MSDE and Superintendent Choudhury Redact Student Test Data from Website Like Thieves in the Night
Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer Radio Free Oxford
Remember the state testing data? You know, the scores that COULDN’T be posted before the election but COULD be during the legislative session after the election? The data that showed how bad academics are in our state schools?
It used to be posted on the internet in all of its depressing “glory.” County after county, school after school of terrible state test scores. One system, Baltimore City, had 23 schools with NO children proficient in math. NONE.
And then one day it disappeared. In some cases it was replaced with an asterisk. In others, whole columns of data just vanished into thin air as if they had never been there. Why, one standard, proficient, was removed faster than a statue of General Robert E. Lee in New York City.
Was it magic? Divine intervention to save the hapless school systems and MSDE from extreme embarrassment? A giant hack from some secret spy agency? The Russians? The Chinese? Trump? (Just had to throw him in there since Progressives blame him for everything.)
Hardly. MSDE, the one agency that claims it is here “for the kids” has now taken to hiding the dire straits of the Maryland educational system to protect themselves and their dictatorial Superintendent.
It wasn’t long ago when Superintendent Choudhury was running here and there begging state legislators for the power over local jurisdictions and what they taught. Remember his greatest hits like, “Senator, I went over the difference between a curriculum and a framework for three hours with you yesterday’? How about when he threw a huge temper tantrum over counties deciding for themselves whether they would mask their students or not? How about when he drove many MSDE employees out of the agency? The best one was the one where he promised to steal the money of those jurisdictions that didn’t do what he wanted.
Now, in a cheap imitation of the Hamburgler* (mask and all), he has removed all negative test data for subgroups from the MSDE website. And not just this year’s data, but data from previous years. In fact, MSDE has defended this year’s redaction of data and made a promise to remove tons of test data from previous years. Wouldn’t want to show how LONG schools have failed.
From FOX 45:
Nothing but a cover up’: State removes student test scores, hides data from public | WBFF (foxbaltimore.com)
Maryland further redacts years of school test results using ‘Enhanced Deidentification’ | WBFF (foxbaltimore.com)
I was a Local Accountability Coordinator for a part of my career in the public schools. That job not only involved the administration of state tests but also the reporting of test data to the public. In that position, if I had removed or fudged data, I would not only have been fired but I would have been prosecuted and jailed.
But it seems MSDE and Superintendent Choudhury can remove this data whenever it suits them. These are the same people who wouldn’t even PUBLISH the data before the election. Now they just want to erase it, much like they would love to erase the rights of local citizens to control the education systems in their counties.
They give, as their reason, that it is to “protect the identity of students.” Forgive me if I am being silly, but I don’t see how posting percentages of groups of students at certain proficiency levels identifies them. It’s always been that data of any student subgroup with fewer than five participants would not be published. But this Superintendent and his merry band of thieves have changed that. Now it’s any subgroup of lower than THIRTY. What will it be next year? 50? 100? All of them?
Anytime the State tells you something is “incorrect” and “misleading” you know that it is correct and on target.
MSDE claims this is a federal government suggestion. They say this is “corrective action.” But even the federal government doesn’t dictate what a viable, permissible sample size is. They suggest that three to five students would be a sampling too small. And let’s face it, it’s not about correcting anything, it’s about hiding something.
Data De-identification: An Overview of Basic Terms (ed.gov)
The argument of protecting student privacy is bogus anyway. In meeting after meeting, locally and statewide, percentages of student subgroups are given in every category, free and reduced meals, special education services, graduation rates discipline and every other category possible. No one seems one bit concerned about student privacy. In fact, they seem driven to identify certain ethnic and socio-economic groups that ARE not meeting standards in order to beg for more money.
But test scores are different. At least they are now. MSDE and the State Superintendent realize that testing data is letting out their dirty BIG secret. They are failing the children of our state miserably.
Remember, they really didn’t want to release these scores anyway.
Why Maryland State Educators Are Not Sharing Test Scores – Radio Free Oxford
They gave us so many excuses in November; standard setting, item testing, etc. We know what the real reason was, to protect those who have permitted this educational debacle in the first place.
Now that they have released them and shown how bad they are, they want to do their version of rewriting history and just remove the data altogether. The blowback has been too much. It exceeds even their need to fund raise off their own failure.
As it was stated in the FOX 45 video, the state calls this an attempt at “deidentification” of individual students. Here’s how it is described by a professor from University of Maryland;
“It’s just that that sounds like something out of a Stanley Kubrick movie,” said Lucy Dalglish, Dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.
Dalglish described the term as “ludicrous.” (FOX 45)
However, it appears that the principle of deidentification” only applies to schools that are unsuccessful. Successful schools can have their subgroup students identified. There’s no “deidentification” for them.
Folks, they think you are stupid. They are working hard to make your children stupid. When government agencies do unethical things like removing data, they are making a statement to YOU, the parents and the community. That statement is, “We are hiding important information because we don’t want you to see what a failure we are. We don’t want you to see how we are miseducating your children!”
It reminds me of so many actions taken by government agencies lately. Incorrect Covid numbers, hiding vaccination injuries and death, lying about the economic situation of our country.
Like burglars in the night, Choudhury and his crew at MSDE are not only hiding test data, they are stealing the future of our children.
*The Hamburglar is a McDonald’s character who disappeared but is now coming back. Here he is. Note the resemblance. But he’s only stealing hamburgers.
Jan is a retired teacher and a current Chapter Chair for Moms for Liberty, Talbot
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