Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Testing, Testing...One, Two, Three

More evidence of fraud in the city's school testing regime has just come in-and as the NY Post headlines, it's "fuzzy math" all over: "New York City fourth- and eighth-graders have made little if any improvement since 2007 on the "gold standard" national math test -- prompting critics to question the hefty gains city kids made on state math tests over that same period. Just 35 percent of city fourth-graders scored proficiently this year on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a tick up from the 34 percent who did so in 2007. Twenty-six percent of eighth-graders also met that benchmark this year -- up 4 points since 2007."

The contrast with the watered down state tests couldn't be more stark-as UFT head Mulgrew points out: "By comparison, city fourth-graders' proficiency jumped by 10.8 percentage points since 2007 on the state math tests -- to 84.9 percent meeting or surpassing that benchmark. Eighth-graders made an even more dramatic gain of 25.7 percentage points since 2007 on the state math tests -- to 71.3 percent scoring proficiently. "We have had eight years of relentless focus on test prep for the state examinations that has led to sharply rising scores on those tests," said teachers' union president Michael Mulgrew. "But the NAEP, the most respected test, shows that our students have actually made very small gains."

The purple faced critic that you might glimpse today at city hall will be the guy who will be holding his breath waiting for the avalanche of criticism that will most certainly be heaped on Mike Bloomberg's head for being the perpetrator of this massive fraud. Imagine if Rudy Giuliani-or, even worse, David Dinkins-had been the leader to run as an educational reformer on such trumped up evidence of success?

But here's a guy, with one of the biggest carbon footprints of any single individual, flying over to Copenhagen on his private jet as a total poseur on global warming-even while he continues to promote massive car dependent real estate developments like the ones at Willets Point and the Kingsbridge Armory. So what's a little test hypocrisy for a guy like this?

It would all be rather funny if it wasn't for the fact that the both the voters who swallowed the Bloomberg election propaganda, and the tax payers who will have to pay for it, are getting hosed by the educational malpractice. As the NY Times also points out (with a misleading headline that minimizes the testing chicanery): "New York City’s fourth and eighth graders showed no notable improvement on federal math exams this year compared with 2007, the last time the tests were given, according to scores released on Tuesday. The results differ sharply from the city’s performance on state-administered tests, which have shown large gains for the city in the last couple of years. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg frequently cited the state tests during his campaign for re-election, and he had predicted that the city’s results on the federal exams would show “great progress.”

The gap-something that we have harped on throughout the campaign-should be the grounds for a consumer recall-the product New York school parents were sold was simply defective; and the racial gap widened as well: "Perhaps more significantly for the city, the gap among ethnic groups has hardly budged. Although the gap between black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian counterparts narrowed on the state tests, it widened slightly on the federal tests, as Asian students continued to post higher scores than other ethnic and racial groups."

Joel Klein-the Elmer Gantry of school reform-continued to try to sell these miserable results by showing, we guess, that NYC was doing better than Yonkers or Buffalo-some consolation for the testing charade: "But the federal tests have put Mr. Klein in the nettlesome position of having to explain the discrepancies of the results. In a presentation sent to reporters, Mr. Klein included several charts that separated the city from the rest of the state, showing that the percentage of city students who reached proficiency in fourth grade had increased by 14 points since 2003. The rest of the state, according to the city, had improved by just four percentage points."

This is all definitely a "lying eyes" moment for the DOE's stellar leader-someone who hadn't stepped foot in a public school classroom for forty years until he was picked to lead the city's schools. It is left to State Ed Chancelor Merryl Tisch to speak the truth over the Klein flim flamming: "I don’t believe that anyone who looks at these scores, that anyone can say they understand the full picture,” Ms. Tisch said. She said it was particularly frustrating that despite an increase in resources and efforts, black and Hispanic students continued to lag. “Right now it doesn’t look like much of what we are doing has done anything much for our children,” she said."

Or as school critic Diane Ravitch told the Times-and she deserves the last word for her understated summation: “There’s no miracle here.”