Education Nation

Education Nation

A solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America

The Need for Truth in Testing Our Kids

Mayor Bloomberg's educational programs deserve an F

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Finally, the parents and children of New York City are learning the truth. The people at the head of the state educational system are admitting what we have long suspected: that previous numbers on math and reading tests were phony.

    Finally, the parents and children of New York City are learning the truth. The people at the head of the state educational system are admitting what we have long suspected:  that previous numbers on math and reading tests were phony.

    As we have noted repeatedly over the months, the tests did not accurately reflect how proficient  youngsters were in math and English. Simply put, the tests were too easy and didn’t reflect whether or not children ultimately would be ready for college.  Indeed 74 percent, of seniors entering college need remedial help before they can enter college classes.

    It’s not good news -- but we can thank Merryl Tisch, the chancellor of the Board of Regents, and the state’s new education commissioner, David Steiner, for finally raising the bar on tests.  They have given us all the true picture of the progress -- or lack of progress -- our youngsters are making.

    Thus, in 2009. 77 percent of students met or surpassed standards in English and 86% did so in Math. Now that the standards have been revised only 53 % passed in English and 61% in Math.

    We can wonder how the city’s own Education Department missed the boat on this one. Mayor Bloomberg has prided himself -- he made it a cornerstone of his re-election campaign -- on improving education. And he and his subordinates have repeatedly touted the virtually meaningless test scores.

    Teachers have told me that many of them teach to the tests. It has become more important to pass a test than receive meaningful education. Why were our own educators remiss in detecting that there was something wrong with this testing apparatus? How can we evaluate teachers on this basis?

    As New York seeks more federal aid in the Race to the Top program, it can cite the addition of charter schools and legislative action that gives administrators more power to fire teachers who are judged ineffective -- and the reform of the testing process.

    But a lot of work needs to be done. We can hope that the people we entrust with our children’s education will be straight with us in the future. If we don’t get honesty in our testing process, the powers that be deserve a grade of F.