Thursday, October 28, 2021

Mayor de Blasio and DOE Chancellor say state test results "cast a positive light on NYC's performance" (parody by Fred Smith)

Today the state test scores from last spring
were released, revealing that only 20% percent of eligible NYC students in grades 3-8 took the exams, as many were engaged in remote learning and parents had to opt in for their children to take them. Thus the results were more meaningless than ever.  Even so, a 64% of students tested "proficient", a higher percentage than in years past. 

Below is testing expert and critic Fred Smith's rendition of a NYC press release, a parody of the nonsense that regularly comes out of the Mayor's office and DOE in a usual, non-pandemic year.


This afternoon, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Porter announced the results of the 2021 ELA and Math Tests.   

They cast a positive light on New York City's performance.

The chancellor said that since the Common Core tests began in 2013, this year's results had reached new heights of irrelevance. 

"This shows how good leadership and dedicated teachers and principals can bring us to a new level, despite the challenges we have faced.

I want to thank the mayor for the support he has given us.  Chancellor Carranza, my predecessor, deserves some of the credit too."

The Mayor seemed particularly gratified and attributed this year's success to the seeds planted by his Universal Pre-K program.  

"I would say that anytime we make strides, even if they lack meaning, is a good time." 

Power point charts were made available to the media providing the usual breakdowns.  As expected, New York did better than the Big 4 cities. 


Important update on class size bill & how you can help; plus deadline to opt out of SEL screener

1. Check out the compelling testimony including videos from yesterday's hearings on Intro 2374  and the importance of lowering class size, from Regent Kathy Cashin, Diane Ravitch, Elsie McCabe Thompson and others. Diane Ravitch testified that lowering class size would be the most powerful education reform the Council could enact.

My written testimony is here.  If you’d like to add your voice, you can upload your thoughts in the form of a doc  through Saturday on the Council website here. If you do write something, please also send it to at so I can post it on my website.

2. As expected, DOE officials expressed total opposition to the class size bill, claiming it would take decades to build enough seats and that it would be "disruptive" to schools, though of course, overcrowded classrooms and schools are hugely disruptive to the quality of education NYC students receive. Not one of them claimed that achieving smaller classes would not be beneficial for kids,  and in fact, Deputy Chief Academic Officer Lawrence Pendergast testified that "no pedagogue would disagree" that class size matters.

Though DOE officials claimed that it would take 200,000 seats to provide the additional space required, the IBO estimates the real number is about 100,000 seats. My view is that the DOE cannot be trusted to come up with an accurate figure since they still haven't complied with Local Law 167 passed two years ago, that required them to explain their methodology for estimating the need for new school seats as laid out in the Capital plan. Council Education Chair Mark Treyger pointed out that the Mayor had created thousands of PreK and 3K seats nearly overnight, and that creating space for lowering class size could be done, given the same impetus and political will.

So far 28 Council members have signed onto the class size bill, Intro 2374 , so please check the link for the names of the co-sponsors and if your CM is not listed, please give them a call. You can find their names and phone numbers here. We have only a few short weeks before the Council turns over to a nearly entirely new cast of characters, so this is urgent!

3. The DOE has contracted with a company that produces a social emotional screener which teachers are supposed to fill out for their students starting next week. DOE has said that parents have the right to opt out of this screener, called DESSA, though many have not been informed of that right. Many parents also have serious concerns about the privacy, security, reliability and use of the resulting data, issues I have written about here.  

If you decide to opt out, you have till tomorrow, Friday October 29 to do so. If you haven't been told about a specific form to fill out, you can opt out by emailing your principal and copying your parent coordinator, informing them of your decision; be sure to include your child's name, class and OSIS number as well.

Thanks , Leonie

Compelling testimony including videos from yesterday's hearings on the importance of lowering class size for NYC students.

Much of the testimony yesterday at the City Council was compelling about the importance of lowering class size and the need to pass Intro 2374 for the sake of NYC students. Class Size Matters testimony is here. Testimony of Michael Mulgrew, UFT President, is here. An article about these hearings is here

If you'd like to submit written testimony, you can do it here through Saturday.  Please also email it to us at so we can post it on our website.

Below are videos and written testimonies of Board of Regents member and former Superintendent Kathleen Cashin, education historian and advocate Diane Ravitch, Elsie McCabe Thompson, President of the Mission Society, Curtis D. Young, Executive DirectorArtistic Noise, and Marissa Manzanares, parent and CEC 14 member. 

Kathleen Cashin Testimony (10.27.21) from Class Size Matters on Vimeo.

Curtis D. Young Testimony (10.27.21) from Class Size Matters on Vimeo. Marissa Manzanares Testimony (10.27.21) from Class Size Matters on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Diane Ravitch’s testimony today in support of lowering class size

At the Council hearings today, DOE officials vociferously opposed the class size bill, Intro 2374, saying it would be "extremely disruptive" to schools.  Yet others, including Regent Kathleen Cashin, Diane Ravitch and Elsie Thompson McCabe, CEO of the Mission Society, one of NYC's oldest social service organizations, said reducing class size would be the most powerful thing we could do to improve our schools and outcomes for NYC students.  My written testimony is here; Diane's is below.


Diane Ravitch’s testimony in support of Intro 2374, the bill to lower class size


October 27, 2021


Chairman Treyger, thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

I am a historian of education. My first book was a history of the NYC public schools.

As a historian, I have studied reform in NYC and in cities across the nation.

Reform usually means shaking up the system. Centralize, decentralize, recentralize. Reorganize the bureaucracy, put the mayor in control, change the decision-making structure. Hire consultants, hire data analysts, hire coaches.

Or reform means outsource the schools to private entrepreneurs.

Or reform means more standardized testing. Interim assessments, test prep. Testing and more testing. More testing does not produce more learning or better grades.

These so-called reforms barely move the needle, if at all. 

Class size reduction is a far more powerful reform than any of the above.

Grades improve, discipline improves. Teacher morale improves.

Children get the attention they need. Class size reduction is especially valuable for the children with the greatest needs.

With smaller classes, teachers have the time they need to do their jobs. 

Chairman Treyger, you are right. Reform begins with the needs of children, not the limits of space.

Class size reduction is the most powerful reform you can enact.