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An Unchanged NYC Achievement Gap Hits the Papers (Plus, Joel Klein’s Postmodernist Turn!)

By Eduwonkette — August 05, 2008 2 min read

With her article
on New York City’s lack of progress in closing the achievement gap, Elizabeth Green demonstrates once again that’s she the sharpest and most inquisitive education reporter in New York City. I’m pretty sure she’s the second coming of Josh Benton, formerly of the Dallas Morning News, who wowed us all with his analyses of original data.

Bottom line: Three NYC professors – Bob Tobias (NYU prof who ran the NYC testing department for 13 years), Howard Everson (Fordham prof and advisor to New York State Ed.), and Aaron Pallas (TC prof) – all agree that there’s not much action on the achievement gap in New York City.

The most priceless parts of the article involve Onion-worthy quotes from newly minted postmodernist Joel Klein. Apparently, the achievement gap is really just a matter of opinion!

Silly me – I thought New York City was data-driven. Never mind.

Note to self: burn my stats books and sprinkle their ashes over Tweed, deinstall Stata, and buy Foucault, Derrida, and Baudrillard. I’m tired of those damn social scientists getting in my way. Science is dead! Let’s nuke positivism! Readers, are you up for it?

Here are some delicious snippets and my commentary in italics:

1) “In an interview at Tweed Courthouse, the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, said the achievement gap is ‘an issue,’ but he said it should not obscure the significant gains black and Hispanic students have made under his watch.” [Hey, wait! What about that “Educational Equality Project” that was founded specifically around closing the achievement gap? Now it’s not important? Huh? And PS - your own “Chief Equality Officer” Roland Fryer has written two important articles about the achievement gap focused on gaps in scale scores, not proficiency!]

2) “Mr. Klein criticized the National Center on Education Statistics analysis. ‘Those are just confidence levels. Nobody is saying this is a science,’ Mr. Klein said. He added: ‘If three points is flat, and four points is statistically significant, then what you’re doing is, you’re playing something of a game.’” [A piece of free advice for the Tweed PR Department: You guys need to get someone else out front when there are numbers involved. Your fearless leader’s statistical prowess is quickly becoming the best evidence of high variance in male math achievement, such that men are overrepresented at the bottom of the distribution.]

The Department of Education’s shameless attempt at big lie propaganda can be found here, as can the New York Sun’s experts’ analysis of the data.

Update: Kelly Vaughan at Gotham Schools is all over this, too.

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