Friday, November 16, 2007

Klein Offers Excuses For The "F" He Received On The NAEP Exams

The NY Times picks up the story of the National Assessment of Education Progress test scores which show NYC public school students have made little-to-no progress between 2005 and 2007 on the tests.

The Times notes that the "stagnant" NAEP results are at odds with the improved state test scores over that time period and show that the city's education gains are "limited."

The Times also notes that Mayor Bloomberg has "trumpeted" the improved state test scores as "evidence that the city is setting the pace for urban school reform" but that other cities around the country - like Washington and Atlanta, for instance - have outpaced New York City on the NAEP tests, suggesting that the reforms Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have put into operation with great publicity have had little effect.

In fact, fourth-graders showed much greater improvement on the reading tests in the years before Bloomberg and Klein took control of the public school system and started experimenting with various reforms and reorganizations.

Now of course Chancellor Klein had to try and spin the NAEP numbers yesterday as a positive for the city and for the various reforms he has helped put into place.

For instance, he said that 79 percent of students in the city are performing at or above basic levels of competence, rapidly approaching the national average of 81 percent.

But the Times reports that federal officials said the slight uptick in the percentage of students reaching proficient or above in math was "statistically insignificant."

In reading, the percentage of fourth graders reaching proficient or above did not change between 2005 and 2007.

In the eighth grade, the percentage of students reaching proficient or above actually decreased by two percentage points between 2005 and 2007.

Yet Klein says these results are proof positive that progress is being made, even though urban school systems that are supposedly in shambles - like Washington, where Klein just sent one of his former deputies to clean up the mess - showed huge gains on both math and reading tests for both fourth graders and eighth graders.

So where's the accountability, Chancellor Klein?

If you and your reforms were judged by the same criteria you used to judge schools for the report cards issued last week (i.e., year-to-year progress, comparisons to similar schools and/or school systems), you would have received an F.

That's right - an F.

Not only did your test scores show little-to-no improvement from 2005 to 2007, but your performance lagged far behind similar urban school systems on both the math and reading tests for both the fourth and the eighth grades.

And yet, instead of holding yourself accountable like you are holding teachers, administrators and schools accountable, you offer lame excuses about how the system is making progress toward "basic" competence and how the dumbed-down, in-house graded state exams are better measurements of mastery anyway.

Again I say, what crap.

Michael J. Petrilli, a researcher at the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, noted that the city test scores did not seem to be improving any more than the rest of the state and said “That to me seems quite damning to the Bloomberg administration.”

He means that it's damning that after all the publicity about the reforms and after all the reorganizations and the additional standardized testing and the concessions from the pliant UFT on mayoral control, seniority rights, and grievance rights and the additional school days and the additional seat time for students and the after-school tutoring sessions for failing students and the changes to school financing that allow principals to rid themselves of veteran teachers and bring in cheaper newbies and the stepped-up efforts to fire "unsatisfactory teachers" (as reported in yesterday's Times), Bloomberg and Klein STILL can't improve the scores on the one test where the scores cannot be manipulated and the testing methodology dumbed down.

I'd have to agree.

It's too bad that all the Bloomberg/Klein shills who were waving their pom-poms last week over the release of school report cards by the NYCDOE - like the Daily News, Post and Sun editorial boards and NY Daily News columnist Errol Louis - won't be crying for accountability from Klein and Bloomberg the way they were crying for accountability from teachers, administrators and schools.
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