Originally created 09/06/98

Dr. Dohrmann's 'spin' 090698 - The Augusta Chronicle



This is the age of the "spin," so it's not surprising that educators, like politicians, put the best "spin" on their stories. For example, take Columbia County School Superintendent Dr. Tom Dohrmann's comments on the Scholastic Assessment Test scores coming out of his school system.

Dohrmann blew his horn that the scores are more than 50 points above the state average of 968, but pooh-poohed that they're five points lower than what Columbia high schoolers scored last year.

"We kind of stayed the same," he said with regard to the five-point drop. "In my mind it was statistically insignificant. That could be one kid."

Not so. Lee Fails, executive director of the College Board which administers the SATs, says unless there's only five or 10 students out of the entire school system taking the tests, there's no way a five-point slippage could be attributed to one person.

It's fine that Dohrmann wants to put the best possible face on school results, but when his spin starts spilling over into falsehood, even if it's just due to careless use of words on his part, it's time for a reality check.

The reality is that, five-point drop or not, there's much for Columbia County teachers and students to be proud about. Their school system is one of the state's best, making it a huge asset in attracting new business and industry.

Middle- and upper-middle income families -- with solid family values -- who locate in the county are one of the chief reasons SAT scores are higher than most of Georgia.

With this population, the SATs Dohrmann should compare his school scores to is the national, not the state, average. By that standard, Columbia is less than 100 points up, which is truly "average."

The clarion call for an "average" school system should be to do better, not to "spin" and rationalize. There's nothing to be smug about anywhere in our nation's educational system.