I’m writing in response to District 200 board member Ralph Lee’s recent letter, lamenting the lack of local standards by which Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators can gauge academic progress [Board member says OPRF must set standards, Viewpoints, Nov. 10].

We have plenty of tools at our disposal to measure academic achievement, a point that Lee tacitly admits when he points to the recent report that 91.6 percent of Illinois high schools failed to meet federal and state standards. The problem is not a lack of standards and goals at the local level, but an inability to improve academic outcomes.

Say what you will about our health care system, but medical outcomes have improved considerably over the last several decades. And this happened not because doctors spent so much time debating just how much they want to improve cancer survival rates, but because these doctors created new interventions, procedures and drugs to make it happen.

No, the problem with our educational system is not that we lack standards for where we want test scores to be. The problem is that we lack the tools, methodologies and resources to make those improvements happen.

My advice for Lee and all of our educational leaders is this: spend all of your time and effort and work single-mindedly to improve the educational outcomes for our students. Come Election Day, I’m not going to judge the school board candidates on how well they adopted standards, but by how much they improved the education of our students.

Steve Nations
Oak Park

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