Sunday, September 09, 2007

Some States Look For Standardized Test Cheats, But In New York We Call Cheating Progress

by reality-based educator

The New York Times reports today that some states are beginning to look for patterns of cheating on standardized tests in public schools.

The theory goes that all the pressure to do well on standardized tests from the No Child Left Behind law has caused some teachers and/or administrators "to improve their schools’ standings" on standardized tests through what is euphemistically known as "adult interference."

In other words, they change wrong answers on tests to right ones.

As the Times article notes, this is easy to do because the very people who are held accountable by the No Child Left Behind law - teachers and administrators - are also the ones charged with test security.

The Times article doesn't really get around to the problem of school districts and/or states making tests easier than in previous years or dumbing down the grading rubric so that students need fewer correct answers to pass the tests, but the Daily News did address that problem earlier in the week when they reported NY State had made the 2005 4th grade math test much easier than the 2002 4th grade math test.

Lo and behold, test scores dramatically increased on the 2005 4th grade math tests and city and state politicians and education officials hailed the results as proof that, in Mayor Bloomberg's words

"'s clear that the reforms that we put in place are working...Over the last two years we have begun to bring order and accountability to a system that had been dysfunctional for decades. By providing students with the resources they need and holding them, their teachers, and ourselves accountable for producing results, our schoolchildren are now receiving the education they deserve. Today's results...are remarkable and a sign that things are moving in the right direction. I congratulate the students, teachers and parents that have worked so hard to achieve these record results."

Never mind that the real hard work that took place was in the testing office where they were busy dumbing down the tests and making the grading rubric less rigorous.

This is not to say that kids and teachers aren't working hard to do well with the tests, but when you have huge score increases that are statistically unlikely, it should be a clue that something is wrong with the integrity of the test.

After the publication of the Daily News stories about the easier math tests, Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein finally agreed to create an independent auditing panel to analyze city test scores and methodologies after delaying the creation of said panel for over two years.

On that panel will be Chancellor Klein, UFT prez Randi Weingarten, some charter school advocates, and a few business leaders/Bloomberg cronies.

As Sol Stern noted in the Daily News, "the whole thing's a fraud." Every member of the independent auditing panel will have a vested interest in making it look like the test score increases are valid and the tests are on the up-and-up.

So while other states begin to look for patterns of cheating at the school level, here in NYC we call cheating at the school, district, city and state levels "remarkable achievements" - even when they are statistically unlikely.

And then we create "independent test auditing panels" made up of Bloomberg/Klein cronies with vested interests in covering up any bad news about the test scores or methodologies to give the mayor and the chancellor cover for their systematic and systemic cheating.

Wow - what remarkable achievements in education we're making here in this city.

Won't it be nice when Bloomberg runs for president as the "Education Mayor" and brings these achievement opportunities to the rest of the nation?

POSTSCRIPT: How come the NY Times, which is always clambering about how teachers need to be held accountable for student achievement (more test data please!!!) and how teachers are the ones responsible for the cheating on standardized tests can't take a closer look at how Bloomberg and Klein manipulate the test score statistics and screw with the integrity of the tests?

Seriously - how come?
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