Test Scores

You may have noticed that while we were told that DC’s local NCLB/RTTT test scores went up a little bit this year, we were also told that NYState’s and city local NCLB/RTTT test scores went down tremendously.


What gives?

Both systems and city schools have been under the sway of charter-school privatizers and DEformistas for many years now. There has been an unbelievable, unprecedented turnover in the national cohort of school teachers. The DEformistas and privatizers have been dictating policy. The Deformistas (and their billionaire backers) ARE the educational establishment, and they have themselves hired the vast majority of teachers here in DC and NY.

So how come scores are supposedly way down in one place and a tiny up in the other?

The ‘old school’ type of allegedly “union-stifled” education is out: Big Data and Big Billionaires Rule, and have been doing so for some years now, with mostly brand-new teachers, but with kids who are not so different from their slightly older siblings and cousins and community members….

Plus they instituted Common Core, which is supposed to bring about more creative thinking in our teachers and students.
However, my friends who are still teaching tell me that their principals and other administrators require that each teacher follow a very strict, regimented script that allows for no creativity at all. Every single thought, every single teacher question, and every other detail that teachers are supposed to do, is spelled out. And, of course, the kids had better be able to follow the same script by answering the idiotic, long-winded test items correctly, if the teachers want to keep their jobs.

(But as far as I or others can actually see, the test questions given to the kids don’t really make a lot of sense; and the checklists and rubrics for judging teachers follow one particular philosophy and have never been shown to make any actual difference in the classroom; nobody has ever done any field tests to make sure the curriculum, the methodology of the pedagogy, or the test items have any reliability or validity in the field. All this allegedly ‘data driven’ verbiage has virtually no connection to how actual people learn and teach.

The new type of educrat and consultant has the pretty cross-linked chats, and the extremely high salaries, even though some of them still have trouble with percents. Nonetheless, a few of them have figured out some complicated ways of putting numbers on stuff and grinding that through formulas that obfuscate rather than clarify, resulting in a number they can use to fire or blame or give rewards. However, if the number doesn’t come out the way they like it, then they cheat and change it or hide it or make stuff up (one of Michelle Rhee’s specialties).

If it does come out favorably, then it gets trumpeted in all the media.

Another point of similarity between NY and DC: in both cases they have a new test this year. Which means it is at best very hard to compare scores of one test to the next. However, we members of the public are dependent on what they let us see. We can’t see the questions, are not told the actual number of correct answers,nor what the cutoff scores are, and so on.*

So much for actual “data”.  Just as with the federal government, under both Republicrat or Democan state or local or national leadership, more and more real important stuff is hidden while we are bombarded with trivial junk of all sorts. (Why do I have to be visually bombarded by mewspapers and magazines with pictures of the British monarchy or various movie star scandals every time I go walk down the street or get food at a store or visit a doctor or dentist, while at the same time the data resource people at DC’s OSSE doesn’t return phone calls? Or if I watch most TV channelse?

To me the most interesting thing is this:

1. The DEformistas like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Mayor Bloomberg and Wendy Kopp (of KIPP fame) and the Koch brothers and the Walton family have been claiming for quite some time that if they were able to gut the teacher union’s mighty powers and implement their policies (including mostly at first firing teachers and lots of tests but now including micro scripted and deadening curricula) then there was no boundary of excellence we would reach. We oiuld have 90% of the students reach the 90 th percentile at schools that were 90% poor and 90% minority (just the way Michelle Rhee pretended had happened in her classroom). They have set up those charter and voucher programs. They have showered money on the people in charge because of their excellence.

2. None of the rosy scenarios have actually come true.


I still haven’t answered ‘what’s up’ with the NYC and DC scores. Here is an interesting fact. KIPP is supposed to be pretty-much a teacher-proof school of excellence. They are rigid, they have doctrines and rules of excellence and data and standards that all teachers must follow. In NYC their scores collapsed this year, worse than in the regular public schools , according to Gary Rubenstein, but in DC they rose to I think their highest level.

Is the DC kipp so different from the NYC kipp Kopp operation?

Or is it more likely that the big difference is the tests and scoring systems — which are kept from us?

My conclusion: for qwhatever reason, the test makers and graders the stupid NYC test harder and the DC test a little easier this year. While following almost identical policies in both cities.

NYC scores go down a lot. DC scores go up a bit.

And then they blame the teachers.

In any case, these data are:
# unreliable

# inconsistent

# invalid.

# do show that the promises of the DEformistas have utterly failed.


* Keep in mind that anyone leaking test items to the public would be risking his/her job and fines and jail time. Not risking being placed in solitary or tortured or hunted into exile or called traitors like Manning or Snowden * but the penalties for test leaking are serious and are enforced. Unlike the penalties for illegally firing people, which are weak and essentially never enforced.  I think that Manning and Snowden are imperfect but brave heroes.

Published in: on August 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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