Three op-eds nationwide this weekend used the recent report from the Commercial Club to skewer Arne Duncan’s visions of turning around the nation’s schools.
All three of the pieces note that in 2006, when CPS changed its tests to make them more closely match No Child Left Behind’s requirements, the district made the tests easier to pass. Big surprise, then, that there were big jumps in the numbers of fourth- and eighth-graders who met or exceeded standards in math and writing.
The Wall Street Journal puts Duncan at the center of a column about the inherent problems with relying on standardized test scores. In vouching for an increase in charter schools nationwide, the WSJ notes,
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley deserves credit for hiring Mr. Duncan, a charter proponent. But in deference to teachers unions that oppose school choice, Mr. Daley stayed mostly silent during the debate over the charter cap. That's regrettable, because it's becoming clear that Chicago's claim of reform success among noncharter schools is phony.
The Washington Examiner took a harsher tone, blaming both Duncan and President Obama for using the hollow test scores to justify Duncan’s track record:
In 2008, only eight of 99 Chicago high schools met the standards set by No Child Left Behind, and all eight were selective enrollment schools. Only 6 percent of entering Chicago public school freshmen will obtain college degrees by age 25.
Chicago produces such abysmal results despite spending 20 percent more per pupil than the national average.
Finally, a local examiner.com columnist (the site is a spin-off of the same company that owns the Washington Examiner) underscores the point that all of the legitimate test scores show blacks trailing whites by a larger margin in Chicago than in the rest of the nation as a whole:
Black students (outside of Chicago) not exposed to the wonderfulness of Arne Duncan’s education strategies, methods, and magic are doing better than those that are. Yet this guy is telling everybody else what to do? Will the madness ever end?