Posts Tagged ‘Test Scores’

18th January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January 18, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Nothing will grab a headline faster than rating schools with a letter grade. We saw it here in New York City when the Department of Education recently assigned grades to all of its schools. Last week, the national trade newspaper, Education Week, released its “grades” for each of the 50 states. Astoundingly, on the top of the list with a composite total grade of “B” in this “Quality Counts” evaluation, is the State of New York.

A closer examination of these results clarified the situation. Education Week used a weighted average of six components to arrive at their final grade. Only one of these components has to do with academic results, the one labeled “K-12 Achievement.” The rest of the components basically fall into the category of evaluating state education policy for good intentions, measured by such things as how much money is spent on their schools, and whether it is spent in an “equitable” way.

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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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7th December
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, December 7, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

It isn’t often that I hear the name of my old junior high school on the radio, but on Wednesday morning I was greeted by the news of its impending demise.

Despite test scores that, while not stellar, were not even near the bottom of the pack, Chancellor Klein announced that P.S. 79 is being “closed.” Closing is less drastic than one would think. Most of the educators will keep their jobs. What will change is the number of the school or schools that will reside in this venerable old building.

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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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11th May
2007

First Published by The New York Sun, May 11, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The chancellor’s announcement on Monday of the implementation of the mayor’s Fair School Funding initiative sounded wonderful — on the surface. Chancellor Klein declared, “Our new Fair Student Funding formula will help us level the financial playing field, making sure that all schools receive what they need to educate their students, so all schools can be held to the same high standards.”

In reality, this plan will come back to haunt Mr. Bloomberg, the next mayor, and the taxpayers. Recent history tells us that it is unlikely that students will benefit from more funds and that some may suffer from what looks a lot like income redistribution. (more…)

30th April
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, April 30, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The No Child Left Behind law, dear to the heart of the president, is due for reauthorization. And unlike the good feelings that surrounded the initial passage, the debate surrounding reauthorization has already taken on an ugly tone.

The first time this came up, Washington was a different town. For one thing, the Republicans ruled the roost on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. It was early in the Bush administration, just after September 11, that short interlude when partisanship seemed somehow inappropriate. (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…)

9th February
2007

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

By Andrew Wolf

W. Stephen Wilson teaches mathematics at Mayor Bloomberg ’s alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. Last fall he conducted an experiment on the students in his Calculus I course.

Professor Wilson administered the same final exam to last fall’s students that he used for the same course in the fall of 1989. He chose that year because he was able to obtain data for both his exam and the SAT math scores for both cohorts of students. (more…)

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