Just Make Every Student A Former ESL Student And You'll Magically Raise Your Test Scores!
More than 100 teens in one teacher’s English classes were recently marked “FELL,” for “former English language learner.” The label grants students exam “accommodations” up to two years after they test proficient on the New York state English as a Second Language Achievement Test. But many students given extra time on the Regents exams are native English speakers, staffers said.Old-timers are not surprised. I worked for the mother of test manipulators who from the day she took over my school in -- check this year -- 1978 -- she found every wrinkle possible in test manipulation. I once said this to Joel Klein at a PEP - that I know all the games because I was taught by a master - the mother of test manipulation, as I dubbed my principal.
Here are a few of her tactics:
1. Identify poor readers in kindergarten and 1st grade and leave them back a grade early. This makes them a year older for the rest of their time in the school and an 11 year old 4th grader - even a poor reader - will do better on the test than a 10 year old poor reader.
2. Make sure there are as few non-English speaking kids in the school as possible. In fact make sure there are none. How to do this? Refuse to have a bi-lingual class and every parent off the boat who comes to register their child is sent to the school on the other side of the projects (now run by the great Brian De Vale). Those kids will drag down the scores pretty much for their entire time in whatever school they are in. Result: our school rose to 2nd in the district in test scores and the other school was at the bottom - year after year.
3. Push every kid into special ed as possible -- pressure teachers to do so - because in those years their tests didn't count against the school.
4. And of course one of my faves. Dump kids from the test where possible. I have 2 personal examples.
a. A few days before the exam I am informed that Matt, a difficult child from a problem family of difficult children - but funny and I had become pals with him --- would not be taking the exam with my class. Why? He had a slight speech impediment and due to his going out a few times a week for speech therapy, he would be classified special ed for this exam and separated out so his test wouldn't count. I was so livid I called the NY Times and spoke to an ed reporter who told me, "Isn't this the way things are done?"
b. Bill was a silent, brooding-looking child who at first scared me but soon I saw he was a bit shy and by the time we were testing I loved having him in my class. His apartment had a fire and he went to live with his grandmother a few miles away in another school district. His mother said they would be back in the apartment in a month or 2. So he kept coming to school -- not as often due to traveling -- and I even picked him up and dropped him off a few times. No problems - until test time. A week before I get a transfer notice from the office sending him to the school near his grandmother's. I called the mother and she said she had nothing to do with it. I knew exactly what had happened and confronted my principal. She said "too bad," - at first. I had to convince her that not only was Bill a good kid but I guaranteed he would score well -- I rate this with Messier's prediction on the Rangers in '94. She relented and Bill did score well and graduated with his class in my school -- and by the way was back in his apartment not long after the test.
RBE closes with:
If Namita Dwarka survives all the scandals and investigations she's under by the SCI and the DOE, then you know that de Blasio's and Farina's claims about a new kind of DOE, one that is different than the Bloomberg DOE, is a lie.Well on this one issue I would put some money that there are a hell of a lot of principals who play similar games.