New York Times Editorial--AGHHHHHHHH!
Ohanian Comment: The Editorialist gets one thing right: The Standards are at the root of what's happening. Of course, being Standardististos they see no evil, hear no evil; they walk hand-in-hand with evil.
It is shameful that The New York Times would resort to the phony figure of 90% graduation rate on the Regents. Didn't anybody from the good grey lady attend Walt Haney's recent testimony?
Don't the people writing editorials at The New York Times read Michael Winerips columns, testifying to the human misery caused by the so-called high standards?
The federal No Child Left Behind Act was modeled partly on reforms developed in New York, which jumped to the forefront of the standards movement during the 1990's with a sweeping plan that raised graduation requirements, improved teacher training and instituted annual tests to determine whether students were being taught according to the new standards. The New York experience has been encouraging. But recent glitches in the tests also show that programs setting standards need to be retooled periodically as they go forward.
Doomsayers predicted mass failure when the State Board of Regents decided in 1996 to do away with a high school diploma that relied on soft courses and a weak state examination and to phase in a requirement that all students hoping to graduate take the Regents exams. These fears proved baseless for the class of 2002, when more than 90 percent of the students passed the Regents exams with the required score of 55 or more.
A plan to raise the passing score to 65 for some exams this year has been put on hold while the Regents figure out how to prepare students better in the poorest parts of the state for the stiffer requirement. Another problem was highlighted this summer, when 63 percent of students statewide — including thousands of seniors — failed the math test. The Regents appointed a special investigatory panel, whose report has just come out. The report recommended a new, better-calibrated math test, but uncovered several other problems as well.
The panel said New York's math standards needed to be clarified so teachers could be certain of what students needed to know. The report also returned to a familiar but thorny subject, noting that many math teachers needed specific kinds of training to help students meet math standards that are widely seen as the most rigorous in the nation.
Evidence shows that success on rigorous tests can be increased when states provide teachers who show students the way. The Board of Regents should accept the panel's recommendations, fix the problems and return to the task of raising standards in accordance with the original plan.
New York Times
Retool, but Hold Firm to Standards