Friday, November 16, 2007

What grade would you give Joel Klein?

Yesterday, the DOE let the legal deadline for class size reporting lapse. Not entirely surprising, given the fact that they have refused to tell us a single school where class sizes have supposedly been reduced this year. Their official excuse is that they are still working on cleaning up the data.

Interesting that they felt they had enough accurate data to assign grades to every school; but they are still working on providing accurate class size information – as required by a law passed by the City Council nearly two years ago.

Tweed talks a lot about data-driven instruction, and is spending millions of dollars putting together data inquiry teams in every school to pump up test scores. But when it comes to the most basic, most critical data of all – how large are the classes our kids are sitting in – they remain officially at sea. Or else they are simply trying to hide the truth. Which is worse, I can’t say.

  • The NAEP (national) test scores were released yesterday. These are the most reliable indicators we have for spotting long-term trends. NYC made no significant improvements in three out of the four categories since 2003, when the administration put into effect its Children First reforms.

No improvement in 4th or 8th grade reading, no improvement in 8th grade math. Only in 4th grade math have there been increases. Below is an article from today’s Times; and here is Diane Ravitch’s summary on our blog.

Also see the NY Post story, in which the Chancellor is quoted as saying that they are going to launch another “comprehensive study” to see what works in terms of raising achievement in middle schools. Parents and teachers could tell him plenty about how our middle school class sizes are not conducive to learning, in which 79% of students are in classes of 25 or more, and 40% in classes of 30 or more, far above the state, national and OECD averages, but I doubt he’d be interested in listening.

Clearly, the fact that this fall, NYC received the Broad award for most improved school district in the country was undeserved. As I said at the time, it was based largely on manipulated graduation data and inflated state test scores.

What grade would you give Joel Klein and this administration, not only for failing to improve student achievement in three of four categories, but in other areas? Say, transparency, communication, fairness? Or pick any category you like.

Our blog has a new poll (see right hand corner.) Please vote, and then put your comments on right here as to why you give the administration the grade you did.

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