“Redemption” – Gotham Schoools column

David Bloomfield 

At this point in the Mayor’s remaking of our school system, claims of dramatic academic gains seem built on sand.

Analyses prepared for Assemblyman James Brennan by legislative aide Shawn Campbell demonstrate that the Bloomberg administration grossly overstates the impact that the reforms have had on New York City’s student achievement. State test scores are tainted by the exams’ designed-in flaws.  Progress Reports’ school grades are malleable, rising or falling according to administration convenience. Graduation rates are untethered from college and career readiness.  They are the end result of suspect strategies called “credit accumulation” and “knowledge management,” not subject mastery and understanding.

But the Mayor has a renewed opportunity to value learning over his well-known data obsession. Like Midas, who confused gold for true wealth, the DOE can redeem the promise of mayoral control by focusing on instruction. A vast literature exists for what works. New funding is promoting necessary research and development. Structural innovations like accountability, teacher merit pay, charter schools, and vouchers show varying, if any, success and, even if effective, have no capacity to directly improve learning. The Mayor’s cheap trick — hands off schools, just measure their outcomes — is an irresponsible abdication of leadership. It betrays his and his Chancellor’s instructional ignorance. . . . (continued at http://gothamschools.org/2009/11/18/redemption)

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