Friday, October 30, 2009

State Ed. Bureaucracies Fail the Test -- The One for INTEGRITY

Integrity: in-teg-ri-ty
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire or undiminished.

"We're lying to our children."

That no-so-subtle remark came from none other than the United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. He was commenting yesterday on the dumbing down of state-developed standards and assessments, which was documented in a study just released by the Department's National Bureau of Education Statistics.

Articles on this subject appear in today's Wall Street Journal, New York Times and New York Post.

Conspicuously absent in these articles was any comment by the New York State Education Department. New York was one of 15 states that was found to have lowered one or more standards, while it also was one of eight states that raised one or more standards.

It's not reassuring for New York that some states like Oklahoma, Tennessee and Georgia had lower standards.

This national study reviewed standards from 2005 to 2007, so it doesn't include any analysis of any further dumbing down since this period, which is widely believed to be the case in New York. The 2009 results on state exams in math, for example, were 47 and 52 points below proficient levels for 4th and 8th grades, respectively, compared to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), as previously discussed on The Chalkboard.

There is no shame in having "lower" test scores in a state, compared to other states, if it can be shown that the standards are high. Such integrity in testing can better focus classroom instruction to improve those results for students as we prepare them for adulthood when being responsible starts to matter more. What a concept. It's apparently been lacking in too many state education bureaucracies around the country.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard

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