In an op-ed piece in the Daily News, Diane Ravitch — an educational historian at New York University and a member of the national educational testing assessment board from 1997 to 2004 — told a different story.
Ravitch, who was deeply involved in writing the No Child Left Behind law, wrote that she realized in 2004 that the reliance on high-stakes testing was bad for education, and became an opponent of the law and the testing that was its most important component.
“Did the students suddenly become stupid?” Ravitch asked, referring to this year’s test results. “Did their teachers become suddenly incompetent overnight? Did schools fail en masse? None of the above. The state Board of Regents, having decided that the old tests were too easy, changed the tests and raised the passing mark.”
She added, “The scores should not be taken seriously. There is no science involved in setting the passing mark. It is a judgment call. It is subjective. State Education Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Tisch could have set a passing mark wherever they chose. They chose to set the bar so high that most students would fail. This is like raising the hoop higher in a basketball game or pushing the wall further back in a baseball game to make it harder to score.”