Friday, August 20, 2010

The Test Data Switcheroo

You know the old saying, "Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts"? Well, that may be changing. It appears that Mayor4Life Bloomberg and his stooge Joel Klein have not only created their own set of facts regarding the bogus ELA and math exam scores they have touted for years, but the New York press seems all too willing to push their set of facts as truth. Witness the op-ed piece in the Post by Joel Klein.

In it, Klein claims the achievement gap between minorities and white students is narrowing when, in fact, this year's scores prove that the current regime has done virtually nothing to narrow that gap over their entire tenure. According to the Times:

"...the latest state math and English tests show that the proficiency gap between minority and white students has returned to about the same level as when the mayor arrived. In 2002, 31 percent of black students were considered proficient in math, for example, while 65 percent of white students met that standard."

Klein goes on to tout more of his own facts, saying that the reason for the achievement gap stagnating is not his own monumental incompetence, but 'the state's decision to alter the definition of "proficiency"'.

Then, in an act of hubris that boggles the mind, Klein completely ignores the state results and begins to talk about the city's "progress" in the NAEP--the very national test that he steadfastly ignored in order to focus on the bogus NYS scores. Says Klein: "First, on the rigorous and respected National Assessment of Educational Performance exams, the city's African-American and Hispanic students have been closing the gap with white students across the nation. Using students' actual "scale") scores, the black-white gap in fourth grade has closed by 9 points in reading since 2002 and 4 points in math since 2003. In those same years, the Hispanic-white gap has closed by 5 points in reading and 6 points in math."

Did you notice the switcheroo here? Klein is using scale scores from the NAEP when he uses percentage points in discussing the state tests. The average scale score for NY students was 264 last year. A gain of four points in eight years is statistically insignificant. It's not even a 2% gain, which is hardly what Mayor4Life claimed when he said “In some cases, we’ve reduced (the achievement gap) by half.”

The Times helped put the lie to that statement in an recent article: "...there was no statistically significant improvement in the scores of Asian, white or Hispanic students from 2002 to 2009, the NAEP reported. And achievement gaps between white and minority students persist... Among eighth graders, 41 percent of white students were proficient, compared with 13 percent of Hispanic students and 12 percent of black students. "

Now if I, a random teacher (and not even a math teacher at that) can poke holes in Klein's claims, why didn't the Post even bother to verify what he was saying?

When Klein fails, he switches from the NAEP to the NYS test and back to the NAEP. Then he switches from using percentages to "scale" score to try to prove far greater gains than actually exist. It's the old switcheroo, and not even a subtle one.

Unfortunately, when teachers receive their ratings after next year, we will be stuck with whatever numbers Klein sees fit to dump on us. There will be no appeal and no op-eds in the Post supporting you. That is the state of the education profession as it exists in NYC in 2010.


NYC Educator said...

Well, in case you haven't noticed, the Post tends to have sort of an editorial bent. Actually, the News and even the Times are not far behind.

Anonymous said...

The Death of Great American Journalism: Bowing and Scraping Before the Billionaire Deformers, featuring the New York Times, New York Post, Daily News, and the Los Angeles Times.

Anonymous said...

Happily most people don't believe it. Have you noticed how much the chancellor has been on the defensive? Now I may be a cockeyed optimist, but I think the mayor's "legacy" is in deep trouble and he knows it.

Anonymous said...


I would like to share this with my colleagues. Last night I was watching Councilman Robert Jackson, chairman of the committee on education, as he questioned the new deputy chancellor, Marc Sternberg, and the director of OSEPO (forgot her name) about student placement especially at the high schools with respect to the ELLs and Special Needs students. So I did a google search on Marc Sternberg and here's what I found.

Marc Sternberg, Former principal of Bronx Lab HS (Evander Child Campus) is the new deputy chancellor of Portfolio Planning as of July 1st. He was also a TFA teacher who parlayed his three years of teaching to become a principal, a deputy chancellor while keeping his Vice President position of Victory Schools, an organization that launches and manages charter schools. Isn't anyone going to question this?

The DoE continues to hire administrators that have ties to charter schools organizations. There's a fox watching over the hen house! The 460 charter schools cap came with an affiliation to those people who will work in Tweed to squeeze in their preferred charter schools.

here's the link to the info: