When guessing takes the place of knowing, something’s wrong with test scoring—certainly in the New York public schools. And the release of national test scores last month has shown the extent to which our local schools are not doing their job.
What’s happened to local test scoring to make it look better than it is? Are the alleged “improved” scores all for show? As a parent of a fourth grade student and a kindergartener, I’m concerned.
Turns out the number of answers required to pass the NY standard test has been lowered each year since 2004, when Bloomberg was elected to office. It has become so easy for a student to pass that as a recent Daily News story put, “Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to end ‘social promotion,’ sixth-graders can score high enough on state English exams to move to the next grade—just by guessing.”
The number of correct answers needed to score a Level 2 to get promoted has sunk so low, that a student can take a flyer on the multiple choice section and leave the rest of the test blank. So much for solid knowledge and—God forbid, proficiency. It looks like neither one plays a part, especially in math and reading.
In 2008, 97 percent of NYC public schools received a grade of A or B on the city report cards. The improvement was driven by broad gains on NY standardized tests in math and English. This year, the number of NYC students who met state standards jumped to 82 percent in math. In English, 69 percent of students passed.
Today, records show that in New York City public schools, only 29 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading, a performance that is well below the national average. According to the national test, New York City eighth graders have shown no significant reading improvement since they began taking the test in 2003. Only 22 percent of New York City eight graders are proficient in reading.
These results differ sharply from the city’s performance on state administered tests. Mayor Bloomberg has used the results from the state tests to deliver grades of A through F for schools and to determine teacher and principal bonuses. Last month, the mayor said Schools Chancellor Joe Klein would begin using the results from the students’ tests as a factor in decisions on tenure for teachers.
Mayor 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.”
But who is going to remember what was said during a campaign?
Our education system is an embarrassment to all parents, and the rosy misinformation that it provides is proving even more harmful to children.
Still on fire,