Archives for category: New York

State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia announced that only one school in the state had failed to meet the arbitrary benchmarks she set. It is J.H.S. 162 Lola Rodriguez De Tio.

Elia is directing NYC Chancellor Carmen Fariña to take dramatic action.

“J.H.S. 162 did not hit its targets, the State Education Department announced Wednesday afternoon. That means schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña has 60 days to appoint an outside entity, such as a school improvement expert or nonprofit, to oversee the school. The city could also decide to close or merge the school.

“Each persistently struggling school had to make at least 40 percent progress on a “demonstrable improvement index” to avoid independent receivership — and J.H.S. 162 reached 38 percent, missing some indicators by less than one point.”

So the school may be closed because it missed Elia’/ goals by less than a point.

Here’s an idea.

Elia should take control of the school, personally. Don’t give it to a charter chain or some turnaround firm. Let Elia do it. She set the goals. She should show the rest of the state what she can do. JHS 162 is on her conscience. Let her take responsibility for fixing it.

The Journey for Justice is working with other civil rights groups to bring thousands of people to demonstrate at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, where the first Presidential debate will take place on September 26. Details are below.

NEWS RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT: Jitu Brown
For Immediate Release 773-317-6343
September 15, 2016 http://www.j4jalliance.com

​Thousands expected to demonstrate @ Sept. 26th presidential debate in protest of public education cuts in African American and Latino communities across the nation
“It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary…”

CHICAGO – A national coalition of parents, students, teachers and activists have vowed to travel to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Monday, September 26th, and join with thousands of other people who will protest the first presidential debate due to cuts in public education and the impact on students of color. Activists, led by the Journey for Justice Alliance, have demanded Democratic nominee Sec. Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump release their respective K-thru-12 education platforms and meet with school leaders prior squaring off.

A coalition led by the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4JA) with more than 40,000 members from 24 cities across the US is galvanizing. Organizers say they will release a seven-point platform that tackles school privatization, the school-to-prison pipeline, standardized testing and a myriad of other failed education interventions that have led to massive school closings, charter proliferation and other schemes that have not improved education outcomes in urban communities.

“Our voices have been locked out of any discussion about public education during the race to the White House,” said Jitu Brown, national director J4JA. “Both Clinton and Trump have closed their ears to those of us who have protested, boycotted, waged hunger and teacher strikes demanding an end to corporate education interventions that have devastated students and schools.”

“Clinton, Trump and (Green Party candidate) Jill Stein have all been eerily silent on the impact of these bad policies and school-based cuts that have harmed African American and Latino students the most—yet they continue to campaign in our neighborhoods in search of our support,” said Brown. The award-winning activist gained national attention as the organizer and participant in a 34-day hunger strike to save Dyett High School in Chicago which forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to abandon his plans to destroy the school.

Added Natasha Capers, public school parent from the New York City Coalition for Education Justice, “We intend to gather that morning in a national forum on what’s been happening to us in our respective communities,” she said. “There is massive charter proliferation in New York despite the fact that research shows charters do not improve education outcomes. It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary.”

The Alliance will release a national public education platform in a forum called “Public Education Nation” co-sponsored by the Network for Public Education Action, which calls for a moratorium on school privatization; federal funding for 10,000 sustainable community schools; an end to zero tolerance policies; national equity in assessments; an end to the attack Black educators who are being terminated from urban school districts in record numbers; an end of state takeovers of trouble school districts where there is only mayoral control and appointed school boards; and, an elimination of the over reliance on standardized tests in public schools.

Parents and teachers have repeatedly lobbied law makers in their opposition to the destruction of community schools at the expense of publicly-funded, privately operated charter schools and over testing.

​“Where do the candidates stand on standardized testing and how those scores are tied to teacher evaluation,” said Nikkisha Napoleon, a public school parent in New Orleans. “Children in New Orleans have been devastated by racist education experimentation—and we’ve also seen a loss of African-American teachers in our city. Why is this happening in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit? I’m angry that people who live in our neighborhoods, have a history with our children and understand our culture are being driving out of our schools. Where do the candidates stand on the loss of veteran Black and Latino teachers?”

