Even as this year's state tests have been revealed as error-riddled embarrassments, they continue to defend the "validity" of the tests and push for these scores to be used for high stakes decisions to close schools, fire teachers and hold students back.
The Daily News reports the state has had to throw out even more questions this week:
STATE OFFICIALS tossed out 20 questions from the foreign-language versions of the state math exam, citing sloppy translations, the Daily News has learned.
The latest revelations brought the total number of discredited state exam questions this year to 29, including six related to the infamous talking pineapple passage.
The foulups point to problems with the state’s $32 million contract with testing company Pearson, which is already taking heat over the previous mistakes.
The state offers the high-stakes math test in five foreign languages, so that elementary and middle-schoolers who are still learning English can take it.
The Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish versions all had at least one question disqualified.
“When children are taking a test and come upon a badly worded question, it can . . . affect their performance on the rest of the test,” said Advocates for Children executive director Kim Sweet.
In addition to the mistakes on the foreign language exams, state officials have disqualified three questions on the English-language version of the math test.
That’s far more errors than before Pearson took over the test this year.
And on the reading tests and English-language math exams, there was only a single typo in the past three years.
So how does Merryl Tisch, Regents chancellor and promoter of teacher accountability, respond to this mess?
She defends the validity of the tests despite all the errors:
“I’m not going to excuse mistakes,” she said but added, “Do these errors detract from the validity of the tests? No, I don’t believe so.”
NYSED Commissioner King, who you can't miss when he's on a "Teacher Accountability" tour around the state promoting the tying of teacher evaluations to test scores and the like tends to disappear when these stories about problems with the state tests come out.
And sure enough, the Daily News couldn't reach King for comment and instead got this from a flunky at the NYSED:
“Together with Pearson, we are reviewing proofreading protocols to improve these outcomes in the 2012-13 test cycle,” said state Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn. “In every instance where errors were identified, they were fully addressed to minimize impact on children.”
No, they weren't. Had Leonie Haimson not posted about the Pineapple and Hare debacle, the NYSED never would have thrown out that section of the test and forced Pearson to stop using it in the future.
And because these tests are now "secret" and will not be published after they're administered to students, we have to trust the NYSED and Pearson to find all the mistakes themselves.
Given the error-riddled nature of the tests and the defensive reaction both Pearson and the NYSED have had over these tests, and given how badly King and Tisch want to use these tests to fire teachers and close schools so that they can help their charter cronies open up in new markets, neither the state nor Pearson can be trusted to handle this anymore.
In fact, NYSED Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Tisch, two people who are so big on test-based accountability for teachers that they have happily upended the entire state education system to promote their accountability system on the backs of these flawed, invalid tests, cannot be trusted to lead on any education issues anymore.
It is quite clear from this test mess that neither one of them care a whit about students, teachers or schools.
If they did, they would take real responsibility for this mess and declare these error-riddled tests invalid.
No, King and Tisch care only about the politics of this, which is to use the tests to fire teachers and close schools, upend the education system around the state and bring the charterized chaos we in NYC have experienced via Bloomberg and Klein to the state as a whole.
It is time for both King and Tisch to go.
The governor, another accountability bully who has acted the part of a coward on this testing issue, needs to take a stand on this.
He's got a big mouth and usually won't shut up about teacher and school accountability.
But somehow he has nothing to say when the tests that the accountability movement is based upon are error-riddled crap.
You can call Governor Cuomo here and leave him a message:
And you can call Shelly Silver here and leave him a message.
518-455-3791 or 212-312-1420
Merryl Tisch and John King must lose their jobs over this.
They cannot be trusted to lead on education policy.
Who knows what other mistakes these people are making that they haven't been caught on yet?
And if this is how bad they have made the tests, how bad are they going to be make the value-added measurements that they're going to use for teacher evaluations?