The Mayor commits educational malpractice, once again
Susan Notes: Where is the teacher objection to this outrage? Where are the professional organizations? Once again, we can be grateful to the NYC Public School Parent blog.
In fact, the consensus among experts is overwhelmingly negative -- that grade retention hurts rather than helps students and leads to higher dropout rates. When the City Council held hearings the first time the Mayor proposed this policy, they could not find a single education researcher who supported it.
Yet the mayor and Klein manage to inhabit their own universe of spin; reminiscent to the manner in which Karl Rove described the Bush administration:
See the 2004 letter, signed by over 100 academics, heads of organizations, and experts on testing from throughout the nation, in opposition to the mayor's policy, when he first proposed 3rd grade retention, explaining:
"All of the major educational research and testing organizations oppose using test results as the sole criterion for advancement or retention, since judging a particular student on the basis of a single exam is an inherently unreliable and an unfair measure of his or her actual level of achievement. ...Harcourt and CTB McGraw Hill, the two largest companies that produce standardized tests...are on record opposing the use of their tests as the exclusive criterion for decisions about retention, because they can never be a reliable and/or complete measure of what students may or may not know."
Among the letter's signers were Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, renowned pediatrician and author of numerous works on child care and development, Robert Tobias, former head of Division of Assessment and Accountability for the Board of Education and now Director of the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at NYU, and Dr. Ernest House, who did the independent evaluation of New York CityĂ˘€™s failed "Gates" retention program in the 1980's.
Other signers included four past presidents of the American Education Research Association, the nation's premier organization of educational researchers, as well as three members and the study director of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Appropriate Use of Educational Testing, and two members of the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council.
According to Dr. Shane Jimerson, professor of Child and Adolescent Development at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of over twenty publications on the subject of retention,
The second time the DOE pushed through this policy, for 5th grade retention, Klein agreed to commission an independent research study of the results. RAND has been analyzing the data since 2005 and has produced several interim reports which the public has not been allowed to see, as reported in a chapter in our book, NYC Schools Under Bloomberg and Klein: What Parents, Teachers and Policymakers Need to Know, by Patrick Sullivan, member of the Panel for Educational Policy:
Now, as Patrick points out in Gotham Schools,
According to the DOE spokesperson, "Preliminary results of the RAND study, which looks at the performance of third and fifth graders affected by the MayorĂ˘€™s promotion policy over time and will include data from the 2008-2009 school year, were delivered to the Department of Education last year...."
If Bloomberg and Klein were really so convinced that their retention policies have been successful, they should be obligated to release the RAND findings before the vote of the Panel to approve their extension to even more children.
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