Posted on

>Ridgewood Election GuideSaturday, May 3, 2008

>Ridgewood Election GuideSaturday, May 3, 2008

Last updated: Saturday May 3, 2008, EDT 12:29 PMBY EVONNE COUTROSSTAFF WRITERFive candidates will compete for three four-year council terms in the village’s non-partisan election on May 13.

Betty Wiest, incumbent, of North Walnut Street, member of Women Gardeners of Ridgewood, has served as deputy mayor, is liaison to the parks, recreation, and conservation advisory board and the open space committee, president of Ridgewood A.M. Rotary.

Jacques Harlow, incumbent, of Oak Street, is a former ITT engineering executive, member and past president of the Ridgewood A.M. Rotary, charter trustee of the Ridgewood Public Library Foundation, served on the Planning Board, the Board of Adjustment and the Library Board.

Keith Killion of Willow Court, Ridgewood police detective, retiring in July, Vietnam veteran, has been involved in the Fourth of July Committee, Downtown for the Holidays, Memorial Day Run and Community Center Advisory Board, member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.

Anne Zusy of West Ridgewood Avenue, journalist, voted 2006 volunteer of the year by the council, member of the Community Center Advisory Board, oversaw the Youth Council and Youth Advisory Committee effort to establish a community center, president of the Federated Home and School Association.

Paul Aronsohn of Linwood Avenue, public affairs executive at Pfizer Inc., 2006 Democratic congressional candidate, director of communications for the governor’s office in 2002, special assistant in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs for the U.S. Department of State from 1993 to 2001; arms control adviser with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Ridgewood A.M. Rotary Club member.

Cutting costs: Harlow said the village must find new revenue sources by looking at the cost structure and reorganizing operations. He said the budget will have a 3.5 percent increase and that he would have liked it well below 3 percent.

Going green: Zusy said the village should take steps to go green, from installing solar panels to using more hybrid autos. She called for community and school gardens, education on food issues, use of non-chemical cleaning agents, recycling bins at the train station and bike lanes in town.

Communication and open government: Killion said he is conducting a self-financed campaign and will promote policies that maximize open government. Zusy said that as a journalist, she seeks to create conversations about good government. She favors a village-administered blog so residents may include their names and addresses and raise issues in a civil forum.

Parking garage: Killion said the planned parking garage/retail space at Walnut Street and Franklin Avenue is a huge, unnecessary expense and that the village should acquire the adjacent Town Garage property and turn it into a surface lot. Zusy said the large redevelopment plan as presented is not the way to go and that car lifts could be added to existing lots. She said the village should distribute parking maps and reserve spots for senior citizens. Aronsohn said the village is facing a challenge because the train station renovation is coming and that it would be wrong to move forward with a plan now because it would be overwhelming to have simultaneous construction projects. Harlow said the village is looking for a developer for the building, with the requirement that the village receive continuous income from the rental of the land. Wiest said that after much study, the village is interviewing developers but that the project is still a long way from a decision.

Water tower: Aronsohn said the Ridgewood Water Co. has proposed replacing the two aging tanks on Valley View with one large tank. Aronsohn said the proposal provides for a tank of greater capacity and height but said the problem is that there has been inadequate communication between the company and the affected residents. Aronsohn said that at the very least, Ridgewood Water should be more responsive to Valley View residents. Killion said the new tower should be built to the same capacity as the existing ones, with below-ground storage considered if more capacity is needed.

The Valley Hospital: Zusy said she understands the need for the hospital to modernize and neighbors’ concerns about the scope of the project and feels sure there are ways to compromise. She said she would have independent analysts look at the hospital plan to determine if the footprint could be reduced. Zusy would also examine whether sections of the facility could be moved below ground. