Posts Tagged ‘Cheating’

6th November
2008

By Andrew Wolf

Lost in the tidal wave of news surrounding the election was the announcement that State Education Commissioner Richard Mills will be leaving his post after thirteen years.

Mr. Mills began his tenure as a fresh breeze of reform, attempting to impose high academic standards on a sinking system. But he has morphed into a leading apologist for systematic test inflation that undermines educational policy at all levels.

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4th January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January 4, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

On Tuesday, elementary school pupils in the city will sharpen their number two pencils and sit down for two or three days of the state’s English language arts test. The following Tuesday, it will be the turn of middle school students.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Not so much for the students, since only a small proportion in only some grades are held back, despite the city’s policy of “ending” social promotion. The real pressure is on the principals and teachers to “perform.”

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21st December
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, December 21, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

A lot is now riding on the examinations administered each year by the State of New York. The state uses these results to determine compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind law, and failure to maintain “annual yearly progress” determines whether students are permitted to transfer out of a school or receive supplemental tutoring at taxpayer expense and even whether a school should be closed.

The city uses these tests to determine the new “report card” grades of schools, upon which depend the continued employment of principals, performance bonuses given to principals and administrators, and now also school-wide bonuses given teachers. Using different criteria than the state, the city Department of Education also determines the continued existence of the school itself. It is not only conventional public schools that are graded and evaluated, but charter schools as well.

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19th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 19, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Anyone who harbors the notion that Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have just won a victory over the teachers’ union by gaining approval of a merit pay scheme had best look more closely. The plan announced on Tuesday was indeed a “slam dunk,” but not by the mayor and chancellor. It is the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who leaves the bargaining table victorious. It may be a “historic” deal with national implications, but it is one that increases the power of the union.

At the center of most merit pay plans is the idea that individual performance should be rewarded. That is not part of this initiative. Rather it skews power to the group, each school becoming a sort of kibbutz, collectively governed, dividing the fruits of labor by committee. Even participation in the plan will be determined by a vote of the union members, 55% of whom will have to go along.

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12th June
2007

First Published by The New York Sun, June 12, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

As the schools chancellor joined in the announcement of a federal grant to test whether merit pay can lift performance in charter schools, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education confirmed that an investigation of test results was under way in a high-profile school in which the principal benefited from such a merit pay program.

The school is P.S. 33 in the Bronx. Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein traveled to the school in 2005 to announce their “historic” gains on the fourth-grade reading tests. That year P.S. 33 experienced a one-year gain of nearly 50 points; 83% of the students there were, according to the mayor, then reading at or above grade level. This not only helped the mayor win re-election but it won a $15,000 bonus for the school’s principal, Elba Lopez. (more…)

23rd March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 23, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Last week, New York State revised its list of schools under registration review, the so-called SURR list. These are schools that are performing so badly that they are being considered for closing.

The idea of closing schools departs a bit from reality. Demolition crews do not come in and level the building. Usually “closing the school” means changing the name and number of the school, removing the principal and some, if not all, of the teaching staff. Most importantly for educrats, the school is now considered new, not failing, so it is removed from the SURR list. (more…)

29th September
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, September 29, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Last year, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein announced the results of the state and city reading tests in a press conference at a Bronx elementary school, Public School 33. In this ancient building they announced that a great miracle had taken place. While scores rose in every elementary school grade citywide, nowhere did they rise more than in this virtually all-minority school, where nearly every child is so poor that he qualifies for free lunch.

This was an event of significance, taking place as the campaign for Mr. Bloomberg’s re-election was heating up. The announcement of the “historic gains” in reading scores was so powerful, that for all intents and purposes, it removed education as an issue that could be pursued by the mayor’s Democratic opponents. (more…)