May 21, 2007 (GBN News): With the commitment by McGraw-Hill to do interim assessments in the NY City schools, and the forthcoming implementation of the ARIS supercomputer system, the NY City Department of Education today announced a new comprehensive evaluation program. The program, called “Perpetual Testing”, will involve frequent interim tests from the moment children walk into the school to the time they leave.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, in unveiling the new program, said that the original plan, which would have tested children every four to six weeks, was flawed in that the tests were too infrequent to properly evaluate progress. Moreover, the Chancellor said that there were inadequate incentives under the old plan for children to perform well on the tests.
Under the new program, the Chancellor said, no aspect of the school day will be untested. Students will have to perform “up to standards” to earn such privileges as recess, lunch and bathroom breaks. For example, computer terminals, hooked into the ARIS mainframes, will be placed along cafeteria lines, and students will have to pass a computerized “pop quiz” in order to get their food.
The Chancellor offered assurances that all such tests would be tailored to each child’s grade level, so that no children would lose their lunch due to an unfair question. The questions, he said, will also be appropriate to the reward. A student might, for example, have to answer a question about “Brownie the Cow” in order to get a container of milk.
Testing terminals would also be located in schoolyards and bathroom stalls, among other places. Data gleaned from all of these sources will be processed by ARIS, and used to develop a comprehensive, minute by minute picture of each school’s progress, on which the principal’s job security will hinge.
In a related story, the Chancellor told GBN News that the DOE is sensitive to teacher concerns that “differentiated instruction”, driven by the expanded assessments, could lead to difficulty in juggling multiple demands. In response, he said, the DOE is implementing a program by which a clown will be placed in each classroom to mentor teachers in the art of juggling. Mr. Klein dismissed criticism that there are already too many clowns at the DOE, and he said that the new initiative will dispel “once and for all” the notion that increased testing is driving the arts out of the classroom.