Ron Isaac’s: Tests as Fig Leafs?

Apr 28, 2021 by

The State Education Department leads by example.  Last week it was the virtue of recycling.  They feel it works for them.  After all, test questions are not toilet paper.

In a deliberate act that played into the hands of diehard critics of the education establishment, the SED’s recent English exam for grades 3-8 included many questions that were borrowed verbatim from a previous test.  To add fresh insult to the festering injury of reputation, those identical questions were featured on the SED’s own widely-trafficked and easily-accessed test-preparation website.

By distancing themselves from the concept that tests need to have a purpose in order to be valid, have they made a bold assertion that may revolutionize the way we assess student learning?   Do such exams serve as fig-leafs and if so,, who or what is being covered and why?

According to the New York Post, the SED told them that the students’ scores would nonetheless be “valid”, and blamed the pandemic for their “inability to field test questions”. Concocting an excuse like that simply makes the SED look worse.  It’s no more a legitimate justification than it would be if used by teachers to elude responsibility for finding a path for meaningful instruction even during these shared circumstances of challenge.

The New York Post has its own predictable explanation that reflects their inevitable biases. They attribute it to “sabotage” by teachers unions, via Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, calculated to convey the lie, due to their miraculous teaching,  there has been no learning loss during this year’s upheaval. The Post has not yet accused the teachers union of unleashing Covid, but they practically imply that they are seeking to benefit from disruption.

They conclude that the “people in charge of education…don’t give a damn about the kids…Their top priority is to keep you in the dark…”   As they see it. the “people in charge of education” are the teachers union.  That’s always been their mantra and drumbeat. The SED has a mixed record over the years, but on balance they have shown dedication to educational improvement and, unlike the Post’s editorial board, they are capable of self-correction.

Not so the Post. As teacher union-busters, they are perched at the top of the landfill.
Ron Isaac

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