Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bloomberg and Klein's personal credit recovery program

See the presentation given by Klein to business leaders yesterday. Some news accounts here: Times, GothamSchools, NY1, Post, Daily News.

As usual, the Chancellor tried to take credit where no credit is due -- for big increases in test scores that occurred in the winter and spring of 2003, despite the fact that his policies were not implemented until the following fall. Perhaps these retroactive claims are Klein and Bloomberg’s personal credit recovery program.

In fact, DOE officials and the mayor were quite subdued when there were big test score gains in 2003. For more on this, see our blog here.

As the Times pointed out when the state ELA scores were first reported on May 21, 2003:

The city's positive results come at a time when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, are trying to overhaul the public school system and impose a uniform reading and math curriculum at all but the highest performing schools.

…Experts said the sharp increase in test scores could prove problematic for Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein, since it is too early for them to take credit and sets a benchmark for next year that may be hard to match….

The higher scores, particularly at schools that have showed sustained increases since 1999, also gave new ammunition to critics of Mr. Bloomberg's changes, who said that they might do more harm than good by disrupting existing programs….

This is how the state math gains were reported when they were released on October 22, 2003:

Fourth graders across the state made stunning gains in their math scores last spring, with even sharper increases in New York City…In the city, news of the gains, which were particularly pronounced in the Bronx and in some of the poorest-performing districts, elicited cheers among teachers and principals. But not everyone greeted the news so enthusiastically:

The suggestion that city schools were on the upswing put Chancellor Joel I. Klein, who is overhauling them, in a tricky position. While the chancellor’s critics pounced upon the higher scores as evidence that the school system did not need such an overhaul, some of his allies acknowledged that he would now be under even more pressure to show gains next spring.

A more accurate and fair analysis would look at data only from 2003-2008; instead of claiming credit for gains that occurred before the Bloomberg/Klein policies were put into place.

2.. None of these gains is meaningful given the evidence of the NAEPs, which shows no significant progress in NYC since 2003 in any grade or subject except for 4th grade math. We know that the state tests have been inflated, and there’s been terrific amount of test prep in NYC and teaching to the test, unrelated to any real gains in learning.

3. See slide 13: as of 2004, still only 55% of NYC eighth graders who make a 700 --level 3 – graduate in four years. (not even counting the discharge rates which would bring their actual graduation rate even lower. ) This is a huge repudiation of the quality of our high schools. Even the fact that only 87% of 8th grade students who hit level four, the highest level, graduate on time is pretty awful.

4.No info is offered on the results of the science and social studies exams – which are low-stakes tests, like NAEPs, and thus more reliable. Unlike math and ELA scores, for which the DOE offers financial rewards to teachers, schools, and kids, with little or no protections against cheating, these are the exams where we could expect less distortion in results.

NYC continues to have some of the lowest scores in the state in those subjects, even in the largely middle class districts. 28 of 32 districts in NYC were in the bottom 10% in the state in Science; 26 of 32 districts were at the bottom 10% in the state in Social Studies.

I’m sure there’s more deception and spin in these slides; please take a look and leave a comment on the comment page!