Deborah, You mentioned the new grading system. Our readers may not be aware of what is happening, so let me recapitulate the system as best I can. "Best I can," to be sure, because it is not a transparent system and its calculations are extremely obscure. At bottom, it amounts to this: Each school in the city school district (but not charters) is given a letter grade from A through F. The letter grade is based mainly on the state's standardized test scores. The grade is comprised of both performance (the school's scores) and progress (the school's value-added). Added in ...


Dear Diane, We've been e-mailing back and forth during this past week—so you already know how shocked I was, even though I might have imagined I was above and beyond shockable. Some months ago I wrote about my own fears—about potential retaliation against the schools I was most identified with—that might follow my outspoken critiques of their bosses. I am not paranoid enough—perhaps unwisely—to presume that all the bad "luck" that has befallen my beloved NYC schools is due to deliberate sabotage. But it doesn't keep me from worrying when the other shoe will ...


Dear Deb, What a week this has been! I received a phone call late last Monday afternoon (Oct. 29) from an editor at the New York Post, offering me a “heads up.” He said, “Just wanted to let you know that there will be a personal attack on you in tomorrow’s paper, on the opinion page.” That was a bit unsettling, to say the least. A few hours later, I received an email from a journalist friend that contained the actual article, with the byline of Kathryn Wylde, the CEO of the New York City Partnership, the organization that ...


Dear Diane, You're right! There is data and then there are various ways to interpret it. The NAEP data is data. But given that the average reader—such as me—doesn't know a lot about how the scores were derived, making sense of it requires interpretation. For example: (1) what kind of questions are on the tests? (2) how great are the differences in right/wrong answers that separate the benchmarks? and above all (3) how valid are the categories proficient, advanced? Some of this requires statistical sophistication, some just more information than is readily available. Most of the time...


Dear Deb, There are times when I feel that we are on the same wavelength, and times when I know we are not. Right now, my frustration is multiplied because in the course of your last mini-essay, I found myself alternately agreeing and disagreeing with your assertions. I said that many people who have spoken out about the recent round of NAEP scores seem not to have read the report in which the scores were embedded. I expressed the wish that the commentators would take the trouble to read the report before characterizing what they read in the newspapers, which ...


The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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