The craziness over test scores goes on.
Now federal officials say that New York State's fourth and eighth grade students have not improved on federal reading tests since 2007 --even as state reading tests showed tremendous improvement.
What's the reason? Nobody has come up with a definite answer. But, as state officials including Merryl Tisch, chairman of the Board of Regents, have told us in the past, the state reading and math tests are simply easier than the federal exams. Indeed there is a suspicion that New York's exams have been dumbed down in recent years.
“I don't think the discrepancy in test scores is the problem," Catherine Nolan, chair of the State Assembly's education committee, told me. "We have 12,000 kids being taught in trailers because there aren't enough classrooms. Class sizes are way too large. Parents are not being allowed to be involved. We're still not truly educating our youngsters. After eight years of mayoral control in the city we're not still not making great strides.”
State officials agree that the tests have not been tough enough. State Education Commissioner David Steiner says the Regents are committed to a reform agenda that “will raise the quality of our standards, assessments and curriculum and strengthen principal and teacher preparation.”
As Nolan says: “We are spending a lot of money. We have reorganized several times. We are trying to move forward but staying In the same place.”
In eighth grade 33 percent of New York's students scored proficiently on the National Assessment of Education Progress reading tests -- the same as in 2007. In fourth grade, the number of pupils scoring proficiently stayed at 36 percent.
So the indications are clear: We have to look harder at what ails our educational system.