Mark Twain had a point when he said (or quoted someone else saying), "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." The criteria the numbers being used to evaluate and grade Utah schools, and the inflexibility of those criteria to take into account the special mission of Utah's alternative high schools, make the results dishonest and unjustifiably degrading.
When the Legislature-created grading system awarded all alternative high schools with "F" grades, it underlined the weakness in that system. When the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System results came out this week, it was frustrating to see that it also failed to put alternative high schools into a separate category with unique criteria.
How can legislators or educators believe a system is credible that recognizes no difference between traditional high schools and those created to rescue kids who have never fit the academic "norm"? Students in alternative high schools wouldn't be there unless they were close to dropping out, with near-zero grade point averages and resulting or contributing behavior problems. Graduation rates and test scores simply do not reflect the success rates in these special schools.