Monday, October 19, 2009

School Achievement: InTestate

Well, even the NY Post, the paper that has led the cheers for the "Bloomberg miracle" in education, now has to admit that the tests used to measure the success of city school children don't pass the smell test: "City schoolkids may be making progress -- but compared to what?
Federal test scores this week cast serious doubt on state results that suggest big gains in New York, including in the city. The feds say just 40 percent of fourth graders cut it in math -- not 80 percent, as Albany claims. And only 34 percent of eighth graders are up to snuff -- versus 87 percent, in the state's account. Worse, New York's fourth graders are actually below their level of two years ago on the federal exam, despite huge "gains" on the state test. (City kids' national test results are due next month.)"

But the Post doesn't go so far as to admit that its boosterism for mayoral control was built on a very questionable foundation-and even tries to find a Klein-like silver lining in the results: "Still, a more comprehensive breakdown of state results this week gives plenty of reason for city kids to cheer. Going by actual average test scores, the five boroughs ranked in the bottom six counties in the state in 2002. This year, Queens kids are in the top quarter of all counties, with Staten Island not far behind. Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx have also posted big gains."

So let's get this straight. The gold standard national tests show either flatlining or retrogression-but we can cheer how well we're doing compared to, say, Yonkers-or Eire County? This is really all so lame. As the Post's own conclusions underscore: "Still, New Yorkers need a clear, reliable measure of student achievement. When state and national testing methods produce such starkly discrepant pictures, folks logically conclude that one -- if not both -- must be wrong. It hardly instills confidence."

How about the fact that we have a mayor running for re-election and handing out large teacher bonuses based on the word the Post is wont to use-fraud! Those who, like the Post and the NY Daily News, hyped the success of the mayoral control regime in purple prose, have the obligation to, not only issue strong mea culpas, but to now hold Bloomberg and Klein responsible for the scam.

Don't hold your breathe for Morticia, however. In yesterday's paper, the News not only found a silver lining in the horrid national test results, it took the critics to task for their carping: "Opponents of Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have gleefully glommed onto the so-so performance by New York State kids on the most recent national math tests as supposed proof that the city's educational reforms have been just a lot of hooey. But what's hooey is that critique. The critics would have us believe that the National Assessment of Educational Progress - which shows only slight gains from 2007 to this year in eighth grade math and a slide in fourth grade math - is the only test worth believing."

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig! Memo to Mort: The national tests are the more reliable measure-and when 87% of city schools, some of whom were threatened with closure for their violent chaos, are given A or B grades, the one thing we can be sure of is that the state tests are bogus. Or, as Big Daddy put it, “Didn’t you notice the powerful and noxious odor of mendacity in this room?”

And while we're talking mendacity, the Post praise for the mayor on his educational record in today's paper could use a little more honest perspective-like the fact that any gains made could perhaps be attributed to the fact that the city's educational budget has soared; an almost 80% rise, 0r $12 billion increase. Has the cost been really been worth it? We're just saying.

All of this covering up is getting really tiresome-and we believe that the coming fiscal meltdown in the city will expose all of those-including the News and the Post-who shilled for a third Bloomberg term because of his supposed superior abilities. In the end, the Bloomberg legacy will be all about how the richest man in the city was able to promotes himself-at the expense of any really positive civic vision. Once Bloomberg is gone, no one will be able to recall very much about why we elected this guy for the likely three terms. His accomplishments, as it were, will be seen to have all of the substance of a hologram.