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Volume V, Number 4, April, 2007

Faking Reform

By Jamie McKenzie

According to a new study, test score fakery is getting worse! States that were gaming the system a few years ago and creating fraudulent improvements in student results have improved their skills and actually widened the gap between results on their own tests and comparable result on the national tests.

It is a scandal that receives little attention in the mainstream press.

For several years now we have seen a shameful gap between the claims of progress made by some states on their own tests when compared with actual results on a national test that requires real skill and thinking, NAEP (The National Assessment of Educational Progress). This journal published a detailed analysis of this fakery in January, 2005 in "The Performance Gap."

Now, Education Week reports a growing problem
April 10, 2007
"Skills Gap on State, Federal Tests Grows, Study Finds"
By Lynn Olson

The study by Policy Analysis for California Education, a nonprofit research group based at the University of California, Berkeley, was released here during the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The researchers compiled state and federal testing results for the period 1992 to 2006 from 12 states: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington.

In all but two states—Arkansas and Massachusetts—the disparity between the share of students proficient on state reading tests and on NAEP, a congressionally mandated program that tests a representative sample of students in every state, grew or remained the same from 2002 to 2006. A similar widening occurred between state and federal gauges of math performance in eight of 12 states.

It is tempting to compare NCLB/Helter-Skelter with Frankenstein's monster. Folks who know little about education, schools or school improvement have created a beastly program that has spun out of control, wrecking havoc on schools and children in ways that make Katrina look like a mild thunder squall. Eager to create the appearance of improvement, school leaders, state leaders and federal officials have distorted schooling in ways that violate almost any sound educational philosophy or practice. In teaching to dumb tests day after day they have robbed a generation of children of their educational birthright.

© 2007, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved. Articles may be e-mailed to individuals by individuals, but all other duplication, distribution, publication and use is prohibited without first receiving explicit permission. Contact for information.