All Articles Tagged "standardized tests"
Last Tuesday, while most folks were distracted by all the election day coverage, the School District of Philadelphia quietly announced its plan to restructure the city’s public school system, including closing 64 schools in the next five years.
Calling the plan an attempt to right size a district, which has been bleeding both seats and money, while making it competitive by offering parents more choices, Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen said that 40 schools would close by next year and six additional schools would be closed every year thereafter until 2017. The remaining schools would get distributed into “achievement networks” where public or private groups compete to manage them while the Central District headquarters would be reduced to a skeleton crew of about 200. The District chief also said that the ultimate goal is to have about 40 percent of students in Philly’s public school system moved to charter school management by 2017.
The announcement of basically the dissolution of the School District of Philadelphia, a city that’s the fifth largest city in the nation, has received minimum attention in the mainstream media. Even as the city of brotherly love becomes the latest city to weaken under the prospects of trying to balance budgets, while working with decreasing amounts of funding, meet the standards of federal No Child Left Behind guidelines and compete with the sudden rise in charter schools, which continues to pull necessary monies and resources from the already battered school districts. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, “across Pennsylvania, school boards are finding it increasingly difficult to manage tax dollars responsibly as the pressure to open more charter and cyber-charter schools builds, even as these schools show little evidence of performing better than regular public schools.” And it is not just Pennsylvania.
In Detroit, which last year announced plans to close half of that city’s schools and increase high school class sizes to 60 students, the city has also embraced charter schools as the cornerstone of its “Renaissance 2012″ plan even as the performance of the district’s 14 authorized charters so far has been less than impressive. In New York City, which has undergone a similar style restructuring plan similar in kind to Philadelphia, has too not seen the success as promised through its reduction of publicly held schools in favor of privately managed charter schools.
According to Diane Ravitch, former Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, New York City has not gotten the remarkable results it promised. She writes, “The city’s proficiency rates, which seemed to be flying up by leaps and bounds every year, got deflated in 2010 when the State Education Department admitted lowering the cut scores on state examinations. Overnight, the New York City miracle disappeared, as the percentage of students who reached proficiency fell to levels near where they had been years earlier. And the achievement gap was as large as it had been in 2002, when the mayor took charge.”
(New York Times) — Sitting in the polished offices of a lawyer who specializes in corporate criminal defense, Beverly L. Hall looked tired. It is not easy being the pariah of a major American city. Dr. Hall, once named as the nation’s school superintendent of the year and a veteran of 40 years in tough urban districts including New York and Newark, now stands marked by the biggest standardized test cheating scandal in the country’s history. As Atlanta tries to sort fact from fiction and get back to the business of educating the 50,000 children in its public schools, Dr. Hall is left to defend her reputation, prepare for any possible legal action and consider whether her philosophy of education and style of leadership brought her to what is the lowest point in her career. “I will survive this,” said Dr. Hall, 65, in her first public interview since a scathing 800-page report by state investigators outlined a pervasive pattern of cheating at 44 schools and involving 178 educators.
(Wall Street Journal) — A state court on Thursday ordered New York City to release data that ranks thousands of school teachers based on student test scores, saying the public interest in disclosure overrides privacy concerns. In a blow to the teachers union, the court said the teachers’ names did not fall within six exemptions that protect personal privacy under public-records law. ”The reports concern information of a type that is of compelling interest to the public, namely, the proficiency of public employees in the performance of their job duties,” the appellate court panel wrote. Parents can’t peek at the teachers ranked as superstars or laggards just yet: The union, the United Federation of Teachers, said it would try to appeal the ruling. A Department of Education spokeswoman said the city would wait to release the data until the court makes a decision on whether to allow an appeal.
(Chicago Sun Times) — ACT test results across Chicago public high schools dipped this year. And they went up. It all depends on how you keep score. The test results went down a notch under a new counting method that compares this years’ juniors and seniors to last year’s juniors. But the results went up a notch, under an apples-to-apples measuring stick, comparing juniors to juniors, preliminary scores released Thursday indicated. Chicago Public School officials emphasized the more dire score calculations, however, and contended they proved the need for a longer school day and year, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been demanding.
