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Diane Ravitch’s Blog: Arne Duncan: We Lied to Our Children and Now We Tell the Truth: “You Failed!"

The scores are out for New York, and they are devastating.

The story in the New York Times reports:

Across the city, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the state exams in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department.

The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as Common Core, which emphasize deep analysis and creative problem-solving.

City and state officials spent months trying to steel the public for the grim figures, saying that a decline in scores was inevitable and that it would take several years before students performed at high levels. Under the old exams last year, the city fared better: 47 percent of students passed in English, and 60 percent passed in math.

Statewide, 31 percent of students passed the exams in reading and math. Last year, 55 percent passed in reading, and 65 percent in math.

Some educators were taken aback by the steep decline and said they worried the figures would rattle the confidence of students and teachers.

When you read these figures, please bear in mind that the State Education Department determined what the passing score would be.

This was a judgment call, a political calculation.

Arne Duncan defended the collapse of test scores as a good thing, Now we are telling the truth about the failure of public education, he says.

The kids didn’t fail.

The State Education Department failed.

The New York State Board of Regents failed.

They are in charge of education in New York.

They decide on curriculum, instruction, standards, teacher qualifications, and allocation of resources.

They have failed, not the students.

They should be held accountable.

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the Co-Founder and President of the Network for Publi...