The world of education has been turned upside down. Seventh graders who got just 44 percent on a math exam this year received a passing grade, reports The New York Times.
That’s not the way it was when I went to school. And I doubt that the parents of today’s school children were considered to have passed if they got only 44 percent.
It’s the numbers game as played by would-be educators who don’t seem to have any concept of math or education.
As we conduct a primary election that will help determine who governs New York City for the next four years, the voters are confronted with a problem: how can you trust state tests to determine how well our kids are doing when these tests are fundamentally flawed or, at worst, corrupted to meet political ends? Even state education officials admit it’s time to go back to the drawing boards. There’s something wrong with these tests.
Mayor Bloomberg says the soaring scores show he has been successful since he took control of the schools. In other cities throughout the state there have been similar gains.and similar claims by public officials.
But some educational experts are deeply skeptical.
Martha Foote, director of research for the New York Performance Standards Consortium, points out that the spur for the upsurge in testing in all 50 states was the federal No Child Left Behind Act. She questions whether increased test scores really indicate increased learning.
"Which standards are actually being met and measured, those that require simple memorization or those that demand complex thinking?” Foote asked.
Foote and her organization believe the tests should be held ‘’accountable’’for what their proponents claim---‘’especially when children’s futures and adult livelihoods hinge on the results.”
Foote points out; “What we’re engaged in is political opportunism.. It’s in the interest of political leaders to see scores go up. I fear that children can be hurt by political manipulation.’’
In August, she says, the passing grade for an algebra test was 34.5%. And it used to be 65 percent!
Opportunism? Political manipulation? Whatever it is, it doesn’t do the kids any good. When it comes to the kids, our leaders are flunking big time.