Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Feds Look To Get Rid Of Bloomberg Manipulation Of NAEP Exam

The NY Sun reports that federal officials are looking to create a single standard for how to decide which students are excluded from testing for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam and which receive special accommodations, such as extra time or permission to take the test in a small group.

The revisions to the testing standards come as a result of Department of Education officials in New York City giving extra time and other modifications to 20%-25% of students who took the NAEP exam while just 5% of students received extra time and additional modifications nation-wide.

The NAEP exams are considered the "gold standard" of standardized tests for elementary and middle school students, but officials who oversee the examine say discrepancies undermine the test's purpose and the standards for the exam must be uniform across the nation:

One board member, James Lanich, said not having a reliable standard prevents states and researchers from drawing lessons from the NAEP results. Without knowing for sure which states are performing the best, lessons on which policies to pursue are harder to grasp, he said.

Studies have shown that excluding students can unfairly inflate test scores, though the effects of accommodations are unclear.

NAEP officials admit that trying to enforce one national standard for the NAEP exam may be impossible to do and probably could be overturned if states or municipalities challenged the standards in court.

Nonetheless the Sun article says a voluntary compact among states and municipalities to follow the same standards for the exam could be a workable solution. Such a voluntary compact
agreeing to measure high school graduation rates by a single standard was signed by 45 state governors in 2005.

The article concludes with an NAEP expert, Richard Innes, noting that some states or cities might not want to sign up for such a voluntary compact for fear of having to abandon generous accommodation policies that help inflate scores.

Mayor Michael Bloomerg's New York City is one such area.

Ironically, New York City's NAEP scores have actually stayed stagnant during the Bloomberg years despite huge gains in state test scores and despite Bloomberg's Education Department quadrupling the number of students receiving testing modifications compared to what other areas give.

Here's a chart from the NY Times showing the divergence between state scores and scores on the NAEP:

Notice how much better city students do on the state tests than the national tests?

Notice how little students have improved on the national tests during the Bloomberg years?

Anybody wonder what those national test scores would have looked like if Bloomberg didn't have the option to dole out extra time and other testing accommodations to 20%-25% of the students taking the test?

Anybody wonder how likely Bloomberg and the state pols are to agree to national standards that take away their testing accommodations options?

Anybody really believe Bloomberg and the state pols are going to allow accurate test scores to be reported when they can manipulate the testing standards and artificially inflate the scores?
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