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Our Readers Respond

National Student Clearinghouse Correction

Thank you for including the National Student Clearinghouse in your article about graduate data to assess achievement ("Are Your Graduates Succeeding in College?" April 2011). However, the story inaccurately stated that the Clearinghouse follows "employment information through the IRS."

The Clearinghouse does not collect or report on employment information from the IRS or any other entity. Our database contains postsecondary enrollment, degree and certification information, which is reported by the colleges and universities that participate in the Clearinghouse.

Kathleen Dugan

Marketing Director

National Student Clearinghouse

A Superintendent's Record under Fire

We received several letters from readers disputing some facts, especially student achievement results, in an online column by Tom Payzant ("Students Need Stable Leadership," April 2011) that referred to the former Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and why her contract was terminated. Here are some of them.

Goodloe-Johnson did not leave because someone lower on the food chain didn't give proper oversight to a con artist working in our district. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. It was clear she was trying to hide bad news from our school board, although an investigation said she did not know the extent of the situation and was not involved in the activities. A state audit investigation and a school board investigation said her leadership oversight was lacking. Our district lost at least $2 million because of this scandal.

The most egregious item that Professor Payzant did NOT acknowledge is that he was hired by the Seattle school board to guide one of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's evaluations.

Melissa Westbrook

Save Seattle Schools blog

Our independent investigation found that while Dr. Goodloe-Johnson appears to have had no complicity in the misappropriation of funds, her lack of oversight contributed to its occurrence and perpetuation. As such, the board held her accountable and voted to terminate her employment. Our action was in no way a "cover" for an opposition to education reform as suggested by Mr. Payzant. Although we felt the need to part ways, we respect the work that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson completed at Seattle Public Schools, and we wish her well in her future endeavors.

Steve Sundquist


Seattle Board of Education

The premise of Mr. Payzant's article only showed a correlation between superintendent tenure and student achievement, not a causal relationship. If any causal relationship exists, I would reckon that higher achievement by the students led to extended employment by the superintendent rather than the other way around, as Mr. Payzant hypothesizes.

Charlie Mas

Father of two high school students

Seattle Public Schools

Erica Lepping from the Broad Foundation responds: Nothing in such letters disputes the point Tom makes: that publicly available data shows that Maria raised student achievement in Seattle faster than it rose in most other large urban school districts nationwide between 2007 and 2009. Seattle outperformed or outimproved more than 70 other large urban school districts nationwide under Maria's leadership.

Payzant adds: If you look at the distribution of student results and improvement rates on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning across school districts in Washington, you'll see that between 2007 and 2009, Seattle students not only improved in reading and math at nearly every school level, but their growth outpaced three-quarters of other school districts in Washington.