On April 14, 2014, sociologist Aaron M. Pallas posted an illuminating report on the lack of transparency at the New York State Education Department (NYSED) with regards to its controversial standardized testing program. It’s posted on his blog A Sociological Eye on Education. I was struck by Pallas’ mention of the missing technical reports of the 2013 NYS Common Core assessments that Pearson was contracted to deliver to the NYSED in December 2013. At present, the reports have yet to appear on the NYSED website. Did Pearson fail to deliver the reports, which is costing the state $75,000, or is the NYSED sitting on them the same way it sat on the 2012 technical reports, which weren’t made public until July 2013? Click here to read the 2012 English-language Arts technical report and here to view the 2012 Mathematics technical report.
In his latest blog post, Pallas writes:
“New York sent teachers’ Mean Growth Percentile scores to its 700 school districts in August 2013, which enabled teachers to receive their overall evaluation scores and categories by September 1, 2013. But no one—neither teachers, parents, journalists nor researchers—has had access to the information necessary to evaluate either the quality of the tests or the quality of the Mean Growth Percentiles. That’s because the technical reports that tell us about last year’s state assessments have yet to be released to the public.
Let that sink in for a moment.”
Fred Smith, NYS testing expert and statistician, has long been sounding the alarm on the NYSED’s lack of transparency. He is also an active member of Change the Stakes and has launched a campaign to Say “NO!” to Pearson stand-alone field tests, which are to be administered throughout New York State in June 2014. Smith sent me the following note:
“Aaron Pallas gives a powerfully succinct explanation about why the lack of transparency here is intellectually dishonest and beyond objectionable from a scientific perspective.
In simple terms, the failure to produce or make the report available in a timely fashion has been calculated to give SED and Pearson after-the-fact wiggle room to shade its presentation in order to make poorly designed and constructed tests appear less glaringly bad. Even worse, absent the report, researchers and analysts cannot examine the quality of the test instruments.
The entire performance here is another example of SED and Pearson acting in cahoots — with SED running interference for Pearson in order to make the Common Core a fait accompli. Together they have spared no effort to preserve, protect and defend a “sloppy roll-out.”
Parents and educators in New York must continue to put pressure on the NYSED to release the 2013 technical reports. Use #PearsonTechReports and #BoycottPearson on Twitter. Please also read and share Fred Smith’s fact sheet on opting-out of Pearson field testing this June.