Mayor Bloomberg has consistently announced the success of his educational initiatives in the last four years. In fact, his claim for an unprecedented third term is based in part on the strides made by city students on reading and math tests. Chancellor Joel Klein has been praised and virtually beatified for his role in “turning around” the educational system. At one meeting after another the mayor has noted that the control he exercises over the city school system has paid dividends.
However, a recent report challenges the credibility of the mayor’s well-advertised claims. Despite an explosion in educational spending and a capitulation to the demands of the teachers’ union, city scores on the SAT spiraled downward for the fourth straight year.
Since the peak year of 2005, average scores on each 800-point section of the SAT have dropped by 13 points in reading and 18 points in math, declines more significant than the nation generally and far more significant than scores in contiguous states.
Authorities in the city contend that the decline in these scores is fueled by a substantial number of “low performing students taking the test.” However, this response begs the following questions. Why are students performing so poorly? And, as noteworthy, why are scores declining when city test results in math and reading have seemingly improved?