Friday, August 9, 2013

New York City school children performed very badly on recent standardized tests

In this case a standardized test is a test used to measure how well a student has been doing in school.  It is 'standardized' because every student (in a grade) takes the same test - it is the same standard (measurement) for each student.

When Michael Bloomberg ran for mayor (leader) of New York City 4 years ago, he ran many television commercials claiming that his policies had improved the New York City school system.  (Yes, you can 'run' for political office and you can 'run' television commercials - show television commercials.)

Unfortunately, it turns out that under his leadership students in New York City were not being accurately tested.  The tests that students in New York City were being given were much easier than tests students in other parts of the country were taking.

Now that students are being given more challenging tests, we can see that the policies of Michael Bloomberg have harmed the education of a majority of New York children.  As this article points out, most New York City school children are not at the grade level they should be at.  Indeed, the statistics are shocking.  After 12 years as mayor we can see that Michael Bloomberg was more interested in covering up (hiding) the poor performance of children in schools than in helping the children of this city.

Basically, there is a great deal of poverty in this city.  Many children come from broken homes and do not have parents who can find ways to motivate them to perform well in school.  I think the poor scores are more a reflection of the social and economic problems in New York City than the educational problems, although there are huge problems with the school system as well.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand this article:

a plunge - a drop; if you are at a swimming pool you might take a plunge from a diving board into the water.

a dramatic plunge - a severe or large drop

proficiency - if you are proficient at something, you can do it well.  So only 33% of New York City school children were able to pass this type of test. The year before, with the easier tests, 66% of the children passed.

more closely aligned to academic standards - basically they are more closely related to the type of test that would accurately measure a student's performance.  To align something is to put it in a line with other things.

but critics say children weren't properly prepared to the roll out - I don't understand this part either.  I think it might be a mistake.  Perhaps it should have been: but critics say the children weren't properly prepared for the new exam.  You can be prepared 'for' something or you can be prepared 'to' do something.

struck out - a baseball term. If you strike out, you fail.

tougher - harder.

posting a drop - showing a drop

a high-stakes test - high-stakes is a gambling term.  If you are gambling for high-stakes, you are gambling for a lot of money.  A high stakes test is a very important test - as if you are gambling for a lot of money.

dire - terrible

predicted - many education experts knew the previous tests were too easy and they expected that the current scores would be shockingly low.

minority groups - blacks and Latinos

even more drastic - even more shocking, even more bad

how it breaks down - how the statistics can be understood

charter schools - these are privately run schools that are funded by government money.

the race factor - this shows the performance of students based on their race.  Asian students seemed to do better than students from other racial groups.

take a giant hit - for scores to take a giant hit, this means that they would show some type of damage - they would drop.

to roll out a curriculum - to provide a curriculum (a course of study) that would be challenging enough to help students prepare for the exams.  So it looks as if the curriculum in New York City schools is not very good.

he struck a more optimistic note - he adopted a more optimistic or happy attitude

to be paralyzed - to be unable to move or take action

dismal - terrible, dark, gloomy

to boycott something - to refuse to do something

close schools, fire teachers etc. - the real scores from this real test will eb used to determine whether some schools should even stay open and whether some teachers should be allowed to continue teaching.

to promote or hold back students - to promote a student means to let the student move to the next grade level.  To hold a student back means to refuse to allow a student to move to a higher grade level.

touted the bleak outcomes - praised the bad results of the tests.  He said this will lead to improvements in the future.

closing the gap - a gap is a hole or a distance between things.

Hizzoner - a 'cute' name for the office of mayor.  Hizzoner means: His Honor...

conceded - admitted

panicked - if you panic you feel an extreme sense of fear and anxiety

atrocious - terrible

mishandling - poor or bad way of dealing with or handling a situation

blasted the results - criticized them harshly

averted - avoided

an advocate - someone who speaks out for or represents certain people

a reform - a change

vulnerable - if a person is vulnerable, he/she is at risk of being harmed

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