testing testing

Test scores down sharply; biggest decline for needy students

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Source: New York State Education Department

The day of reckoning has arrived.

After weeks of warning that adjusted standards would mean far fewer students passing state exams this year, state education officials released the exact numbers today.

Average raw scores on the state third through eighth grade math and reading exams remained flat. But because the state decided to raise the scores required for a student to be deemed proficient, the number of students passing fell sharply.

In New York City and other big cities, the number of students passing reading exams dropped by more than a quarter — from 68.8 percent of city students passing last year to 42.4 percent this year in reading, for example.

Just over 53 percent of third through eighth-grade students statewide passed the reading exam, compared to 77 percent last year. Around 61 percent of students passed their math exams, compared with more than 86 percent last year.

Pass rates of students learning English, students with disabilities, and poor students fell the farthest. The percentage of students learning English who passed the reading exam fell by more than half, from 36 percent to under 15 percent. Just 15 percent of students with disabilities passed the reading exam, compared to 39 percent last year.

Right now, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Education Commissioner David Steiner are presenting the exam results in Albany. We’ll have more updates from the state and city presentations throughout the day.

But for now, the state’s slideshow presentation is below. An analysis of this year’s test results begins on slide 13.

Betsy DeVos

‘Underperformer,’ ‘bully,’ and a ‘mermaid with legs’: NYMag story slams Betsy DeVos

PHOTO: New York Magazine
A drawing of DeVos commissioned by an 8-year-old starts the New York Magazine article.

A new article detailing Betsy DeVos’s first six months as U.S. education secretary concludes that she’s “a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”

That’s just one of several brutal critiques of DeVos’s leadership and effectiveness in the New York Magazine story, by Lisa Miller, who has previously covered efforts to overhaul high schools, New York City’s pre-kindergarten push, and the apocalypse. Here are some highlights:

  • Bipartisan befuddlement: The story summarizes the left’s well known opposition to DeVos’s school choice agenda. But her political allies also say she’s making unnecessary mistakes: “Most mystifying to those invested in her success is why DeVos hasn’t found herself some better help.”
  • A friend’s defense: DeVos is “muzzled” by the Trump administration, said her friend and frequent defender Kevin Chavous, a school choice activist.
  • The department reacts: “More often than not press statements are being written by career staff,” a spokesperson told Miller, rejecting claims that politics are trumping policy concerns.
  • D.C. colleagues speak: “When you talk to her, it’s a blank stare,” said Charles Doolittle, who quit the Department of Education in June. A current education department employee says: “It’s not clear that the secretary is making decisions or really capable of understanding the elements of a good decision.”
  • Kids critique: The magazine commissioned six portraits of DeVos drawn by grade-schoolers.
  • Special Olympics flip-flop: DeVos started out saying she was proud to partner with the athletics competition for people with disabilities — and quickly turned to defending a budget that cuts the program’s funding.
  • In conclusion: DeVos is an underperformer,” a “bully” and “ineffective,” Miller found based on her reporting.

We’ve reached out for reaction from DeVos’s team and will update when we hear back.

home sweet home

‘Finally! Something useful’ or a dangerous mistake? Detroiters respond to city’s housing deal for teachers

PHOTO: Detroit Land Bank Authority
This home on Harvard Road was up for auction the week after Detroit announced a half-off-on-city-owned housing deal for teachers.

Friday’s announcement that all Detroit school employees — whether they work for district, charter, or parochial schools — will get a 50 percent discount on houses auctioned through the Detroit Land Bank Authority stirred a lot of discussion.

Some of our commenters on Facebook had high hopes for the deal:

But one commenter wondered if it’s the city of Detroit that’s actually getting the best deal, not the employees — or other people seeking to buy homes in the city:

And others argued that people who already live in Detroit won’t benefit from this deal:

Still, some readers appear to be ready to move — and have even picked homes to bid on (though not necessarily from the Land Bank Authority)!