An expert who serves as the State's top technical adviser on testing is concerned about grade inflation and has called for an independent study of this year's unusual and unprecedented rise in test scores across the state. Writing in the NY Sun, Elizabeth Green has the story here.
Elizabeth also has a disturbing story about cheating on the state tests here. An excerpt:
A sixth-grader at M.S. 201. said that a teacher once looked over his shoulder and said, "Ooh, is that right? Is that the right answer?" encouraging him to erase and try again.
Meanwhile, 11 of 12 P.S. 48 graduates interviewed last week said they were coached during the state tests.
They said that teachers would look over their shoulders and instruct them to try again and again until they got answers right.
"They'd be like, 'Is that the right answer?' — until they make sure it's right," a sixth-grader said.
"When I was at 48, I never went to class, and I still passed the test," a seventh-grader said. "If you go to graduation, you pass."
Higher test scores could pay off for M.S. 201's teachers this year. The school is one of about 200 participating in a trial project to give teachers bonuses if their students perform well on state tests.
The bonuses average $3,000 a teacher.
Under the Bloomberg administration, test results have been woven into a complex system of carrots and sticks where principal bonuses, teacher merit pay, school ratings, school budget bonuses, principal dismissals and school closings all hinge on test scores. It is not surprising that pressure to score high has lead to a culture of test prep, grade inflation and cheating.
Update: see the NY Sun for a properly skeptical oped about the sharp rise in NY State test scores.