             The busing thing was clearly a disaster in terms of the long-term consequences arguably led to white flight. Huge political ruckus. As much as I support the role of integration and I wrote a whole book about this and have been writing about this for many years. The evidence on school integration in terms of leading to student achievement gains is pretty weak. Now people out there are going to start screaming, "How dare you say that." When you go and you dig in, there are very few studies out there about school integration that can deal with selection bias.

                        Most of the studies out there say African-American kids or low-income kids that are in these more integrated settings, they do better. They score better. They do better long-term. Therefore, it must be because the school is integrated. Well, let me ask you this. Do you think there might be something different between African-American kids who find themselves in integrated schools and African-American kids who don't? Isn't is possible that the kids who find themselves in highly segregated schools, that their families are more disadvantaged. That there is coverages that we're not measuring in these.

                        We don't have random assignment studies that have been able to really look at this. I think that there are some like my friend Rick Kahlenberg who overstate the evidence that if only we could integrate our schools, we would erase the achievement gap or we would narrow it dramatically. I think if we integrated our schools it would be good for America. I don't have a clear idea about how to do it. Even if we did it, I think we have to be pretty humble about what we've seen through student achievement results.

Robert:           Of course. This is also not to say that a segregated school is de facto a poor school. Especially the charter sector. There's a lot of schools out there that serve almost exclusively low-income kids of color and do quite well by them. This is not axiomatic by any stretch of the imagination. It's just a heartbreaking account of ... You read this account of the Tampa Bay Times about these five schools. Another good argument for school choice, by the way. Give these kids something. Do not leave them in these schools.

Mike :             Again, what if their parents choice this? They'll say, "I want neighborhood ..."

Robert:           Sure, sure. That explained the move in 2007. Now there are parents in these schools screaming, "Please do something."

Mike :             Clara, do something and read question number three.

Clara :             The latest Ed Next poll was released this week. Should readers be surprised by any of findings, especially related to the opt-out movement in Common Core?

Mike :             Lots to dig into on this one. Our own Checker Finn wrote something up on the blog. Major findings support for Common Core has continued to go down. Those seem to have stabilized.

Robert:           Incrementally.

Mike :             Stabilized somewhat. There's some nuances. If you don't use the term Common Core, it does better. Interesting. If you describe it as being used to hold schools accountable, Republicans like it more and teachers like it less.

Robert:           We want high standards, just not those high standards.

Mike :             That's all very interesting. Not a lot of support for opting out which is surprising. Right?

Robert:           Those of us who live and word inside the edu bubble assume that this is this big thing. Maybe not so much.

Mike :             Right. Again, most parents haven't opted out, so maybe that's why. Support for things like charters and vouchers and tax credits and all the rest still high, but somewhat lower this year. They asked some new questions including, for example, on discipline. This is something that's been very interesting. People out there are generally not so excited about this idea of looking at the proportionality of discipline policies.

Robert:           So-called discipline impact.

Mike :             Right. What else? What else did you see is as cause for concern or excitement or ...

Robert:           Checker of course is dismissive in things.

Mike :             Drinking heavily.

Robert:           There's always room for that, Mike. Especially here in the podcast. Checker was a little bit acid in his take that basically the American public just doesn't know what they're talking about when it comes to schools.

Mike :             Then again, Checker Finn has always been an east coast elitist. He just generally thinks ...

Robert:           He went there. He went there.

Mike :             Checker has always basically believed that most Americans are stupid. That's why he's committed his life to education reform. He's trying to fix that problem.

Robert:           You can't fix stupid, Mike. Come on.

Mike :             It's true. We're going to explain that. It is true. People are terribly uninformed about things like how much we spend in our schools or pay teachers.

Robert:           That's true, but that's nothing new. Right? One of the questions ... I don't have the data in front of me. Ed Next basically determined that most people have no sense whatsoever not only what their schools pay per student but where that money comes from. Is it the feds, is it the state, etc. One of the things I found interesting ... I think this is new. You've been a long-time editor for Ed Next. I'm just a reader. There's some polling questions this year about curriculum which basically showed that parent want more reading and math. Teachers want more art and history. Nobody seems to want more sports.

                        I guess the message has gotten out there that our school emphasize things like sports a little bit too much. I'm the guy of course who's always saying, "Teach all these subjects." Teach them well because that is reading. That is literacy. I'm always pleased any time an organization like Ed Next or anybody is paying attention to what kids actually do all day in school. Because as I've said on the podcast, ad nauseam, we tend to focus on the structures around education. I'm the guy who says, "Hey, what are kids learning? Because that matters too."

Mike :             It does and it's good that there's support for teachers out there. Now all you got to do ... This is the big question. Robert and I talk about this all the time. Why do elementary school teachers in particular feel like they cannot teach history? They cannot teach science. They can't teach art and music. We're not going to answer that here, but the point is maybe there's more evidence that they really do want to teach those things and we want to tell those teachers ... The teachers that are listening today.

Robert:           Pleas teach things. Absolutely. Knowledge is literacy. All subjects.

Mike :             Okay. Thank you. That's all the time we've got for pardon the Gadfly. Now it's time for everyone's favorite, Amber's Research Minute. Welcome back to the show.

Amber :          Thank you, Mike.

Mike :             We have promised this to be an evidenced based Research Minute.

Amber :          I love that.

Mike :             We were saying earlier that we're mostly an opinion show, though evidence based opinions. When it comes to you, it is just the facts.

Amber :          I try to bring them every week. Sometimes I'm more successful than others.

Robert:           Amber, bring in the.

Amber :          All right. We've got a new study out by Center for Household Financial Stability. How's that one?

Robert:           Never heard of them.

