There is little stability in the year-by-year individual school evaluations. Many schools found to be inadequate by the state are ranked high by the city and vice versa. Thus parents are increasingly baffled by the grades assigned to their children’s schools. Teachers are demoralized because they are under pressure to narrow the curriculum and teach to the state tests. Principals qualify for cash bonuses if their school’s ranking goes up; on the other hand they face the threat of closing if the school’s grades go down. Not surprisingly they are tempted to game the system by, for example, allowing students who have not completed their course work to graduate. Even The New York Post, among the mayor’s most enthusiastic supporters on education issues, now recognizes that the progress report “erodes confidence in the mayor’s management — endangering his legacy and undermining respect for vital reforms, like mayoral control of the schools.”
Stern then takes aim at not just the mayor's education reform centerpiece, but test-based education reform as a whole:
This debacle was entirely predictable. Testing experts have recognized that accountability schemes based so heavily on standardized tests can lead to fraud. The principle even has a name: Campbell’s Law, after Donald Campbell, one of the greatest American social scientists of the 20th century, who concluded that “when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”
Of course things are going to get much worse before they get better because the state has put a new teacher evaluation system into place, APPR, that requires all teachers be evaluated using their students' test scores.
Additional standardized tests in every grade in every subject are going to be added all throughout the year not so that children can be assessed but so that their teachers can be evaluated.
The geniuses who put this system into place - Obama, Duncan and Gates who have promoted and funded it at the national level, Cuomo, Tisch and King who pushed this through at the state level, and the union leaders like Mulgrew and Iannuzzi who haven't challenged the premise of test-based accountability in any practical way - are going to have a lot to answer for when this generation of students damaged by test-based accountability become adults.
As for Bloomberg, the citizens of this city know that the mayor has no clothes when it comes to education and the school system - the latest Marist/NY1 poll shows that 49% believe the school system is worse now than a generation ago, another 16% say the quality is about the same despite all the dramatic changes wrought by Bloomberg.
The mayor has gotten a Mayor Data Report and the score is an "F".
Sol Stern was once a supporter of the mayor's reforms.
But Stern sees the damage that has been done by this regime, just as many New Yorkers see it, and says the following:
The perverse incentives of the progress reports cause harm — to the kids, to the teachers and principals and to the parents. It’s time for the Bloomberg administration to face this inconvenient truth and restore integrity to the accountability system.
I would add one thing - it's time for the Accountability Mayor to face some accountability for his failures himself.