Thursday, October 15, 2009

Incontestable Fraud

We just caught the NY1 story on the national math scores; and New York City school kids have shown no improvement over the past two years-which validates all of the criticism that we, as well as others, have heaped on these over-hyped state test results, and should stimulate calls for an independent review of the entire DOE operation: "While state math test scores make it seem students are doing better in the subject, results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, released today indicate otherwise. The study shows that students in New York State have made no progress in math over the past two years. According to the state tests, fourth grade math scores rose nine point and eighth grade math scores rose 18 points. But the national test showed no improvement at all for those same grades. The NAEP is considered to be the only solid measure on whether state tests are accurate."

So apparently the entire basis of the Bloomberg contention that, through his yoeman-like efforts, the city schools have improved by leaps and bounds, is built on a fraudulent illusion: "At least one educator who spoke to NY1 said the discrepancy could mean what students are learning is not so much math as how to take state math tests. "The state tests cover less material and schools have learned to teach to the content of those tests, which makes it appear that students are learning more, but, in fact, it is really an illusion," said Dr. Aaron Pallas of Teachers College."

Now we know that the city school budget has undeniably improved-shot up by 80%, along with accompanying teacher salary raises-but as it turns out, the money hasn't been well spent; except for the dollars that were sent to the expanded public relations department at the DOE. All of which has caused embarrassment for the new state education commissioner.

As NY1 points out: "The new New York State Department of Education commissioner, David Steiner, issued a statement saying he was greatly concerned by the NAEP scores and, in particular, the discrepancies between the state and national results. He said that he would be taking action, raising the standards of the state test and revising its design, to keep test preparation from skewing the results."

And he should be-as Diane Ravitch opines today in the NY Post, heads should roll: "There's something rotten in the state Education Department. Year after year, New York officials have been claiming impressive gains in student achievement -- claims we now know to be false. Based on these misleading claims, however, tens of millions of dollars in bonuses have been handed out to teachers and principals, and thousands of students have gotten false reports about their progress."

And check out these Enron-like discrepancies: "Nationally, fourth-grade math scores on the NAEP were flat, while eighth-grade math scores were up significantly. In New York, however, there were no significant gains in either. The fabulous "gains" reported last spring, we now know, were based on dumbed-down tests and dubious scoring of the tests in Albany. By federal standards, only 40 percent of our fourth graders are proficient, not 87 percent. And among eighth graders, only 34 percent are proficient in math, not the 80 percent claimed by the state."

And what about the narrowing ethnic gaps? Never happened, it appears: "The state Education Department also misled the public about progress in narrowing racial achievement gaps. The state claims that 78 percent of black students in fourth grade are proficient in math -- but NAEP finds that only 19 percent are. In eighth grade, the state holds that 63 percent of black students are proficient; per NAEP, it's just 13 percent. Similarly, the state says that 82 percent of New York's Hispanic fourth graders are proficient, while NAEP says it is 25 percent. In eighth grade, the state says 69 percent of Hispanic students are proficient, compared to 15 percent on NAEP."

This is a scandal of the highest proportion-one that deserves a full investigation. And these national test results should require the Bloomberg campaign to pull all of its fraudulent education commercials off of the air-especially ones that continue to attack Bill Thompson's "failed leadership" of the old BOE.

Let's hope that the other national results get issued soon-in enough time to give voters food for thought. Obviously, however, the naked mayor has more than a little egg on his face-as do all his enablers in the local media who saw him clothed in educational sartorial splendor.