Thursday, September 11, 2008

High Stakes Testing Reaches Into the Cradle

September 11, 2008 (GBN News): A high stakes standardized testing program for newborn babies will soon be instituted by the NY City Department of Education, GBN News has learned exclusively. The pilot program, to be funded initially by the Gates and Broad foundations, will be designed to establish a baseline by which to evaluate the schools that the children later attend.

The DOE is already implementing a standardized testing program for kindergarteners, and will soon be testing Universal Pre-K children as well. But according to a source at the DOE, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein was concerned about the lack of earlier data through which to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and administrators of kindergarten and preschool programs. “If we wait to test until pre-k or even kindergarten”, the Chancellor was said to have demanded, “How do we know the children have made any progress in those programs? On what data do we base performance pay? How do we know which underperforming principals to fire? Or what programs to close?”

The DOE source said that the newborn testing program will be designed by McGraw Hill under a no-bid contract with the Education Department. The test, which will be conducted immediately upon birth of the infants, was described by a source at McGraw Hill as “The APGAR score on steroids”, and will encompass a wide range of cognitive and developmental dimensions. Data will be fed into the DOE’s ARIS computer, and will be used as a baseline for all later standardized testing.

The DOE has also contracted with Kaplan, Inc. to offer test prep programs to expectant parents. Given that fetuses are known to be capable of hearing outside sounds while in the womb, the test prep will consist of audio tapes which will focus largely on early math and reading skills. A Kaplan executive, speaking on condition of anonymity since the program has not yet been officially announced, told GBN News, “This will be really popular among expectant parents. It may even be bigger than Lamaze.”


David Cantor said...

As usual, GBN News got it wrong. The actual program will be a series of pre-birth testing starting in the first tri-mester. DOE scientists are working on tests for sperm and egg so the DOE can make the best choice and assure future high scores.

BenJamin said...

LOL! The sad thing is I believed this at first. It's just too real.