Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Accountability

New York City has released its latest round of school "progress report" grades and (surprise, surprise) most schools improved. The Bloomberg/Klein reforms are working!

Some naysayers may point out that several schools went from F last year to an A this year (a pretty remarkable jump) and that one school that got an A last year got an F this time around (a remarkable jump in its own way). Those naysayers may also point out that one school that got an F was hailed as a rising school by Bloomberg and Klein not all that long ago. They might point out that these sorts of wild fluctuations seem suspicious.

A real downer of a personality might even go so far as to point out that state test scores (upon which these progress reports are largely based) rose around the state this year and that some Negative Nancys have suggested that maybe the tests are getting easier.

Frankly, I don't know. I hope that the schools are getting better the way Bloomberg/Klein say they are, but I'm certainly not going to believe it because it says so on a progress report - a progress report designed, by the way, by the very people who are now saying that it proves how successful they are. In that sense, it's like playing a made up game with a little kid where the kid is making up the rules as you go and - amazingly - always wins.

Again, I hope that I'm just being cynical.

It really kills me, though, to hear the talk about how these report cards are the reason that schools are improving. Really? Knowing their school is going to be graded makes it so that kids learn more? Receiving a yearly letter grade makes teachers better teachers?

Accountability is NOT AN EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY! I can't say that enough. Accountability only makes sense as a measurement of other reforms. In New York, at least, those other reforms are just more tests and measurements. More tests don't teach people, no matter what the little kids designing the game say.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I worked in a NYC public school for the last 4 years. Once I left I read an article that "Police Related Incidents" in schools declined under Bloomberg's watch- a category (coincidentally) tied to report card grades. I personally witnessed my principal NOT call the police- even in necessary situations since this was going to effect her report card grade in the end. Thanks Bloomberg for making our school safer.