Friday, August 05, 2016

NY Test Scores---Chalkbeat Chugs the Cherry Kool Aid

Even the state says this year's test scores aren't comparable with last year's, but that doesn't matter to Chalkbeat NY. Chalkbeat needs to make sure its reformy supporters can take credit. So even though the tests were different, even though there were fewer questions, and even though there was no longer a time limit, we need to pretend there's some big mystery. 

Mayor de Blasio, predictably, took credit. This is in the grand tradition of Michael Bloomberg, who always said what a great job he was doing when test scores went up. Diane Ravitch was derided as a crank, but two years later she was proven absolutely correct as the newspapers caught up with her and declared the tests dumbed down.

Or could it be the charter schools, Chalkbeat's BFFs, who caused the rise in scores. Well certainly they say so, and rather than leave it to the reader's imagination, Chalkbeat simply declares, "Charter schools are part of the answer." There can be no question about that, from the Chalkbeat NY point of view. And just to emphasize that, they make sure to quote Eva Moskowitz.

And to make absolutely sure that we get the Gates/ Walmart perspective, Chalkbeat goes to a "nonprofit" they funded, fails to acknowledge said funding, and gets them to wave the flag for the Common Core:

“The Common Core state standards and tests have been unfairly demonized and used to excuse the failures of our education system,” two leaders of the group wrote. “When we truly listen to what teachers, parents and students are saying, we know that high standards, implemented well, enable students to thrive.”

I love that they say "when we truly listen." Evidently, when we hear the powerful and relentless opt-out movement deride the standards as child abuse, we aren't truly listening. The only ones we should truly listen to, evidently, are people who take money from Gates, who funded not only the people who say these words, but Common Core itself.

And the quote is even more ironic in that it's presented in the context of an article that does not bother to listen to, let alone interview, a single affected teacher, parent or student. Further ironic is that the article does not even acknowledge the huge opt-out numbers, surpassing even those of last year, despite NYSED's big push to tamp it down. Further ironic is that opt-out is driven entirely by the teachers, parents and students the Gates/ Walton funded group claims to listen to.

It couldn't be that the tests are apples and oranges, a meaningless waste of ink, paper, and time.  That's impossible, even though the state admits it flat-out:

Though the state admits that outright, it doesn't hesitate to use the narrative of increased test scores to advance its own reformy agenda. Of course Chalkbeat were to simply acknowledge the obvious, as the state pretty much grants, the reformies who drive the narrative in the article would have nothing to babble about.

In fact, non Gates-funded Leonie Haimson points out that we're seeing the same pattern that caused Ravitch to call shenanigans on previous tests--the uptick in scores does not coincide with the more reliable NAEP scores. And the raw scores are different this year. Isn't that a pretty clear answer, rendering the Chalkbeat piece academic at best?

You wouldn't know that if you relied on Chalkbeat for info. It's very sad that we have a potential resource to keep people informed on the education wars, but that it generally can't be bothered to seek out the points of view of even the activist parents who give MaryEllen Elia nightmares about democracy in action. The 22% of students who opted out statewide figure absolutely nowhere in this coverage. Do you suppose they just forgot?

It's pretty sad that a piece bemoans us not truly listening to teachers, parents, and students fails not only to listen to them at all, but also to show the remotest curiosity about them.
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