State officials have recognized a few more consequences of the state's standardized tests being deemed too easy. On top of students advancing grades without being properly prepared, the "improved" math and English scores led to student placement in selective middle schools and bonuses for teachers. Testing critic Diane Ravitch told the Daily News, "[The progress reports] are only as good as the data they are based on, and now we know the data is phony. Schools have been punished and teachers have been rewarded based on these fraudulent tests." Those "rewards" cost the city $33 million.
The bonuses are 85% based on test scores, which Harvard Professor Daniel Koretz said were misleading. After being commissioned by the state to analyze the scores, he found that between 2006 and 2009, students were tested on a narrower range of material, which means they didn't have to learn as much to get a higher score.
Even though the DOE admitted the tests were flawed and vowed to make them harder, they're still defending their bonus spending. Deputy Schools Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky said, "By any measure, on national assessments and compared to the rest of New York State, our accountability system has led to real, demonstrable progress." Somehow we don't think comparing yourself to the rest of New York State is a great way to prove you're reliable.