Slicing and Dicing Test Scores
October 13th, 2009

The Department of Education rolled out yesterday’s presentation by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein with all the rigmarole of a major announcement — advance emails, embargoed slides and a report, and a presentation on the 50th floor of JPMorgan Chase headquarters.

Most reporters, though, found the show and tell — about increases in student achievement under the Bloomberg/Klein regime — a bit short on substance. The presentation essentially tried to rebut the argument that test scores have gone up in New York City not because of mayoral control and Klein and his boss, but because of easier tests. To highlight his contention, Klein issued a number of charts showing achievement in New York City had increased more than in the state as a whole since 2002.

Writing on City Room, Jennifer Medina commented that the old Board of Education has “simply been replaced by a different kind of politics, centered on just how well Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, have done in the battle to improve city schools.”

“Neither the data nor the argument are new,” said GothamSchools, although it added that, “Klein has rarely made the argument in this much depth.”

Calling the timing of the presentation — three weeks before Election Day — “perhaps just as interesting” as the stats, Medina said Christopher Cerf, a former deputy chancellor who now works for the Bloomberg campaign, had helped prepare the presentation

“The chancellor denied that the release of the data was timed to give the mayor a boost on the eve of his first debate with challenger William Thompson,” the Daily News reported. “Nevertheless, a smiling Christopher Cerf, the education adviser for the mayor’s campaign, was working the room.”

The report showed that while the city has significantly narrowed the gap between it and the rest of the state, a division still exists. It also found that major gains still left some city schools lagging, most notably in the Bronx, which, despite a major increase in test scores, still ranks at the bottom of the state.

The business leaders in the room have generally supported the Bloomberg/Klein changes in city schools. As far as we know, no one asked, though, how many of them actually send their children to the schools that the mayor and his chancellor control.

By on October 13, 2009, 12:41 pm
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