One of America’s foremost educators told NBC New York that the testing system on which we judge our school children’s progress is “a big fraud.”
Diane Ravitch was reacting to a New York Times story that said standardized state exams have become easier to pass in the last four years. State education officials say they will re-calibrate the scoring for tests taken this spring -- and that could cause thousands more students to fail.
David Steiner, the new state education commissioner, said, during a Board of Regents meeting in Albany: “The only possible conclusion is that something strange has happened to our test.”
Ravitch tells me it was “a big fraud” and, if that is true, the fraud has been committed against our children and their parents. As she says: “Seventy-five percent of the young people who get to Community College need remedial work before taking college courses. In many cases, the odds are strong that a student will drop out of college.”
Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have repeatedly cited test scores for math and reading as evidence that mayoral control of education is producing great results. In his re-election campaign, the Mayor cited achievements on tests scores as proof that, with City Hall running the educational system, great improvements were taking place.
But now there appears to be a huge discrepancy between the scores and reality. Teachers are accused of teaching to the test and, often, what seems to be improvement could result from many youngsters knowing the answers.
Harvard testing expert Daniel Koretz found that it became easier to pass the tests between 2007 and 2009. Koretz says teachers may have become more skilled at teaching what they knew was going to be on the exams.
If this kind of thing is happening, it’s a disgrace to local educational leaders and City Hall.
Commissioner Steiner and his staff should investigate whether New York City’s educational establishment has been straight with the people when it comes to reporting progress.
If the people at the top were aware that a fraud was being committed they should confess their sin -- and reform the system. It might not be good politics butit would be good for the children and their parents.