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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fred Smith on David Abrams' resignation: No Mas!

Fred Smith is a former senior analyst for the NYC Board of Education and an expert on testing. Here he comments on the sudden resignation of David Abrams, who led the NY State Education Dept. testing office into one preposterous blunder after another over many years, the most serious of which was  test score inflation -- but my favorite was the ridiculous 4th grade reading test of 2006 which featured Brownie the Cow.  (You have to see this to believe it; here is the story and questions archived.) This article in the Daily News was probably the final straw: about a prematurely released state plan to lengthen 3rd grade standardized exams to four hours.  
Susan Crawford asks whether the SED might actually hire a trained psychometrician in Abrams’ place. "Does there exist a "lever of change" we can push somewhere to insist that SED put someone in charge of testing who has the appropriate credentials?" 
Fred responds: 
I'm reminded of a statement by Abba Eban: Men behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives.
 Surely wisdom has not guided the NYS Testing Program.  Maybe there's a slight opening for it now.
The spirit of OWS comes to mind as a force for change: With the ridiculous longer testing that was about to be sprung on everyone; followed by Abrams' (who must know where the bodies are buried) resignation; and the rebellion of principals against teacher evaluations--perhaps, the moment is ripe for principals, teachers and parents to unify in a massive OPT OUT of the testing.  No Mas! 
There's no need to rush ahead on the next runaway test train--to perpetuate obsession with high scores, misuse of the data to justify dubious decisions and consequent cheating, institutional lying about the results, destruction of the curriculum, mad giveaway money to publishers and other attendant evils.


Cindy said...

That last paragraph says it all, and beautifully!

reality-based educator said...

What is the over/under on when he gets hired by Pearson, McGraw-Hill, or News Corporation's education division to develop tests those companies will sell to the state and/or city as part of the battery of new Common Core standardized tests that are going to be shoved down our throats in a year or two?

Anonymous said...

You said it Fred! Last we knew, Abrams' only credentials for such a high profile and important post consisted of that which many, many classroom teachers have: a Masters' Degree. Abrams wasn't even credentialed to be a principal, superintendent - or even an assistant principal. This is the caliber of person determining the criteria our students must meet in order to graduate high school. Shameful.