Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mayoral Whatnow?

Well it looks like Mayoral Control is a go, with the Senate approving the bill 47-8 this afternoon. State Senator Dan Squadron (D-Brooklyn) has been in the middle of this, carrying the bill with Senator Frank Padavan (D-Queens) as Senators got a little rude before the vote.

A couple of regular readers have pointed out a Daily News article from earlier this summer on lower test scores, which should be a big issue in the mayoral campaign this fall. Let's run the jump...

Low test standards are a form of social promotion, say experts
BY Rachel Monahan and Meredith Kolodner DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Wednesday, July 15th 2009, 12:27 PM
Changes in the way the state is grading math and reading tests may have undercut Mayor Bloomberg's controversial decision to end social promotion, test experts say.
The mayor's policy requires that third-, fifth-, seventh- and eighth-graders earn a minimum score on state tests to move on to the next grade.
To earn a promotion this year, however, elementary and middle school students in every grade needed fewer points on both the state math and reading exams than they did in 2006.
"What appears to be happening in the last four years [is] the hurdle is getting lower," said
Fred Smith, a Bloomberg administration critic and former testing analyst for the Board of Education.
Smith was was one of the experts who reviewed the numbers and provided results to the Daily News.
In 2006, for example, third-graders had to get 44% of points on the math tests to earn a promotion, compared with 28% this year.
The reading tests show a similar pattern. The number of students who failed to make the cut in reading declined from 46,085 to 11,755 - a 75% drop in just three years.
"I have kids who really struggle as readers," said
Claudia de Luna Castro, who teaches fourth and fifth grades at Harlem's Central Park East II and had no students who scored at level one.
"It always makes me wonder when I see data that doesn't match my experience of my kids."
A top Education Department official defended the city's reliance on the state tests.
"The number of points you need to get correct one year to the next is not indicative of an easier or more difficult test," said
Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, a DOE senior adviser.
State officials said that the testing program was crafted by
McGraw-Hill and overseen by a panel of experts.
"Students had to get fewer questions right in 2009 than they did in 2006 [to earn the same score]," said state Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman, "because items on the 2009 test were more difficult than they were in 2006."
The Daily News recently reported the tests may have gotten easier.
State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said the tests were not rigorous enough.
"You can equate tests," she said, "but if you're not demanding a high enough standard, what you're equating is a low-level test."
"Ultimately, these children will struggle because they will find themselves in high school or somewhere they are not ready for," said
Carol Boyd, a parent leader with the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice. "We're moving them along, but we're setting them up to fail."

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