Posts Tagged ‘State Education Department’

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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29th September
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, September 29, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

For the past six-and-a-half years I have frequently occupied space on these pages sounding off on everything from nepotism in Bronx politics to politically induced fear of eating French fries or Frosted Flakes. Most often I have written about our schools.

I came to this task with a point of view, influenced by the events of 1968 and 1969, turbulent years for society, but particularly for New York’s schools.

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4th August
2008

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

By Andrew Wolf

Could it be that just a few short years ago, at the top of the list of news stories in our city and state were the machinations surrounding the lawsuit filed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity to “adequately” fund New York’s schools?

I have written on this topic in this space perhaps a dozen times during the past six years, each time cautioning that the idea that merely spending more money will result in better outcomes. But for all our spending –and education expenditures have increased in the city by 79% in just six years - the pace of improvement, if any, is negligible.

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27th June
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, June 27, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

When one digs into the testing data released by the State Education Department earlier this week, one comes up with some surprises. The huge across the board gains in the statewide math and English language arts tests would suggest that all children should be doing better. But one group seems to be adrift when it comes to the English test.

Curiously, it is not the low performers, special education students, minorities, English language learners, or other “at risk” groups that is lagging behind. Rather, despite the soaring scores, it is the group of highest performers that is shrinking.

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16th May
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, May 16, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

The National Assessment Governing Board is in town, here for their quarterly meeting, the site of which rotates around the country. It is New York City’s turn to host the board, which represent a glimmer of hope in a largely bleak educational landscape.

NAGB is a federal agency that is truly non-partisan in the political sense. Think of it as a sort of bureau of weights and measures, providing a common measuring stick to measure the academic performance of our children.

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2nd May
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, May 2, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Herman Badillo is too much of a gentleman to use his speech accepting the Manhattan Institute’s Alexander Hamilton Award last week to attack the Department of Education over the half-hearted implementation of Mr. Badillo’s pet program to end “social promotion” in our public schools. But the elder statesman still made his point clear, reminding all present that this pernicious practice still lives.

During the years bridging the administrations of Mayors Wagner and Bloomberg, Mr. Badillo’s opposition to the practice of passing students on from grade to grade regardless of their academic achievement has been consistent. Since that time, we have gone through dozens of institutional restructurings of our school system, some major, some minor, most irrelevant.

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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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9th November
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, November 9, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The creation of school report cards with letter grades attached is an intriguing concept, which explains the enthusiasm by the editorial boards here in Gotham. At its center is a simple idea I advanced in this space more than five years ago, value added testing.

On October 4, 2002, I wrote, “The best schools are not necessarily those that score highest, but rather those that achieve the greatest improvement of their individual students. Only if we look at the schools by this measure can we evaluate the efficacy of the curriculum and teaching methods they employ.”

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28th September
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, September 28, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

There wasn’t much to celebrate when the National Assessment of Educational Progress test results disclosed earlier this week.

The news wasn’t particularly good nationally, with scores that were largely flat as compared with the results two years ago, deflating some of the president’s arguments as America reconsiders the No Child Left Behind law.

Nor was there much positive news here in the Empire State.

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13th April
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, April 13, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

History repeated itself Monday when the mayor and Chancellor Klein released a list of 100 or so supporters of the latest version of his ever-changing educational reform. Rather than listen to their critics and perhaps modify their own position, they dug in and attempted to blunt that criticism with the club of a petition.

That’s what happened in 2003 after a group of eight prominent experts in the field of teaching reading wrote the chancellor that the strategy he selected, Month-by-Month Phonics, was not backed by scientifically validated research and would not pass the scrutiny of the federal government for funding under the Reading First program of No Child Left Behind. (more…)

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