Friday, April 03, 2009

I'm Your Uncle Arnie!

President Merit Pay's Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, announced in a letter to the governors of all 50 states that additional stimulus bill education aid will be tied to the states providing what the NY Times described as "reams of detailed educational information."

The data Uncle Arnie is requesting includes the following:

¶Student math and reading scores on local tests, as well as on the National Assessment of Education Progress, a federal test that is more difficult.

¶The numbers of schools declared failing under federal law that have demonstrated student achievement gains within the last three years.

¶The numbers of students, by high school, who graduate and go on to complete at least a year’s worth of college credit.
The Times says the administration wants the data so that it can catch the states that have dumbed down tests in order to make test scores look better, manipulated graduation rates and overall failed to educate children while on the surface making it look like they are doing an adequate job.

Here's the ironic thing about this: just this week Uncle Arnie praised a man who has done all of the things Uncle Arnie wants to catch states doing - manipulating test scores, dumbing down tests, playing with the graduation rates, etc.

That right, Uncle Arnie loves him some Mayor Bloomberg, as the NY Post notes here in this article from Tuesday:

"I'm looking at the data here in front of me. Graduation rates are up. Test scores are up. Teacher salaries are up. Social promotion was eliminated . . . Dramatically increasing parental choice. By every measure, that's real progress."

"It's absolutely going in the right direction. The mayor and chancellor deserve great credit for that," he said.

Uh, huh.

Now I don't know if Uncle Arnie is stupid, corrupt or both. But everything the Times article says he hopes to find states doing Mayor Bloomberg and Joel Klein engage in - dumbed down tests, phonied graduation rates (ask the mayor what his "credit recovery" program is), excluding ESL and Support Services students from testing in small schools to make the scores look better - and we can add manipulated school crime stats and no-bid contract corruption to the mix.

As has been noted time and time again here on NYCEducator, the test score progress Bloomberg and Klein claim on the state and city tests (which are graded in-school by the same teachers who teach these students and created by state and city bureaucrats with an interest in dumbing down the tests and rubrics) disappear on the federal test - the National Assessment of Educational Progress:

New York City’s eighth graders have made no significant progress in reading and math since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took control of the city schools, according to federal test scores released yesterday, in contrast with the largely steady gains that have been recorded on state tests.

The national scores also showed little narrowing of the achievement gap between white students and their black and Hispanic counterparts.

The results for New York and 10 other large urban districts on the federal tests, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, paint a generally stagnant picture for the city, although there are gains in fourth-grade math. On measure after measure, the scores showed “no significant change” between 2005, when the test was previously administered, and 2007.

Mr. Bloomberg has trumpeted improving state test scores as evidence that the city is setting the pace for urban school reform. But the federal scores, on a test often called the nation’s report card, suggest that the city’s gains are limited. Similar patterns of gains on state tests outstripping gains on the national assessment have emerged elsewhere as well.

New York City’s federal scores showed that while fourth-grade reading results have improved over the past five years, the most significant jump came in 2002, before Mr. Bloomberg took control.

And all this lack of progress on the NAEP under Bloomberg/Klein came as they gave testing modifications (i.e., extra time, having some read the test aloud to students, etc.) to 20%-25% of the students taking the test - more than the 10 other cities that take part in a city-by-city NAEP comparison used to give context to the stats and more than any other state in the nation.

So by the most independent measure of educational progress - the NAEP - Bloomberg and Klein show little to no progress in test scores but a marked increase in the number of students who received testing modifications . And these are the guys Uncle Arnie wants to use as a model for education reform around the nation?

You have to wonder if Uncle Arnie compared the NAEP test results for New York City to the state and city tests or noted all the testing modifications Kleinberg added while showing no progress on the NAEP before he opened his mouth to the NY Post and endorsed Mayor Bloomberg for Public School Dictator? Or was Arnie too winded from his post-basketball cigarette break with President Merit Pay to do the comparisons? Or maybe he just doesn't give a s#$t in the least, maybe he just wants to prop up the education "reform" status quo as embodied in the crooked carcasses of Mayor Moneybags and Chancellor Sarcaphogus?

I don't know about you, but I think it's the latter.

These people don't care about true education reform, real student progress or helping educate students for that matter.

All they seem to care about is privatizing education, adding more charter schools to the system, extending hours and days for urban students and busting teachers unions.

And the rest is a bunch of "fiddling about."
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