Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Newsday Asks Opt-Out to Please Crawl Away and Die

When I was 12 years old, I think, my first job ever was delivering newspapers. I delivered Newsday for several years. I also sold a hell of a lot of subscriptions. Whenever anyone moved in, whenever a new house was built, and whenever anyone wasn't on my route I'd knock on the door and sell new subscriptions. It was easy. There was nothing like it and it was pretty much the best source of local news. I read it every day.

Now Newsday is a piece of drek owned by the would-be monopolists at Cablevision. It's written one of the stupidest editorials I've ever seen.  Newsday thinks the opt-out movement has done its job, and that now it's time to sit down and shut up. You see, the tests were "fine" because they were "vetted" by "at least 22 New York public school teachers."

It’s unfortunate that 20 percent of students statewide and more than 50 percent of those on Long Island opted out of those exams this past spring. So while the tests were fine, the broad results released by the state on July 29 are practically useless for evaluating classes, schools and districts on Long Island.

You see what they did there? Not only did they understate the percentage of students statewide who opted out, but they also failed to note that the tests were fundamentally different from those the year before. Even the state itself acknowledges that, sometimes. Newsday then attributes these changes to the "parent and teacher revolt against Common Core standards in recent years," the same revolt that it opposed tooth and nail, each and every step of the way. Newsday says opt-out has now achieved its goals and should therefore go away and leave it alone.

Newsday loves standardized tests:

Results of standardized tests are just about the only measure that equally compares student skills across classes, schools, districts and states. They can show teachers and schools what works, and highlight student strengths and weaknesses.

Why, then, would anyone opt-out in the first place? If it's inherently fair to give standardized tests, why did Andrew Cuomo agree to make any changes at all? Why do they have this "moratorium" on counting the results against students and teachers? After all, since the tests are so absolutely vital, we need them,  don't we? How are we gonna find out how much our kids, our schools, and our teachers suck if we don't have them take tests and then have the schools decide later exactly which scores pass and which don't?

My favorite part of the piece is this one:

Based on past results, the state Education Department says the majority of those who opted out this year were students who probably would have gotten a substandard score of 1 or 2 on the tests, rather than 3 (proficient) or 4 (excellent).

NY State has a long and consistent history of manipulating test results to show whatever the hell they wish to show. If billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg needs scores to go up so as to prove that reforminess works, voila!  They go up. Diane Ravitch cries foul because the NAEP scores contradict that rise. Bloomberg and his peeps call her a crank and pat themselves on the back. Two years later, papers like Newsday finally catch on to the story that test scores were, in fact, inflated and the test scores were meaningless.

The Island was built on great schools. No one is going to believe those schools are still great if parents won’t let children take the tests.

If the only thing that made those schools great was test scores, no one should have ever believed those schools were great. There is a direct correlation between income and test scores. The only thing test scores reliably indicate is which part of Long Island you live in. Seriously, do you think the state, revered as it is by Newsday, is gonna come in and take over Great Neck schools instead of Roosevelt schools?

It's pretty sad that a once great local paper has degenerated into a corporate-owned reformy rag that couldn't argue its way out of the birdcage it lines. Perhaps it wouldn't be in said birdcage if it reflected the community it ostensibly served rather than the cable moguls who own it.
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