Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

John Liu: Too Much Emphasis On High Stakes Testing in New York City Schools

He penned this for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

This week New York City students in grades 3 through 8, with their No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils nervously in hand, are struggling through the math portion of the annual New York state tests. Once again, these scores — along with their English Language Test results from last week — will determine crucial educational outcomes in their lives.

In this elementary and middle school equivalent of “who will live and who will die,” these tests often decide whether a child can advance to the next grade, be held back or be required to attend summer school.

But this high-stakes testing has enormous implications for teachers and entire school communities as well. Mayor Bloomberg has repeatedly and publicly called for teachers to be evaluated based on these test scores. And his Department of Education has closed down more than 100 New York City public schools predominantly because their students did not perform well on the high-stakes tests.
All this, despite the fact that high-stakes testing results have been criticized as unreliable.

Tests are an important measure of student knowledge and the success that a teacher has had in getting concepts across to his or her class. But they are by no means the only way to measure teacher performance. Report cards that cover an entire quarter’s performance and several months’ worth of teacher commentary are also good evaluators.

High-stakes tests have become problematic because they now hold such a heavy sway in determining a child’s, a teacher’s and even a school’s future. Yet they occur so infrequently as to be obviously susceptible to a bad day, a stomachache or getting up on the wrong side of the bed.

The New York state tests in Math and English Language Arts are given over a two-week period once a year. The New York City Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHAT), which determines which students get selected to attend one of the city’s elite public high schools, is given on one day every winter.

The SATs have taken on too big a role in deciding whether a student will attend a good college. Too much power is invested in these tests and the price that our students, educators, and school communities pay because of their outsized influence is embarrassingly high.

I favor more frequent, low-stakes testing: the Friday spelling test with papers folded in half and a list of 10 words, five on each side, that are put on the blackboard the previous Monday; the history pop quiz that gets handed out as the high-schoolers walk into their classroom. How about the impossible math problem up on the board that takes an entire period to unravel? These are all good methods for discovering how much our students know and whether their teachers are effective.

We need to remember that tests are merely tools, tools that are best utilized by educators to get a handle on how to do their jobs better, on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis.

High-stakes tests should not shape the destiny: for students, teachers or for entire school communities.

It is high time we break the yoke of high-stakes testing and broaden the conversation on public education in our city.

No wonder they have tried to destroy Liu with a jive campaign finance fraud "investigation."

Liu's politics are too outside the oligarchical mainstream views.

So they went after him for campaign finance fraud on $7000 donations.

Meanwhile Mayor Bloomberg, who according to the NY Daily News bribed his way onto the Independence Party line through three elections - two of which were won by the margin of votes he garnered on the Independence Party ballot line - somehow isn't under investigation for bribery and campaign finance fraud even after he admitted to laundering money to the Independence Party during the Haggerty trial.


  1. Christine Quinn is not mayoral material.

    John Liu is mayoral material

    1. Agreed.

      Unfortunately the campaign finance fraud investigation they launched against his bundler will keep him from even contending.

      He's in single digits in the polls.

      I did see where Weiner says he's going to decide soon whether to run.

      He also said he couldn't be sure if there aren't more photos of him out there that reveal more than we need to see.

      If he enters, he makes the whole thing a circus.

      I suspect he will enter because 1) he needs the attention and b) the powers that be want to make the whole thing into a circus so that can get either Quinn or Lhota in.

  2. Disgusting that Bloomberg had such sway with the US Attorney's office that he could get them to destroy Liu's political future with this investigation of chump change violations.

    How about looking at Bloomberg's relationship and transactions with the Independence Party?

    But, no, accountability and law is for the little people.

    1. Yeah, I completely agree.

      There is a link between the launch of that investigation and when Liu stuck it to Bloomberg after the comptroller election.

      Remember when Bloomie invited him for lunch and Liu said, "Sorry, I have other things to be doing today!"?

      De Blasio, meanwhile, met with Bloomberg and broke bread with him right in the table by the window.

      Quite a symbol - the public advocate, breaking bread with the mayor he's supposed to watch over.

      A little after that, they went after Liu.

      That was no accident - over $7,000 donations.

      Bloomberg funneled millions to the Independence Party, and won two elections by the margins of the votes he received on the Independence Party line.

      But no investigation on Bloomie.

      Too rich to go to jail.

  3. It is not clear what is holding Liu back in the polls. I am not sure that the donations funneling is that important. Liu can present himself as the only real "anti-Bloomberg" candidate. Why is that not a winnable strategy?

    1. You're right that the investigation is not the only thing holding Liu back in the polls. But it does act as a cloud over him and you have to wonder what kind of unconscious effect it has on him and the people working in his campaign.