"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, August 14, 2005

McGraw-Hill Scores Again

When I was beginning a research study in Louisiana that is now in its fifth year, the Bayou State had the dubious distinction as the only state in the Union to use a single test to make promotion decisions in elementary school. Now that number is 10, and it includes the New York, specifically, New York City, the national bastion of liberalism and multiculturism that somehow manages to elect only Republican mayors. Begun two years ago for third graders after the Mayor rammed the program through by replacing dissident Board members with his own rubber stamps, the program has proved so politically popular that now it will be extended into the 5th and 7th grades.

Presently, 10,000 or so 3rd graders are labeled failures each spring in New York City, but about half of those who respond to the City's "invitation" to attend testing boot camp during the subsequent summer, end up passing on to 4th grade. It is a much kinder and gentler way to remind poor children that they are failures in more ways than they ever thought--and a way, too, to make it appear that the Mayor actually has a plan to improve the public schools of the City. The populace seems to have bought in, so much so that that their 5th and 7th graders will now now get an equal chance to demonstrate their failure, too.

In the meantime, McGraw-Hill has penned a five-year contract with the State, funded with $17 million from the US DOE, to fix all the scoring problems that McGraw-Hill created during the last five years. For a little history on New York's testing and scoring problems and its incestuous relationship with M-H, click here for Superintendent Bill Cala's summary of New York's efforts to scale the testing heights (what a great pun). The NY Times reported yesterday that
"the Office of State Assessment has hired six new staff members and signed a five-year contract with McGraw-Hill. Federal aid has helped pay for all the changes. New York received $17 million under No Child Left Behind to revamp its program."

For those readers wondering if Charlotte Frank, McGraw-Hill's Vice President, is still on the NY Board of Regents--no, she is not. She, like Reid Lyon, has moved on to greener pastures, if you know what I mean. She now is a prominent board member on, yet, another corporatizing school effort called, of all things, Teachers Network. Sponsored primarily by McGraw-Hill while using the motto, "For teachers, By teachers," this company site promotes corporate solutions to the problems created by corporate tests. This corporate lure should not be mistaken for Teachers.Net, which is an top-notch outfit run by teachers that offers free materials, discussion groups, etc.

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