“Lake Wobegon” Klein

From pp. 68-69 of Accountability Frankenstein:

The complexity of an accountability system can also help muffle opposition to accountability if it gives a reasonable chance for students or schools to be successful in the system’s labeling… the political potential to muffle opposition within a system may be more important than the technical qualities of a system, for schools typically trumpet any positive label on any website, pamphlet, or streetside marquis. All three of these states provide evidence of the capacity for complex systems to muffle dissent. In North Carolina, the majority of schools have received some recognition award in every single year of its accountability system’s history. In Florida’s system, 13% earned recognition in its first year, 1999, but that proportion rapidly grew, and a majority of schools received recognition awards in each of the years from 2003 to 2006. In California, 47% of California’s schools earned statewide recognition in 2002, and two thirds of the schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District earned recognition.

I don’t know why anyone would suspect that there is any political convenience involved in having the single letter grades assigned to a whole slew of NYC schools jump to A, but it’s not isolated to New York. It’s just that New York has overtaken Lake Wobegon as a symbol of overestimation of results. Then again, since Garrison Keillor spends several months a year in New York, maybe it’s highly appropriate.