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?"
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.