From the New York Times:
A South Bronx charter school has been put on probation for what city education officials called “serious violations” of state law mandating random admissions, including possibly testing or interviewing applicants before their enrollment.
The school, Academic Leadership Charter School, opened in 2009 and is the first New York City charter to be disciplined for violating the rules for random admissions.
The violations go to the crux of the debate over charters, which are publicly financed but independently operated. Random admissions is a key tenet in most states, but critics have long contended that the schools surreptitiously weed out students who are unlikely to do well on standardized tests or are more difficult to educate.
The Times story also points out that a charter school in Albany was caught doing the same thing, but incredibly had their charter reapproved. The story is just another example of how perilous such devotion to test scores are. They’re easily to manipulate and done so to ensure profit.
The school reform movement must have test scores, as they are it’s fueling currency. School and teachers only require students. Unlike the two New York charter schools, any and all students. Arne Duncan - who badly needs revelations about cheating to stop – defended high stakes tests in a Washington Post op-ed piece.
To deny the importance of regular, comprehensive measurement of student growth and academic progress because of cheating is to embrace that twisted ethos, sending exactly the wrong message to students.
Competing in a global economy is the ultimate high-stakes test for American students, and there are no shortcuts to success. Closing our eyes to the knowledge requirements of a 21st century economy will not make them go away.
At the same time, it is important to remember that measuring student growth is a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Poorly designed tests do not advance the goal of providing every American child a high-quality, well-rounded education. They also don’t tell you very much about the effectiveness of teachers. That’s why the Department of Education has put $350 million toward developing a new generation of assessments, and why we support evaluations based on multiple measures—including principal observation, peer review, classroom work, student and parent feedback, and other locally developed measures.
So much spin in one op-ed.
Make no mistake. Cherrypicking students is cheating. But I’m sure that taxpayers have been reassured by $350 million of their money going to one of Duncan’s corporate ed cronies toward “developing a new generation of assessments.” The US Secretary of Education’s attempt at redirecting to other teacher evaluation techniques doesn’t hold water when 50% of teacher evaluations come from standardized test scores. The Average Yearly Progress (AYP) number is similarly weighed and is what school leaders are foced to agonize over. Duncan badly needs taxpayers to buy into his excuses and platitudes.