Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chancellor Klein Enhances His Image

According to Juan Gonzalez, Chancellor Klein forgets when he purges test ESL students from his test scores. But when they come back and get factored in, he remembers them all day long. In fact, 30,000 more ESL students were counted this year than last:

Fred Smith was outraged when he heard Klein's explanation. Smith, you see, spent three decades analyzing tests for our city's school system, so he knows a thing or two about how chancellors paint the prettiest picture for the public.

"They never told you that back in 2005, during the mayoral race, the school district quietly increased the number of exemptions for ELL kids and then claimed a record boost in scores," Smith said.

That year, Bloomberg and Klein announced "the highest one-year gains ever achieved" by city fourth-graders, a more than 10% increase in those scoring at or above grade level.

But, as Smith noted, Bloomberg and Klein never mentioned in any press release that the city had dramatically increased the number of immigrant students exempted from the test that year. Some children had been in the school system as long as five years and were still being exempted from regular state tests.

Gonzalez said Klein had photos with circles and arrows and paragraphs to be used as evidence against them. And despite all the hoopla, he remained unimpressed (as do I).

Closing their neighborhood schools (Take that, non-English speakers!)and busing ESL kids all over the city is highly unlikely to hasten their acquisition of English. Language acquisition is not as much about intelligence as wanting to fit in and be part of something. Kids who have to wake up at four in the morning to take a bus, a train, and a brisk run to Far Far Away Middle School are not likely to be unexpectedly break out singing "I Love New York."

"They all try to make things look better than they are to further their own ambitions," said Smith, who is now writing a book on how public schools doctor test results. Bloomberg and Klein just "have better public relations" than previous administrations, he said.

Gonzalez gets straight to the heart of the matter. Test scores from this administration are best sampled with a grain of salt.

Or more, if possible.
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