A New Governance Law: Who Should Assess/Analyze/Evaluate School System Data? Who Can We Trust?

Is the NYC graduation rate 39% or 51% or 66%?
Did NAEP scores reflect an increase?
What has been the trend in the NYS test scores over the five years of Klein?
The thirty or so DOE Public Relations Department has a full time job of putting the “appropriate” spun on numbers. If we are to accurately judge the effectiveness of a school administration we must have an agreed upon set of data and an agreed upon organization to interpret the data.
Sol Stern, in the City Journal, cogently points to the manipulation of “the numbers” by the Klein administration.
While the Klein spinmeisters laud the recent NAEP 8th grade ELA scores Diane Ravitch, a member of the NAEP Board emphasizes that 3/4 of NYC 8th graders are below “proficiency.”
At a New School University panel deputy chancellor Chris Cerf proffered a 66% high school graduation rate, and Meryl Tisch, a member of the Regents, the New York State governing board, accused him of the “A” word – arrogance – as she recounted a meeting at which Klein and Cerf had agreed upon a 51% graduation rate.
Members of the New York State legislature, who still have to decide to continue, or change, or eliminate mayoral control are clearly suspicious of the Klein spin machine.
In the fall, under the radar, the research partnership announced it’s first set of research papers.
The partnership is a beginning, albeit a meager beginning.
The concept originated twenty years ago in Chicago, and the Chicago Consortium on School Research  has produced reams of research ad analysis that has driven much of the Chicago school reform efforts.
We need the equivalent is an Independent Budget Office, an organization “above the fray” that can look at “the numbers,” produce regular reports, ask researchers to conduct studies, and be the conscience of the school system.
At a recent Manhattan Institute forum Joel Klein raved about his performance, patted himself on the back so vigorously we feared for his health. Later in the morning Diane Ravitch reminded us that Klein acolytes keep a secret file on Diane, and, a la Joe McCarthy tried to discredit her. She went to on skewer Klein’s self adulatory numbers.
The kids, parents, teachers and taxpayers have a right to know: how are we doing? and have a right to have know that the analysis is a fair representation of the data.
The new governance law must contain these guarantees.

One response to “A New Governance Law: Who Should Assess/Analyze/Evaluate School System Data? Who Can We Trust?

  1. In questioning whether the DOE uses data honestly, you write that “thirty or so” people work in the Department’s “Public Relations” department. In fact, fourteen people (including two secretaries) work in the communications department.

    David Cantor
    Press Secretary
    NYC Department of Education


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