Added, Hiram Rivera, a public school parent and director of the Philadelphia Student Union. “This is a movement for justice and equity in this country. Black and Brown people are united in fighting to make our schools matter, our lives matter and to have our voices heard. We are tired of handshakes and photo ops. We are tired of school closings, privatization schemes and the disinvestment in our neighborhoods. Clinton and Trump need to be held accountable—before they take the oath of office. I’m going to Hempstead because we have to make our voices heard.”

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The Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) (www.j4jalliance.org) is a national network of inter-generational, grassroots community organizations led primarily by Black and Brown people in 24 U.S. cities. With more than 40,000 active members, we assert that the lack of equity is one of the major failures of the American education system. Current U.S. education policies have led to states’ policies that lead to school privatization through school closings and charter school expansion which has energized school segregation, the school-to-prison pipeline; and has subjected children to mediocre education interventions that over the past 15 years have not resulted in sustained, improved education outcomes in urban communities.

New York State just released a draft of its revision of the Common Core standards.

There are different interpretations of how much has changed. Some say more than half of the standards were tweaked. Defenders of the standards insist they were barely changed at all.

We will have to wait until teachers have seen the revisions and offered their comments.

In New York, the Common Core standards have also became part of a larger discussion about other policy reforms, such as the use of state standardized test scores in teacher evaluations. Replacing the standards is the first step in redefining what it means to get an education in New York state, which will include revising assessments, teacher evaluations and how the state rates schools.

The standards will now go out for public comment, which will be open until Nov. 4. The Board of Regents are expected to consider the standards in early 2017 and roll out new assessments based on the standards by the 2018-19 school year.

The standards were revised in response to the success of the Opt Out movement; 20% of children eligible to take the tests–about 200,000–did not take them in 2015. The number rose slightly this past year. Governor Cuomo formed a commission that recommended a thorough review of the standards and the tests.

Here are the draft standards:

http://www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-english-language-arts

and here:

http://www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-mathematics

The crucial question will be whether the standards are age-appropriate, especially in the early grades, where complaints have been most intense. Early reviews from teachers suggest that very little if anything has changed in the K-2 grades, where the standards are the worst.

This item appeared in politico.com for New York, but it is not posted online, so no link.

Betty Rosa, chancellor of the state Board of Regents, was elected with the help of the New York state opt out leaders.

By Keshia Clukey
09/12/2016 02:39 PM EDT

State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa Monday called for New York State to be a national leader in taking a stand against the testing of English language learners and students with disabilities who are not ready to take the exams.

“I want us to take a super leadership role in our waiver,” Rosa said at the Regents meeting. The state has continued to apply for a federal testing waiver, but the request has yet to be granted.

“Not just children with disabilities, but with the English language learners, we know before they even take a test that they cannot,” Rosa said. “They don’t have [the] language proficiency to demonstrate their success story.”

Regents board member Roger Tilles agreed and said that former state Education Commissioner John King Jr. had signed on and sent the request for the federal testing waiver during his time in New York, but now as U.S. secretary of education has the power to act and has yet to act on it.

With the low proficiency rate of English language learners on the state exams, Regents board member Luis Reyes said, it could be taken up as a civil rights violation.

“Testing children who are recently arrived is child abuse, not to say bad education law or bad education policy,” he said.

Watch the teachers of Bayshore on Long Island in New York at their conference day as they create a flash mob that satirizes Common Core, stats, and Governor Cuomo!

This is a striking story about a group called Democrats for Education Reform, known as DFER. It was created in 2005 by hedge fund managers Whitney Tilson and John Petry. They held their first meeting in a plush apartment in New York City owned by another hedge fund manager, Ravenel Boykin Curry IV. Their speaker that evening was a brilliant young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. In the past 11 years, they have funneled millions of dollars into state and local elections to elect candidates who support charter schools. They endorse Republicans and Democrats alike, so long as they support charter schools.

In New York State, they have supported Republican control of the State Senate and Governor Cuomo, as well as any Democrat who is charter friendly. Now comes news that DFER has decided to spend serious money to flip control of the State Senate to Democrats this fall. This is a strategic effort to hedge their bets, in case the Democrats sweep the state in 2016. DFER can’t risk losing control of the Senate. They know the Republicans will support school choice without their money.

