Over the past decade, New York students made dramatic gains on state tests. This progress helped propel Michael Bloomberg to his third term as New York City mayor in 2009. But, as we learned a few months ago, some of those gains were illusory—products of shoddy tests and slipping standards. This long New York Times article gives the back story and digs into the dirty details. There were plenty of design and process flaws, but the biggest problem, it seems, is that New York made it too easy to teach to the test. By making the tests public after the fact, and not switching the format from year to year, it encouraged teachers to prepare students for narrow assessments, rather than teach them more broadly. Experts such as Daniel Koretz sounded the alarm long ago, but to no avail. Until now. For those of us who believe that test-based accountability is an indispensable tool, let us learn these lessons or live to regret it.
“On New York School Tests, Warning Signs Ignored,” by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, October 10, 2010.
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