Friday, November 16, 2007

NY Times: "Little Progress for City Schools"

The New York Times, often deferential to the Bloomberg administration, today pulled no punches in Jennifer Medina's front-page article laying bare the full extent of the DOE's failure to improve achievement when measured by the national yardstick:

New York City’s eighth graders have made no significant progress in reading and math since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took control of the city schools, according to federal test scores released yesterday, in contrast with the largely steady gains that have been recorded on state tests.

The national scores also showed little narrowing of the achievement gap between white students and their black and Hispanic counterparts.

The results for New York and 10 other large urban districts on the federal tests, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, paint a generally stagnant picture for the city, although there are gains in fourth-grade math. On measure after measure, the scores showed “no significant change” between 2005, when the test was previously administered, and 2007.

Mr. Bloomberg has trumpeted improving state test scores as evidence that the city is setting the pace for urban school reform. But the federal scores, on a test often called the nation’s report card, suggest that the city’s gains are limited.

But by far the most depressing news in the article was the "defense" offered by Schools Chancellor Klein and the State Education Department:
“This is not just about a single-year picture,” Mr. Klein said. “The state tests are aligned with our standards, and our teachers know that.”

Alan Ray, a New York State Education Department spokesman, echoed Mr. Klein’s concerns and added that students might not perform as well on the national test because passing the test is not required to advance to the next grade level, as it is on the state tests.

The defense is that teachers prep our kids for the State tests but not the federal ones? In other words, we should expect our kids to know math and English only the way its asked on the NY state tests, otherwise they're out of luck? With promotion, school progress reports, principal bonuses and teacher merit pay all tied to the same state tests, the craze for teaching to the state tests at the expense of real education will only worsen.

Special for parents:

The NAEP sent us a note inviting public school parents to participate in a forum where NAEP Associate Commissioner Peggy Carr will answer questions about the results.

If you are interested, email your question to by Monday at noon.

Dr. Carr will post her answers to submitted questions on Nov. 20 at 3 p.m at

See earlier blog coverage of the NAEP results from Diane Ravitch here and the NY Sun here.

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