Chris Bragg of the Albany Times-Union has the story.

http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Breaking-from-allies-charter-group-to-back-9203320.php

Supporters of charter schools have had no stauncher ally in Albany than state Senate Republicans.
So why is a prominent national charter group saying it will spend money this year to try to flip the chamber to Democrats — many of whom were elected with the strong support of teachers unions, charters’ frequent nemeses?

“We understand the dynamic and the shift in the state Senate,” Nicole Brisbane, the New York director of Democrats for Education Reform, said in an interview last week. “We’re playing a long game.”

As the demographics of New York shift more and more toward Democrats — and Republicans continue to hang on to their Senate majority by a thread — there’s a growing sense that charter supporters need to “cultivate change in the hearts and minds” of the Democratic conference, Brisbane said.

DFER recently created an independent expenditure committee, called Moving New York Families Forward, that can raise and spend unlimited amounts. The charter backers will support pro-charter Senate Democrats in some general election races against Republicans this year, Brisbane said.

Informed of DFER’s strategy, other charter supporters reacted with skepticism and surprise.

“The expectation that State Senate Democrats will have goodwill towards education reform priorities is misplaced,” said one person heavily involved in education reform politics and policy.

“The only thing that will get accomplished is angering DFER’s true allies, Senate Republicans.”
As indicated by the group’s title, Democrats for Education Reform backs Democratic candidates across the country.

But in New York, that’s largely meant backing charter-supporting Democrats in primaries, not going after Republicans in general elections. And it doesn’t appear that any charter group has ever openly stated an intention to flip the Senate to Democratic control.

In 2010, DFER and its deep-pocketed donors — a number of whom have made hedge-fund fortunes — were heavily involved in backing challengers in New York City to three Democratic senators aligned with the teachers unions. All the charter-backing candidates lost soundly. After the election, the United Federation of Teachers issued a report calling the group “a letterhead stacked with super-rich backers.”

Now the union and DFER are putatively on the same side of the Senate
battle.

Brisbane said it was too early in the fundraising process to say how much would be spent. And she declined to say which districts the group will target in the general election, which means it’s not clear how much vulnerable Republicans would be impacted. (DFER is also set to back two New York City Assembly Democrats who are supportive of charters.)

Brisbane acknowledged that many members of the Senate Democratic conference don’t currently support her group’s stands — such as expanding the numbers of charter schools — but wants to make sure “more and more of them are championing our issues.” That list also includes increasing accountability through testing, another point of contention with the teachers union, and “Raise the Age” legislation increasing the age of criminal responsibility.
The Republican majority currently depends on the support of a Brooklyn Democrat, Simcha Felder, who conferences with them. And in a presidential election year, Democrats are likely to pick up seats in November, although they will still need to woo the five-member Independent Democratic Conference to join them to have a majority.

DFER’s new strategy “gives them protection for their agenda if the Senate goes Democratic without their help,” said Diane Ravitch, a prominent education historian and frequent critic of the charter movement. “If they get their favored candidates elected, then it doesn’t matter who controls the State Senate.”

Leadership of DFER has also shifted: Shavar Jeffries, who in 2014 lost a high-profile race for mayor of Newark, N.J., with the strong backing of charter supporters, became the group’s national president a year ago.

In recent election cycles, the New York State United Teachers union has spent millions to attain Democratic control of the Senate. NYSUT has endorsed mostly Democrats in swing districts this year. But with the fate of the Senate uncertain, NYSUT is also hedging its bets and supporting a Republican incumbent for a competitive Hudson Valley seat, while giving maximum $109,000 contributions to each side of the Senate battle.

Another pro-charter group, New Yorkers For a Balanced Albany, spent millions to help Senate Republicans in 2014 and again spent heavily to help Republican Senate candidate Chris McGrath in a May special election on Long Island; that race was narrowly won by Democrat Todd Kaminsky.

StudentsFirstNY, another New York City-based pro-charter group, runs that campaign group.
Brisbane, the New York director of DFER, insisted that some deep-pocketed donors supporting StudentsFirstNY — and Republican control of the Senate — would also give to her group backing Democratic control.
According to campaign finance records, there has been some overlap in the past between the groups’ donors.
For instance, DFER’s federal political action committee took a donation in 2015 from hedge fund magnate Daniel Loeb, who also gave $100,000 in June to the StudentsFirstNY campaign group. The executive director for StudentsFirst also gave last year to DFER.

