We have been writing about this for at least two years and so have others. But, finally, the Department of Education is recognizing publicly that phony test scores are a real problem.
City Hall, which took control of the city’s schools after a prolonged battle, has been touting these scores for a long time as evidence that a centralized system produces great results. Now, at last the touters have been exposed as not having that much to tout about.
School officials are confessing, in effect, that the numbers have been cooked to prove that the centralized setup produces great results. It simply isn’t true---and they seem to be admitting it.
The education hierarchy is introducing a new system to audit tests scores, grading practices and graduation rates of public high schools. As The New York Times reports, they seem to be admitting that not even the current standards are being met.
Are principals and teachers in some cases manipulating data to pretty up the record? It’s like students cheating on the test -- only worse. If there has been widespread cheating by the very people entrusted with the education of our kids -- some principals and teachers -- may be at fault. And, also, the big shots who appointed them.
If such manipulation exists, it seems a poor idea to have the Department of Education conduct an audit, or investigation. How do we guarantee that it doesn’t happen again? Mayor Bloomberg and the top officials of the school bureaucracy believe in a statistical approach to evaluating how well are kids are doing. It seems to ignore some basic needs in education like: developing a capacity for critical thinking, for doing the research that makes such a process possible, to instill a love of learning.
Numbers may be the way to judge prowess in investment banking or business. But numbers alone can’t produce an educated human being. A good teacher inspires a love of learning. The numbers-happy people in control of the system don’t know what they’re talking about.