Tuesday, August 11, 2009

If The Students Are Improving, Then Why Are They Still Ill Prepared Academically As They Enter High School?


The Bloomberg/Klein propaganda machine on how the New York City Public School System has improved under their leadership has even convinced many of their critics that there has been some academic improvement. The critics just don't like the methods used to achieve the alleged academic improvement such as "social promotion". The Bloomberg Administration points out that there are less level 1 students and fewer students are required to go to summer school to advance to the next grade. While I do not support "social promotion" I, like many educators, do question the tactics used to artificially improve a level one student to be promoted to the next grade. In other words, the academic progress claimed by the Bloomberg Administration is all "smoke and mirrors".

The basis for improving a level 1 student to at least a level 2 is not based on academic achievement but relies on increasingly "dumbed down" State tests and matrices, numbing test preparation at the expense of a well-rounded educational program, and a liberal interpretation of grading the tests that raise the scores of the students taking them. Previously, I wrote a post on how some level 1 students actually graded out as level 3 students in the middle school State Math test.

While I am in contact with many elementary and middle school teachers who have told me how the State tests are a "joke", I am most familiar with the high school setting. At the high schools, many of the ninth grade teachers complain how unprepared both academically, and behaviorally the ninth freshmen classes are. The teachers attribute this to poor academic skills and lack of discipline as they enter the more mature High School environment. These teachers don't blame the middle school teachers but question the administrative dictates of both the Principals and the District Superintendents that looked the other way on student misbehavior but go all out on alleged employee misconduct, no matter how frivolous it is. Is it any wonder that teachers are reluctant to discipline unruly students when it could lead to corporal punishment and verbal abuse charges against the teacher? Furthermore, because of the idiotic school grade program by Tweed, School administrators are under intense pressure to raise student scores and not report violence which destroys teacher morale and control of their classroom.

How bad has the State tests been "dumbed down"? Even the normally pro-Bloomberg/Klein Daily News questioned the State tests Here, Here, and Here. Further, the New York Post had decided to actually publish Diane Ravitch's opinion piece that showed how failing students were passed along by the DOE because of the State test scoring method. Moreover, the new Board of Regents Chancellor,Merryl Tisch, has stated that the State tests are too easy and must be toughened. Let's see if the baseline federal NAEP and SAT scores show improvement. If they do, then the Bloomberg/Klein flawed education approach may be finally working, if poorly, but if the approach doesn't work, then let's expose the phony education reforms of Bloomberg and the immediate firing of Joel Klein and his non-educators at Tweed along with their "children last" program.

7 comments:

Pissed Off said...

Great post--I've been saying the same thing for years.

12 more years said...

Chaz- while I understand the concept, and recognize why parents prefer it, I can tell you that the K-8 model serves only to exacerbate what you describe. I can tell you first hand that the kids I teach are so incredibly coddled, it is almost sickening. Discipline, structure, and academic rigor are frowned upon. Holding the kids up to a higher standard is difficult at best, because many of my colleagues are more interested in being the kids' "friend" than in being their teacher.

At the risk of sounding old, and perhaps a bit cruel- back when I was in public school, the kids that read and did math "on grade level" were not necesssarily the best or brightest students. To me, the level 3 (on level) students I teach now are barely average, and most have below average skills. The level 2 kids are woefully unprepared for high school.

I don't know what the answer is. If I did, I'd probably have a better job.

Chaz said...

Only the teachers in the trenches know what is going on with the student's lack of academics. Of course so do the colleges where remedial courses are all the rage for NYC students.

WillTeachForChange said...

You can't make the tests hard. I'll lose my merit pay!

Anonymous said...

Chaz...see South Bronx School Blog. Last four entries.

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