Merit/demerits for teachers who "raise" or "fail to raise" student test scores invite a now familiar analogy: do we blame dentists for patient cavities? blame doctors for treating people with the most difficult cases? (If you talk with medical professionals now plagued by high malpractice insurance, the answer appears more often, unfortunately, to be "yes.")
Interestingly, this morning's Sacramento Bee (free registration required) includes an article about the increased incidence of cavities and dental pain among California's children. According to the article, out of 25 states studied, California ranks 24th--"second only to Arkansas" in rates of childhood tooth decay. Sound familiar?
Unlike examination of similar stats related to test performance and literacy levels, the discussion of dental health and hygiene (the "cavity crisis") focuses on larger socio-economic factors and solutions.
A bigger picture. Imagine that.