I agree with some of the points Murray makes and I disagree with others.
In any event Murray proposes a very good idea in Chapter 5:
Hence my second proposal, for a study that would be the most expensive educational demonstration project in history and would take as much as fifteen or twenty years from beginning to end. I state in the form of a challenge to everyone who is convinced that we can tach low-ability children far more than we are currently teaching them: Put up or shut up... Here is the proposal:
select children who test low in accademic ability but are not clinically retarded--say, children with measured IQs from 80 to 95, which demarcate the 10th to 37th percentiles. Make the number of the children in the study large enough that the results cannot be explained away as an accidents of small samples. Then provide these children with the best elementary education that anyone knows how to provide. Build new facilities or renovate existing ones. Hire the best teachers and create model curriculum. Measure how well the children are doing at the end of elementary school, and compare their progress with that of other children matched for IQ, family background, and whatever other variables are considered important.
The people who conduct the experiment should be free to use any teaching techniques, any class sizes, any amount of one-on-one tutoring, and type of technological aid. They shouldn't worry about making the program financially affordable for wider application, but instead bring to bear every resource that anyone can think of, at whatever cost that will maximize the education that these children acquire. Or to put it another way, their mission is to conduct the experiment in such a way, if it fails to produce success, there will be no excuses. Only three ground rules are nonnegotiable:
- The organization that selects the experimental and control samples and tests the children must be completely independent of and isolated from the organization that conducts the experiment.
- The design must protect against teaching to the test and test-practice effects.
- The design must include a test for fadeout, conducted three years after the experimental education ends.
Great idea. Sound familiar?
That's what I thought too. So I dashed off an email to Murray informing him that we'd already done something very similar thirty years ago: Project Follow Through.
Murray wrote back that he thought something was out there (even though people kept telling him there wasn't) and hoped that Real Education would surface it. Sure enough it had and I gave him a crash course on PFT.
In the post I'll tell you what Murray predicted would be the results of this grand experiment and we'll see how well his predictions matched the results of PFT.