Recent testing has shown improvement in shoe tying by fourth and eighth graders over the past two years, although the growth has been stagnant in some districts. Urban school activists, however, can be encouraged by the statistical improvement in areas with populations of 250,000 or more. This continues an upward trend that started 6 years ago when this testing began.
Urban districts still face enormous issues of poverty and large numbers of English language learners. Forty-eight percent of 4th graders tested nationwide were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. In spite of the improvements, many still point to the problem of the large shoe tying gap and the lack of properly trained teachers in urban areas.
Still others claim that they are testing the wrong things. "Kids don't want to tie their shoes", said Sarah Sandala. "The other kids would make fun of them if they did." She said she knows that the skill is important to get ahead in the world, but many kids might just decide to wear loafers. However, those in charge of the testing emphasized that some districts are willing to be held to high standards. "I think we are now safely walking on the right path.", said Dan Foote, chairman of the testing board.