Substance Archive

General News | June 2002 Issue

Mayor Daley announces Iowa reading and math test scores have gone ‘up’once again

By George N. Schmidt

For the sixth time in seven years, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that scores on the annual Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) had gone “up” in Chicago’s elementary and high schools. Speaking to a packed press conference on May 30 at the Kellogg Elementary School in the affluent Beverly neighborhood in Chicago’s far south side, the mayor praised his new school administrative team and promised even more improvements in the future.

Flanked by principals and school board administrators — and applauded regularly by other administrators scattered throughout the small library at Kellogg Elementary School (9241 S. Leavitt) — Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that test scores had gone ‘up’ again at a May 30 press conference. For the first time since Daley became mayor, however, the Board of Education released only summary data without providing the press with school-by-school results. For the first time since May 1996, the Chicago Board of Education refused to release school-by-school results (including the number of children taking the tests at each school) at the same time as the mayor’s announcement.

According to the materials provided by the Board of Education and the mayor’s press office at the event, “43.2 percent of elementary school students are reading at or above national norms, while 46,9 percent are performing at or above national norms in math.” The press material stated that reading test scores are up “almost three percentage points over last year” while math scores are “up” even more.

Daley praised schools CEO Arne Duncan and school board president Michael Scott, both of whom were present at the media event, for the progress. Duncan and Scott in turn praised their reading initiative and school principals (who were also present) for the improvements. Some praise was also offered to teachers.

When asked by one reporter about rumors that the tests had been made easier and that at least one test procedure had produced the opportunity for cheating, Daley lost his temper. He was then seconded by school principals, who berated the press for even suggesting that the test score data were irregular or improper.

When asked when the full report on all schools would be ready, officials of the Board of Education’s Office of Communications promised Substance that they would be provided as soon as they were available. Nearly a week after the mayor’s media event, the data still weren’t available to the public.

When asked if he would supply Substance with a copy of the Interpretive Guide to the new Iowa and TAP tests, Chicago Board of Education test official John Easton said “No.”

On April 18, Substance had tried to purchase a copy of the “interpretive guide” from Riverside Publishing, which distributes the Iowa and TAP tests. The company refused to sell the guide to Substance, claiming in a letter that it could not sell the Iowa test to this newspaper. Substance was not attempting to purchase the tests, but only to purchase the 150-page interpretive guides, which describe proper uses of the tests.

Riverside Publishing receives multi-million dollar contracts from the Chicago Board of Education to provide the school system with the Iowa and TAP tests and for scoring the tests.


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