I must add an important footnote about my last blog (The Power Struggle in New York City). I mentioned how hard it is to find achievement data on the New York State Education Department website. I must explain how I found the data and give credit where it is due.
I spent hours—literally hours—going to every part of the website associated with assessments and accountability, with English language arts and mathematics, with K-12 education, and I could not find the achievement data. In my utter frustration, I began emailing people that I thought should know. No one could help me. Then I sent an email to Elizabeth Carson, who for years has selflessly run a group called NYC-HOLD (which advocates for math reform) and received a prompt reply.
Elizabeth explained that I had to find the archived press releases and told me how to navigate the site to find them. There I was able to discover that the Commissioner of Education had held press conferences at which he presented Power Point explanations of the scores. The presentations contained everything I was looking for. Most important for me was the longitudinal data, which showed that NYC had experienced a big test-score increase in 2003. I called administrators, who told me that the state tests are given in January and March. Chancellor Klein announced his reform package in January 2003 (on Martin Luther King Jr. day), at the very time that the first batch of tests were being taken by students. It was obvious that he could not justly claim credit for the jump in scores on tests that were given at the very time he was announcing what he planned to do the following September!
Anyway, I do want to thank Elizabeth Carson, who is a tireless, unpaid worker in the vineyard of education reform, without whom I may never have discovered the crucial data that I needed.
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