Spinning the Scores
May 7th, 2009

Today marks the annual ritual of release of the test scores and while scores may rise fall or stagnate, one thing remains certain: Everyone involved in the high-pitched debate over education in general — and the running of the New York City schools in general — will spin the numbers to advance their aims.

In its announcement of results on the standardized state tests for third through eighth grades, state officials pointed to overall gains with 77 percent of students meeting state standards in English this year, compared with 68 percent last year. State Education Commissioner Richard Mills added, though, that the gains could be considered only “moderate” because so many students who achieved proficiency did so just barely, according to Philissa Cramer of GothamSchools .

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who have trumpeted increasing scores as they fight to keep the current system of mayoral control of the nation’s largest school system, came out swinging. “New York City elementary and middle school students made substantial progress in English this year, outpacing gains in the rest of the State at every grade level. This years progress builds on the consistent improvement that has occurred since Mayor Bloomberg was given control of the school system in 2002,” the press release said

Writing in the City Room, Jennifer Medina questioned some of the department’s bombast. She noted that, while more students meet standards, scores have edged up very slowly, leading skeptics to “wonder whether the states tests are simply becoming easier to pass.”

And while the mayor — and his cheerleader Carl Campanile at the New York Post — will undoubtedly say the scores have risen because of mayoral control, Medina notes “Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse have all shown larger improvements on the mean scores.”

Those cities have done so without the aid of mayoral control Joel Klein or Michael Bloomberg. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch put it this way. While saying mayoral control did not hurt New York City, she told reporters Mayoral control is not part of the conversation about the gains across the state.

By on May 7, 2009, 9:54 pm
In category: Albany,Education,Eye on Albany,Measuring UP | Comments Off on Spinning the Scores

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