(Chicago Sun Times) — More than three-quarters of Illinois high school graduates aren’t completely ready for college, based on their ACT scores, state results of the college-admission test released Wednesday show. Only 23 percent of Illinois’ 2011 high school graduating class — public and private — met college readiness standards in all four ACT subjects tested: English, reading, math and science. The biggest drag on preparedness, data showed, was college-readiness in science. There, only 28 percent of the 2011 Illinois graduating class scored high enough to predict they will probably land a C or better in the typical college freshmen science course in biology, the ACT report indicated.
(Atlanta Journal Constitution) — A sweeping subpoena shows a criminal investigation has begun in earnest involving test tampering at Atlanta public schools and that former Superintendent Beverly Hall could be a target, lawyers said Tuesday. The subpoena, issued by a Fulton County grand jury, seeks comprehensive information dating back to 1999 regarding teacher transfers and demotions, bonuses paid to employees for improved test scores and copies of complaints from parents, teachers or students of possible improprieties related to Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. The subpoena also seeks signed copies of “any and all oaths of office” taken by Hall when she was superintendent. ”It’s the first shot across the bow,” criminal defense attorney Jack Martin said. “This is a clear indication they are looking at criminal charges and that prosecutors are using the grand jury to get the records that could provide circumstantial evidence to support the investigation.”
(New York Times) — The team of six high school girls new to America sat frozen waiting for the next missing lyric, whiteboard and marker at the ready. They glanced toward their classmates, who sat nearby, in two competing teams. One of their instructors, Sam Sellers, otherwise known as Rabbi Darkside, started a beat. Then Jamel Mims, otherwise known as M.C. Tingbudong, began rapping the lyrics of a song whose rhymes did not contain the familiar curses or boasts, but the vocabulary that New York high school students need to pass their Regents test in American history. “Follow along closely so it won’t get convoluted,” Mr. Mims, 25, rapped, flicking his wrist to the beat. “The supreme law of the land is called the …” He paused. The girls conferred in their native language, Spanish, scrambled for the marker, and hoisted their whiteboard into the air. “The Constitution!” they shouted in English, reading off their answer.
(New York Times) — In April, Dale Mezzacappa attended a panel discussion on cheating sponsored by the Education Writers Association. At the time, she was one of three staff reporters for The Notebook, a community newspaper and Web site that covers the Philadelphia public schools. While few know of The Notebook, many know of Ms. Mezzacappa. For 27 years, until the newspaper industry’s near collapse, she was a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She is also a former president of the Education Writers Association. People trust Ms. Mezzacappa to get it right. After the panel discussion, an executive for a testing security company suggested she ask state officials if they had done a study flagging schools with suspicious numbers of erasures on state tests. In May, the state responded, sending Ms. Mezzacappa a file so large she needed technical assistance to download it.
(AJC) — About 30 Atlanta Public School employees implicated in a state cheating scandal have resigned or retired rather than go through termination, and the Fulton County district attorney has been asked to identify educators who won’t be prosecuted so the district can handle those cases first if it chooses. Superintendent Erroll Davis made those disclosures Thursday night at a town hall meeting in Buckhead. Davis said 130 to 150 educators named in a state investigative report released July 5 remained employed with the district, and the district was still deciding what to do next. The report named 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in improving students’ state test scores. More than 80 APS employees confessed to cheating. “I will tell you what they will not being doing,” Davis said. “They will not being going in front of children.” Davis also revealed that he met with Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, Jr. for nearly an hour Thursday. He would not release details of the conversation, other than to say the two discussed how their entities would proceed in dealing with educators implicated in the scandal.
(Afro) — Secondary and elementary school test scores are improving in Washington, D.C., according to the results of the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) tests released July 8 by officials. The DC CAS is an annual series of standardized tests given to third- to eighth-grade and 10th-grade students in D.C. public and charter schools that measure math and reading skills relative to the District’s standards. According to the schools chancellor’s office, this year’s DC CAS preliminary test results show steady improvements among secondary students, with particularly strong boosts in seventh and eighth grades. Elementary school scores show stabilized levels after last year’s decline. “We have much to celebrate and even more work to do. Incremental progress is not enough,” said Mayor Vincent Gray in a statement. “We, the collective ‘we,’ must ensure that each student can succeed and thrive in both the national and global economies.”