A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by acts of corruption and fraud. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, and re-assigned. The terms "rubber room" and "ATR" mean that you or any person has been targeted for removal from your job. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
The testing company responsible for identifying city students for gifted academic programs made its second sloppy screw-up in less than a month — leading top education officials to consider dumping the firm.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott revealed yesterday that Pearson Inc., which has a three-year, $5.5 million deal to operate the city’s testing for accelerated programs, uncovered a second scoring error that impacted the placement of more than 300 students. The gaffe was caused by a miscalculation of the kids’ ages.
Some students were told they hadn’t qualified for the programs when they had, and others were ranked lower than they deserved — reducing their chances of getting assigned to programs because of limited seats, education officials said.
Last month, the firm admitted to an even more egregious error that similarly affected the placement of more than 4,700 kids.
Both errors came to light only because parents repeatedly challenged the accuracy of the scoring.
“This failure to complete the basic quality-assurance checks Pearson confirmed that they had completed [after the first error] is deeply disturbing; for this reason, the Department of Education is reviewing a variety of options including terminating Pearson’s contract,” said Walcott.
Although city officials hoped replacing one of the two entrance exams for G&T programs this year would make the admissions more selective, the number of students scoring above the cutoff bar actually shot up by 2,000 students.
Qualifying rates were particularly high in wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods like Tribeca and the Upper West Side, although the city no longer guarantees placement.
City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn went a step further than Walcott — calling on the city to shred its G&T contract with Pearson.
The firm is also responsible for the state’s high-stakes English and math exams in grades 3 to 8, which came under significant scrutiny last month.
“I urge the New York State Department of Education to learn from DOE’s experience, vet every stage of Pearson’s scoring of the state exams and carefully reconsider whether Pearson should be trusted with future state testing,” she said.
Scott Smith, president of Pearson Learning Assessment, acknowledged there was “no excuse for the scoring errors.”
“Pearson is taking all necessary measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
DOE officials said they were extending the registration deadline — for a second time — to give affected families time to select a program.