A spokesman for StudentsFirst declined comment on DFER’s support of a Democratic Senate takeover.
Despite the fact that many Senate Republicans do not have many charter schools in their districts — the schools are concentrated in New York City — the conference has been a staunch supporter of their major financial backers. In the final hours of this year’s legislative session, for instance, the Republican-controlled Senate demanded a number of concessions for charter schools in exchange for granting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio a one-year extension of mayoral control of city schools.

An open question in this year’s Senate races is the degree to which Gov. Andrew Cuomo — a charter supporter who has received major support from DFER donors — will act to help his fellow Democrats win the Senate. Critics of Cuomo say he has given them lukewarm support in past election cycles in order to maintain his close working relationship with the Senate GOP.

Brisbane said her group’s support of Democrats should not be read as an indication of Cuomo’s own intentions.
“We are supporters of the governor and of Democrats who support this issue,” she said, “but have not coordinated with him on this push.”

The biggest obstacle to political, social, and educational reform in New York State is Senator John Flanagan from Suffolk County on Long Island. Flanagan succeeded Dean Skelos as Republican majority leader of the State Senate after Skelos was convicted on various counts. Flanagan is a major supporter of corporate reform, especially charter schools and vouchers. He is no friend of public education.

This fall he faces a challenge from a highly qualified Democrat in his district: Peter Magistrale. Peter is working closely with parent leaders on Long Island who understand the problems and needs of the public schools. He will fight for us and with us.

Please reach out and help him! His election would not only change the leadership of the State Senate, but return control to the Democratic party. Governor Cuomo has already said that he will do nothing to help Democratic candidates for the State Senate. The governor prefers to work with the Republicans. The Senate is currently divided with 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans, but five renegade Democrats caucus with the Republicans to exercise greater leverage for themselves and their districts.

Three years ago, I wrote about a heroic educator in upstate New York who wrote bluntly about the current obsession with testing, ranking all students based on their test scores. Her name is Teresa Thayer Snyder. I called her a hero educator. She was at that time the superintendent of Voorheesville, New York, a small and high-performing district. She spoke out against the rigging of test scores on the new Common Core tests, which caused scores across the state to collapse. Because of her courage and integrity, I named her to the blog’s honor roll.

Now Superintendent Snyder is leading another district, Green Island Union Free District, and she has spoken out again about the stupidity of annual standardized testing, which tells us nothing that we don’t already know.

She writes:

NY State Tests and The Three Bears

I am certain every reader remembers the story of Goldilocks breaking and entering into the cottage of The Three Bears. After wreaking havoc on their household, seeking a chair, a bed, and a bowl of porridge that was “just right” she dozed off in baby bear’s bed until she was awakened by the three bears’ return, at which time she ran off into the forest and was never seen by the bears again.

Such it is with New York State testing for children in grades 3 through 8. In the desperate attempt to find a test that is “just right” the State (and other States) has experimented for the past several years. Sadly, in the pursuit of “just right,” thousands of children have been subjected to assessments that were anything but. The results are in again, and while the powers that be are claiming gains in proficiency, analysts are suggesting that the gains are the result of lowering the bar that signifies achievement. Whatever—the point that should not be missed is that the raising or the lowering of the bar is entirely unrelated to the experience of children in the tested grades.

The test results again show that children in wealthy schools are more proficient than children in poverty; that children in regular education are more proficient than children who are differently abled; that children whose first language is the same as the test writers are more proficient than children for whom that language is a new language. These outcomes are so stable over time that one wonders why we need an expensive and extensive testing program to reveal these results. Indeed, standardized tests have been telling this story since their inception over a century ago.

What standardized tests have also been telling us for all these years is that there is very little correlation, if any, between outcomes on these tests and success in life. Recently, I was with a group of young women, all 30-something young adults. In the course of the conversation, standardized testing came up (I swear it was not I who brought it up!!). A litany of anxiety poured forth. Person after person articulated how much they hated those days of testing they had experienced in their k-12 education. One after another made statements such as “they made me feel stupid;” “I was always so disappointed as I worked so hard.” I finally said, in a firm tone, cease and desist. Sitting with me was a doctor of pharmacy, a speech pathologist, a director of human resources, a lawyer, a social worker—all women who had achieved remarkably well despite the profiling that they felt they were subjected to while taking those assessments years before. Imagine, if these successful adults felt inadequate because of those tests, imagine how youngsters who truly struggled on such assessments felt. My own daughter, a PhD who is professionally published, barely passed the New York State writing assessment that used to be on the testing menu when she was in fifth grade. She did poorly because she doesn’t like to elaborate much when she writes. Curiously, in her current field, such succinctness is valued!

