NY School Testing Results in Higher Scores, More Arguing

by NYC Firm Schools on August 7, 2009

Standardized testing results in NY Schools, recently discussed in a NY Times article, focuses much on the dissent among the political and educational professionals and their opinions on the recently released NY Public school’s testing results. Many believe that “teaching to the test” increases grade points but is detrimental to the overall education of our nation’s youth, while others argue that schools who do not “teach to the test” run the risk of high percentages of students failing, and thus rendering funding and sponsorship by the government unavailable under the No Child Left Behind program.

One of the hallmarks of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s seven-year stewardship of New York’s public schools has been an intense focus on standardized tests. The change has also aroused opposition, as critics question whether an overemphasis on developing test-taking skills is overtaking more valuable lessons in critical thinking.

the Bloomberg administration has used the rising test scores as evidence of improved teaching and learning under its direction. Still, educators continue to debate the true value of the tests and a curriculum guided by them, arguing that some of the rise in scores is attributable simply to students’ growing comfort with test-taking, and that some of the skills developed to prepare for the exams, like time-allocation techniques and multiple-choice shortcuts, are poor substitutes for true understanding of key concepts.

Critics ask: If students were really learning more and better, as opposed to just better learning the state testing protocol, wouldn’t their performance rise on all manner of measurements?

The argument here is valid and educators have been bemoaning the need to teach students testing techniques rather than a real understanding of the material but, overall, many of these schools are caught in a no-win situation. The interesting thing here is that, while many in NY celebrate the increased testing scores recently published, others are disagreeing with their validity all together. For a great read of testing and results validity, click here to read a spirited argument between a NY Times editor and a NY Public School parent.

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