YOUR VIEW | Facts and Statistics

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To the editor,

Im a big fan of statistics (provided they are used properly), so your article on school performance in the April 9 edition of the Times caught my attention. After reading your article, I would like to know the answer to one relatively simple question: What percentage of schoolage children in the City of Alexandria attend private school instead of public school and T.C. Williams High School in particular? It seems that comparing Alexandria to Arlington and the rest of the Commonwealth assumes that all else is equal, and I am willing to bet that Alexandria has a greater percentage of schoolage children in private school as compared to Arlington and the rest of the Commonwealth. Im also willing to bet the dropout rate of Alexandrias private school students is very low. I dont think Alexandria public schools and T.C. Williams should be necessarily characterized as below average or mediocre unless and until these additional considerations are taken into full consideration. Statistics can be abused, and I think this is one example of where statistics could be used to reach a false conclusion.

Also, even if the statistics are normalized to account for private school education, the article seems to overlook bright spots in that black students, white students, Asian students, other students, and limited English proficient students outperformed their peers statewide.

Can and should T.C. Williams do what it can to improve its dropout statistics, particularly for Hispanic students and students with disabilities? Yes. But, lets get complete information and not overlook the unique demographics of our community before casting judgment on the public school system in Alexandria.

I would sincerely appreciate a follow-up report, if possible.

Rob Pilaud
Alexandria

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