A test of any sort is only a minimalist measure of what it purports to measure. I recently had a conversation with a data analyst who had beautiful color coded item analyses of the sample of recently released NYS test questions. One of the trends that was alarming to him was that the scores on “higher level questions” reduced with each grade in school. He suggested that this indicated that children were not grappling with higher level items on the test and this was a deficiency. I asked him how he could be so certain that, as children matured, they were not using higher level thinking skills. Maybe they were—evaluating their likelihood of success or even the quality of the test items, and rejecting them. Maybe, as children valued the assessment less, they were actively resisting engagement—resistance requires higher level thinking.

The significant “opt out” movement in New York—and other States– is growing as parents also value these tests less and less. What is astonishing to me is that opting out of tests is a recent phenomenon—one which deserves the attention of the powers that be. Remember, students have been subjected to tests for a good many years, and over that time, there has never been the level of resistance that we now see. Instead of denigrating the resistance or seeking to “punish” the schools where participation is down because of parental decisions, maybe it is time to listen to that resistance. Why, in a state where Regents testing has been a gold standard for years, why is there such disaffiliation with this testing mechanism in grades 3-8? Perhaps it is because the resistance recognizes the lack of value in the assessment regimen. Perhaps the outcomes matter little in the life of a child and are not worth the testing experience that their parents deem unnecessary.

I am 66 years old. I have taken so many standardized tests over the course of my life that I cannot begin to count them. I can tell you this—what I remember about school is not the results I obtained on any test I ever took—it was each and every teacher. I remember books they introduced me to, and ways of thinking that challenged me. I remember struggling with penmanship (I still do) and I remember being urged to participate in daunting speech contests, and I remember being prodded to write and to re-write—But what I most remember is the teachers and I cannot repeat that enough.

So, as we approach the beginning of the next school year, and while the State in which we work continues to search for the “just right” assessments, I urge my colleagues in the field to never lose sight of the things that matter in the classroom. It is not the test that makes a difference in a child’s life—it is you. May all of the children who cross your classroom thresholds find themselves in the company of someone who believes in them, regardless of the chair, the bed, or the bowl of porridge. A year of promise awaits!

New York State Allies for Public Education reviewed the recently released test scores and found curious anomalies. The group–which represents more than 50 other organizations–issued this statement.

http://www.nysape.org/nysape-pr-score-analysis.html

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 5, 2016

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) http://www.nysape.org
More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190
Kevin Glynn (631) 291-2905
Bianca Tanis (845) 389-0722
Email: nys.allies@gmail.com

Did NYSED Manipulate Test Scores to Boost Proficiency?

Parents Demand Explanation of Anomalies in State Test Data and the Immediate Release of Suppressed Test Information

New data reveals that the percentage of raw points necessary to achieve a proficient performance (level 3) were lower on eleven out of the twelve 2016 NYS Common Core tests.

After analyzing the raw score to scaled score conversion charts that NYSED provides, advocates are asking whether NYSED has manipulated the raw score to scale score conversion in order to increase proficiency rates this year​ as the department did in the past under former NYS Commissioner of Education, Richard Mills.

While Commissioner Elia can factually claim that the “cut scores” have not changed this year, the percentage of raw points (also called raw scores) needed to receive a scale score associated with proficient performance were lowered across the board.

[Open link above to see graph Revised Cut Score Raw Percent]

​​An analysis provided by ​Michael O’Donnell of the New Paltz Board of Education as well as the chart below form the basis for concern.

[Again, open he link above for graph Percent of Raw Points Change.jpg]

Slight, annual changes in the raw scores required to achieve a given scale score are to be expected. This is a process called “equating,” which is routinely used in the administration and scoring of all standardized tests to reflect fluctuations in test difficulty. Compared to the implementation of Common Core-based state tests in 2013, however, the 2016 conversion charts show atypically large decreases in the raw scores required to be deemed proficient, especially in math. This could indicate that the 2016 tests were significantly more difficult than previous years. However, Commissioner Elia has repeatedly stated that the content of the 2016 tests was comparable to previous years in terms of rigor.