Amber :          Never heard of them. Anyway, they some research on family savings and debt. Okay? It's a descriptive study, so keep that in mind. It's mainly just reporting on survey findings. There is not any fancy statistics here, but it's really interesting stuff. It's the survey of consumer finance. All right? It's some big national consumer survey.

Robert:           There's an education angle.

Amber :          There is. 2013 edition. The headline is the attainment of a college education does not appear to protect to the wealth of all American families equally. That's the big headline. All right. Here are the findings. Number one. College educated families. They define that as the head of the household has a college degree.

Robert:           Four-year?

Amber :          Four-year. Earns significantly higher income then those headed by someone without a college degree. No big surprise there.

Robert:           No big surprise there.

Amber :          The median income among all families headed by a college graduate is two point four times the median income among families headed by a non-college graduate. Okay? Finding number two. The median wealth of all families headed by college grads declined by twenty-four percent between 2007 and 2013. That was obviously during the recession.

Mike :             Wealth.

Amber :          Wealth, not income. Wealth. That's right. That means their assets, their house, their car, their everything.

Robert:           Okay. We had a big asset dip around 2008.

Amber :          Wealth. We did. The decline among families without college degrees was forty-eight percent. Next finding. Higher education appears to protect wealth during turbulent economic times, but mostly just among white and Asian families, is one of their findings which seemed a little odd. Here was their factoid. Specifically over the long-term, so this was 1990 to 2013, the median net worth of families differed by race. The net worth of white families led by college completers, rose about eight-six percent over these two decades. While the net worth of Asians rose ninety percent. Yet, the median net worth of black families led by college completers, dropped nearly fifty-six percent. A comparable figure for Hispanic families was twenty-seven percent.

Robert:           They attempt to diagnose what?

Amber :          They do. I'm getting to that. It was then examined the typical debt to income ratio for families in 2007. This was right before the Great Depression. They looked at their debt to income ratio. All right. DIT. Okay? The DIT ratios among college educated Hispanics and black families were far higher than for Asians or whites. For example, the typical DTI for a college educated black family was a hundred and forty percentage points higher than the typical DTI ratio of non-college educated black families. We're comparing black family college educated household to black family not led by a college educated head of household. Comparable figure for Hispanics is hundred points. For whites, fifty-four points. All right.

                        Then, they get into some more interesting stuff. Then, they start talking about, try to get to the why question, Robert. They say the housing boom between 2007 and 2013, it basically went extra bust on minority families. Because they started looking at declines in the average values of homes. Those values of homes among college educated Hispanics and blacks was forty-five and fifty-one percent decline respectively among those two groups. The decline in the average home value was twenty-five percent among college educated white families. They posit that ... Then, they look at actually whether the trends in income and wealth mirror each other. In come cases they don't. The trend lines are going different ways.

Robert:           Housing.

Amber :          Housing . They said they think that it's the financial choices that are driving some of these trends more than income fluctuations. This is obviously very complicated. It's complex. This is a lot rooted in a bunch of different things. One takeaway seemed clear to them which is borrowing too much either for college or to buy a home could very well chip away at the likelihood of you maintaining the American dream.

Robert:           I'm not a housing expert, but is it now also true that you'll see more fluctuation in housing heavily minority neighborhoods? I mean this society for generations.

Amber :          I have heard that.

Mike :             The education angle here is this idea that the college degree did not protect minority families as.

Robert:           Student loan is a larger percentage of income.

Mike :             I think that can be part of it. This was in the New York Times. Some of the spin was a) maybe college isn't as good at upper mobility as we thought. I think we have to be careful here. There's still tons of evidence that you're better off ...

Amber :          With a college degree.

Mike :             The majority of minority is poor and you can get a four-year college degree, you are in general better off. That's looking at income. That's getting you out of poverty. That doesn't mean that you're going to catch up to other wealthier groups. The wealth thing is obviously something passed down from generation to generation. There's a huge difference between whites and Asians on one hand and many African-Americans. You know what I'm saying? In terms of what people are inheriting.

Robert:           The time frame 2007 to 2013 had that huge anomaly of the great recession that you're alluded to as well. If you look at the large time horizon, then maybe some of that's mitigated.

Amber :          Yeah. I think that's right, Mike. They talk about that a little bit in the report and in the news, that was the spin on it too. There's some data I think that actually document that wealth is passed down through being able to afford college tuition obviously. You leave your house to your kids or whatever. That makes a real difference relative to this intergenerational trends that we see.

Mike :             The other one, last lesson for us is I certainly remember the mid-2000s of the Bush administration. As have been the case of left and right for many years, was pushing very hard on trying to close the gap in home ownership. The racial gaps in home ownership. Make it possible for more minorities to own their homes. The impulse was sound, made sense. Problem was that mean that there were some people that were applying for loans that they really couldn't afford. Now we understand that. We understand that a lot of the mortgage companies and such weren't being terribly honest. We have this thing. We have that same concern about the education bubble today. We want to close those gaps and college going or college completion. If minority kids as a whole are not as well prepared, are not as likely to therefore get pass remedial education. Is encouraging them to go to college and take on a lot of debt, to do so, really the smartest thing? I think there's some clear parallels here.

Amber :          Yeah. What a bummer. Honestly, just personal. My sister did not finish college, but she still had that college loan to pay back for many years. That does not go away when you don't finish college. They don't go, "Oh well, you didn't finish. No problem."

Robert:           Yep. You don't get the benefit. You do get the burden.

Amber :          Yeah. That's right.

Mike :             All right. Thank you, Amber. Thank you, Robert. That is all the time we've got for this week. Until next week.

Robert:           I'm Robert Pondiscio.

Mike :             I'm Mike Petrilli at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, signing off.