Friday, November 13, 2009

Testing, Not Learning

The evidence continues to pour in that the entire Bloomberg educational edifice is more smoke and mirrors rather than solid educational achievement. This story today from the NY Daily News underscores just how teaching to the test has been used as a substitute for genuine learning: "City kids' poor math skills is the result of education officials' relentless focus on test prep, the head of the teachers union charged on Thursday..."There is teaching for the test ... and there's learning. They are not the same thing," Mulgrew said. "What we're going to have is children leaving school not learning what they should be learning."

So all of that campaign advertising palaver is just that-spin that camouflages the fact that we have over spent on educational uplift; with very poor outcomes for the money laid out: "A report by the Council of Math Chairs showed some CUNY kids couldn't solve problems involving fractions, decimals and simple algebra on their first day of college math."

That doesn't, however, stop the continued cant from Cantor: "City Department of Education's David Cantor dismissed Mulgrew's criticism. "This is the first time I've heard the argument against testing used to explain students' failure on tests as well as their success," he said."

Well, there's a first time for everything Dan-and from what we hear you saying, we hope that the old axiom about you're never too old to learn applies to you as well. Because, it seems obvious to us, that an obsessive methodology of teaching to the test can account for the success as well as the failures that Cantor can't quite untangle.

The reason lies with the fact that teaching to a specific test can garner better results-for that particular test. But when confronted with a different type of exam, many of the same students-not really learned in the subject-will often become mystified and fare poorly.

Cantor himself is in need of some good and intensive remediation-and taking a paring knife to the PR budget at DOE would give this spokesman a wonderful opportunity to, as the cliche often goes in these cases, "explore other opportunities." Ones that would hopefully allow this flack to get a better grounding in real educational policy; and not the ersatz menu offerings that the Bloomberg/Klein regime sees as specialties of the house.