The use of test scores for high stakes accountability decisions makes test scores vulnerable to manipulation ​in order to serve political purposes. Maintaining the same “cut scores” from year to year while artificially decreasing the number of raw points needed achieve a scale score in the proficient performance range could result in inflated passing rates.

Given NYSED’s attempt to increase passing rates through the practice of untimed assessments and the State’s failure to maintain any data on the number, demographics, and performance of students who availed themselves of additional time, the state is admittedly unable to attribute or explain any increases in scores.

Michael O’Donnell, public school parent and New Paltz Board of Education member stated, “Assessment proficiency rates, in addition to not being reflective of college readiness or grade-level skills, are now not comparable to previous years’ results and have been subject to aggressive manipulation. It is hard to find any utility in these data.”

“The State seems to be doing everything it can to convince parents that these tests and the flawed standards they are based on are educationally sound. Year after year, 60 percent of our children are labeled as failing when we know this is simply not true. Increases in test scores based on inappropriate standards are meaningless, even more so if they have been manipulated to placate the public. We demand fully funded schools, equitable learning opportunities for our children, and an end to test and punish policies,” said Johanna Garcia, NYC parent and Co-President of District 6 President’s Council.

“It is foolish to have a conversation focused on data when 22% of students have opted-out. That is a 10% increase over the 20% who opted out last year. NYSED chose to cure flawed tests with fewer questions and unlimited time. When that wasn’t enough, they lowered the requirements for proficiency in a quest to show progress. Politicians gained new talking points, but students lost meaningful classroom time and schools are targeted for punishment because of flawed tests,” said Kevin Glynn, Long Island educator and public school parent.

Eileen Graham, Rochester public school parent and founder of Black Student Leadership said, “These exams have always negatively affected students, schools, and districts. As a black parent, I’m not satisfied with Commissioner Elia’s claims that the changes as they relate to black and Hispanic students are improvements or have created a different experience for this population. It seems she is using that narrative to appease and “trick” the community into believing things got better for the most vulnerable students. This is nonsense and in my opinion, patronizing.”

“The only question is how much the level of distortion goes up each year. Since Common Core-aligned testing began in 2013, SED and test publisher Pearson have depended on keeping information about the construction and quality of the exams hidden from independent review. Given all that has gone wrong over the last four years, it’s no wonder they want to operate in the dark,” said Fred Smith, testing specialist and former administrative analyst for New York City public schools.

“NYSAPE demands the public release of all state test analysis data from 2013-2016 and urges NYSED to account for the unprecedented lowering of the raw scores aligned with proficiency. These anomalies must be explained by Commissioner Elia if the State continues to maintain that state test scores are valid and reliable.

“NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.”

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Leonie Haimsom, founder of Class Size Matters and board member of the Network for Public Education and New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), warns that the test scores released by New York are not to be trusted. She argues that “we are entering a new era of mass delusion and test score inflation- including cut score manipulation.”

She offers evidence for her assertions.

State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia released the scores and advised readers not to compare the Scores of 2016 to earlier years, then immediately made the very comparisons she cautioned against. Chancellor Farina celebrated the astonishing growth in the city’s ELA scores.

But Haimson takes a close look and concludes that state officials are manipulating the data. She reminds readers that state scores went up at a dizzying pace from 2002-2009, leading Mayor Bloomberg to boast about a New York City “miracle.” But in 2010, after an independent investigation, the state admitted that the tests had become easier, the passing mark had been lowered, and the dramatic gains had been a hoax. Once the scores were corrected, the gains of the Bloomberg-Klein era disappeared.

Something similar is happening now, write Haimson.

“There are four ways to artificially boost results on exams:

1. Make the tests shorter

2. Allow more time to take them

3. Make the questions easier

4. Change the cut scores and/or translation from raw scores to performance levels.

“It appears that the state made at least three out of the four changes listed above. We won’t know if the questions were harder or easier until the state releases the P-values and provides other technical details.”

These are serious charges. It is now the responsibility of Comissioner Elia, the Board of Regents, and the State Education Department to demonstrate the validity and integrity of the tests.