Monday, June 7, 2010

Much Ado

The New York Post was shocked - shocked! - on their cover yesterday to discover that New York students were getting credit for putting the wrong answer on their state math tests. Those fiends at the DOE have done it again! Will there be no end to the dumbing down?

Amidst about 500 words of outrage over the policy - which was upgraded today to "controversial", apparently based on the fact that the New York Post wrote about it yesterday - it comes out that the reason kids are getting partial credit for those problems is that they show work demonstrating at least a partial understanding of the math principles involved.

I'm sorry, but that policy actually makes sense.

Look, ultimately it matters whether or not kids can solve math problems correctly. No argument from me on that point. But these tests are supposedly measuring student learning. If a child is able to demonstrate that they are learning - even if it's not as much as they should be - doesn't it make sense to account for that in our measurement?

The Post's "exclusive" yesterday is essentially an expose on giving credit for showing work, something that's been around at least since I was in school and probably before. It's certainly not a new policy on the New York state tests either.

Is the amount of credit being given for showing work too generous? Perhaps. I don't know. I do know that overheated Post rhetoric doesn't help.

That brings me to my last point of the morning. The more I read education reporting in the Post and other New York papers, the more troubled I am by the things I recognize to be misrepresentations or outright falsehoods. It makes me wonder what I would find if I knew more about, say, economics or world affairs. I mean, if we can't trust the papers to report accurately on education, how can we trust them to get right the big stories like this one?

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