2006-02-10 / Editorial/Opinion

Fooling Some Of The People All Of The Time

If you believe that the mayor’s control of the school system is a big success, that more students are passing standardized tests and being promoted to the next grade on merit, think again. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you can fool some of the people all of the time. Witness the fact that the State Board of Regents (including local Geraldine Chapey) lowered the standards for passing the Math A Regents for the third straight year. In order to pass that high-stakes test, students must now answer only 23 of the 84 questions correctly. Most of you will now do the math for yourselves to find out that students now pass the test if they achieve the startling score of 27 percent. Did you every pass a test with a score of 27 percent when you were in school? I would bet that the answer to that question is a resounding “No.” A spokesperson for the Department of Education (DOE) told reporters that lowering the passing score just reflects the difficulty of the test. “The Math A test is hard,” the DOE spokesperson said. He said that in order to make the test “more fair,” the number of correct answers required to get a passing grade of 55 has been reduced from 43 to 28. He said that scores are not based only on the number of correct answers, but on “student attitudes and personality traits.” If you want to know how a math test score can be based on attitudes and personality traits, so do we. Add the drop in the passing standard to the fact that so much time is spent prepping for the tests that students rarely learn any content material any longer and you get a school system that is barely functional. The mayor, the chancellor and their school minions at the regions keep saying how wonderful things are on the education scene. What you are getting from them is lots of Abe Lincoln, lots of smoke and mirrors and a drop in what we once called “education.”

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