Matt Di Carlo noticed an odd sentence in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “State of the City” address. The mayor, as is now customary, was applauding his administration for the amazing progress of the schools under his stewardship, and he said the following, in anticipation of the new Common Core assessments:

“But no matter where the definition of proficiency is arbitrarily set on the new tests, I expect that our students’ progress will continue outpacing the rest of the State’s[,] the only meaningful measurement of progress we have.”

Di Carlo skillfully takes apart that sentence to show that the mayor has no idea what he is talking about. If the “definition of proficiency” is “arbitrary,” as the mayor says, then the state tests cannot possibly by “the only meaningful measurement of progress we have.”

Di Carlo provides a graph to show that proficiency rates can be set arbitrarily, in which case they can give whatever answer you want, not a “meaningful measurement of progress.”

I know that Di Carlo won’t agree, but we won’t be able to reclaim education until we stop using statistics to measure what matters most in education. Nor will we be able to have good education until politicians give up their effort to impose their uninformed ideas on the schools and stop claiming credit for work they did not do.