Tuesday, January 22

New science test a no-go for this year

The DOE makes a lot of noise when it rolls out a new initiative — but it does a good job of staying quiet when it scales them back. The Post reported this past weekend that the science test planned for grades 3 and 6 will not be offered this year after all, at least not for the vast majority of middle and high schools. And science proficiency won't be a consideration in promotion decisions as the DOE last year suggested it would be. According to the Post, the DOE now plans to start testing all students in science next year.

What's the reason for the delay? Apparently, the DOE found it didn't have time to train teachers adequately in the new citywide science curriculum; the Post has quotes from a couple of anonymous teachers who report having "boxes of junk" in their classrooms but no idea how to use their contents. The DOE also says it needs further field testing to devise a fair test.

Inadequate training for teachers and a flawed test sound like good arguments for slowing down implementation of the science test schedule. I'm just surprised that the DOE listened to those arguments after rolling out initiatives far more half-baked than this one. And for those who saw the science test as a sign that the DOE would no longer tolerate schools spending all of their instructional time working on skills tested on the math and English state tests, the delay is certainly disappointing. Let's hope that schools haven't been trained too well on teaching only to tests and still make use of the new science curriculum.

1 comment:

Andy Jacob said...

Just to be clear - and the Post noted this in their article - our original goal was to roll out the science curriculum and the accompanying tests to grades 3-8 by the 2008-09 school year. We're still on track to do that.