Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Time to Re-Test and Review

More and more it looks as if the the mayor's blustering over the unprecedented success of his mayoral control regime is just that-pure bluster. But what's getting lost in the false claims and over reaching is a simple fact-one that acts as a powerful debunker of, well, all the mayor's bunk.

Here is in a nutshell-given to us by a source with a deep knowledge of the facts and the chronology:

The biggest hoax of this administration is its appropriation of the 02-03 federal test scores. The Legislature gave Bloomberg control in June 2002; he hired Klein in August, and Klein spent that fall meeting with consultants and deciding what to do. In January 2003 (Martin Luther King Jr day), Bloomberg gave a speech to announce the reform program that would be launched the following September 2003.

At that very time, students in the city and state were taking the 2003 test. Bloomberg-Klein had done nothing, had not reorganized the system or imposed any new programs. When the test scores were released by the state in May and October 2003, there were huge gains, double-digit in many schools and districts, particularly in poor neighborhoods. Klein's reaction, according to the stories in the Times on both dates, was "muted." He did not claim credit for the big gains, as he would have looked ridiculous.

However, about two years later, as his own gains were not impressive, the DOE quietly folded the big gains of 02-03 into their claims. They now routinely take credit for the gains registered in the year before their reforms started.

Is that clear to everyone? The largest gains in the the national tests came on the heels of the expiration of old system-the bad old BOE. From 2003-07, the city results on the national tests have been flatlining; which underscores the folly and deceit involved in the trumpeting of the recent state test results. But it's even worse than that, since the gains on the state tests were actually larger in the expiring years of the BOE:

In 4th grade ELA, the % of kids reaching levels 3 & 4 from 1999-2003 increased from 32.8% to 52.5%, a gain of 19.7 percentage points. In the same subject and grade, the increase from 2003-2007 (same number of years) went from 52.5% to 56.0%, a gain of only 3.5 percentage points. Since then, it has increased to 68.9% (2009); a gain from 2003-2009 of 16.5 percentage points (on dumbed-down tests). But even with the dumbed-down state tests and millions spent on test prep, the gain for Bloomberg-Klein in six years still does not match the gains from 1999-2003.

How about that NY Post and NY Daily News-and Elyssa Gootman of the NY Times as well? Didn't anyone in the press who was commenting on the battle over mayoral control do any real due diligence?

In math, the kids in fourth grade meeting standards from 1999-2003 went from 49.6% to 66.7%, a gain of 17.1 points.From 2003-2007, it went from 66.7% to 74.1%, a gain of only 7.4 points. From 2007-2009, the rate meeting standards shot up to 84.9%, which gave them a gain of 18.2 points, slightly larger in six years than the pre-mayoral control gains of four years.

And then there are the invidious comparisons between the state and national tests-stark differences when the middle school results are examined. Here's where the Enron style accounting becomes most suspicious:

IN EIGHTH GRADE, a different story (if you believe it, since it is inconsistent with NAEP).In ELA, 8th grade rate of meeting standards declined from 1999-2003, from 35.3 to 32.6%. From 2003-2007, it rose from 32.6 to 41.8%. From 2003-2009, it went from 32.6 to 57.0%. NAEP, however, says that there was no gain at all in 8th grade reading from 2003-2007; and that NYC was the only city tested where scores in this grade actually declined for black and Hispanic kids.

Frankly, the unbelievable gains in math on state scores are a reflection of lowered standards; I am willing to take bets that NAEP will not show comparable gains. Remember that on NAEP, the 8th grade showed no significant gains from 03-07.

So what we really see here is a fraud perpetrated on a gullible press and a spin doctored public-victims of a multi-million dollar ad campaign designed to obfuscate the truth: the Bloomberg miracle is a hoax, and needs to be exposed by, not only the Thompson campaign, but by a press corps that needs to recapture its lost watch dog status.