One highlight of the mayoral control panel put together by the parent commission Friday night was testimony by Robert Tobias, the former city testing czar and now New York University professor. Tobias has often been quoted expressing concerns that the Bloomberg administration inflates its record of educational improvement.
But the analysis Tobias presented Friday, explaining exactly what progress he thinks happened (“real” improvements in math) and what he thinks did not (any narrowing of a longstanding gap between the state and city students’ scores on reading tests), was the most succinct summary I’ve ever heard him deliver — not to mention a striking counterpoint to the sanguine evaluations of Chancellor Joel Klein, Mayor Bloomberg, and even Caroline Kennedy.
Here’s what Tobias said:
Tobias also tempered the fact of the improvements in math scores with a warning about score inflation, the phenomenon by which test-prepping, in his words, can “undermine” the meaningfulness of the test as an indicator of what students know, versus how well they have been prepped. (Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Daniel Koretz has written the most on score inflation that I know of. For more on the topic, see this story I wrote for the Sun and these posts by Eduwonkette.)