GOOD

C'mon Mayor Bloomberg, Let's Stop and Frisk Some Test Scores

Just as NYC police found in most stop-and-frisk cases, when you analyze standardized test scores, there's nothing there.

I'd rather have a tall glass of "innocent until proven guilty," whether it's about my standing as a citizen in New York City or my students' test scores.


This month has been rather unsuccessful for Mayor Bloomberg and two of his political postures: his stance on stop-and-frisk and his direction in education reform. Despite what comes out of his office, everyone ought to recognize it as a major fail, and a blow to an already tarnished third term.

I can't tell you how quickly my jaw dropped when I saw my school's test scores. I didn't get a glimpse of them, but when I heard only ~30 percent of students "passed" the English or math test, AND that the scales were aligned to the National Assessment of Educational Progress I knew NYC would be in some trouble. I sighed, and hoped none of my students took the drop personally. Only a handful of eight graders at my school got a 4, the highest level possible.

I also can't understand the games some adults play with their lives, especially when they tie these scores to all types of notions, including their scholarships, honors classes, and their actual ability as students.

Then I read this by Diane Ravitch and almost flung my phone at someone:

The state didn't just "raise the bar." It aligned its passing mark to a completely inappropriate model.

The state scores have four levels: level 4 is the highest, level 1 is the lowest. In the present scoring scheme, students who do not reach level 3 and 4 have "failed."

NAEP has three levels: "Advanced" is the highest (only about 3-8% of students reach this level). "Proficient" is defined by the National Assessment Governing Board as "solid academic performance for each grade assessed. This is a very high level of academic achievement.") "Basic" is "partial mastery" of the skills and knowledge needed at each grade tested.

"Proficient" on NAEP is what most people would consider to be the equivalent of an A. When I was a member of the NAEP governing board, we certainly considered proficient to be very high level achievement.

New York's city and state officials have decided that NAEP’s "proficiency" level should be the passing mark.

They don't understand that a student who is proficient on NAEP has attained "a very high level of academic achievement."

\n

And then it hit me. The fact that we can't even compare any one year's scores with other years for the last decade speaks volumes about the sorts of education policy we've encountered in NYC. To bewilder, anger, and frustrate parents, students, and educators across the city looks less like collaborative learning and more like a shakedown.

Speaking of which, a judge ruled on Monday that "stop-and-frisk"—questioning or otherwise—is unconstitutional. I wish Bloomberg, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and the NYPD would have stopped this nonsense back when we deemed it inappropriate. Despite 57 percent of white residents of NYC approving of stop-and-frisk, it rarely affected them—86 percent of those affected were black or Latino, and at a 12 percent success rate, it did more to agitate relationships between certain communities and the Giuliani-inspired police state.

In both instances, it's very easy to blame the system for its inefficiencies—or the people who lead these systems—as some politicians do. It's more appropriate to hold the right people accountable for the direction NYC has gone in for the last decade. That's what mayoral control ought to mean.

We can't say the teachers didn't teach when scores go badly and take the credit when scores get inflated. We can’t take pride in stopping and frisking black and Latino youth, yet continually tell these communities that it’s what’s best for them. The citizens of NYC demand respect, as parents, as citizens, as people seeking a better way.

As a person affected by both of these initiatives, I thought to myself, "What if we stopped frisking my students and instead stopped and frisked education reformers with quick-fix disaster plans coming into our public schools? What if we created environments that cared for our most disenfranchised?"

In the meantime, I implore all of you reading to stop and frisk those test scores. You might find, as Bloomberg did, nothing at all.

Click here at add attending a school board meeting to your GOOD "to-do" list.

A version of this post originally appeared at The Jose Vilson.

Image via lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Articles

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

An anonymous White House official claims President Trump cruelly limited Hispanic immigrants in their new book, "A Warning."

The book, to be released on November 19, gives an alleged insider account of the Trump White House and paints a picture of the president as a chaotic man who lacks the mental and moral acumen required for the job.

The anonymous staffer says that Trump once feigned a Hispanic accent and made fun of women attempting to immigrate to the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture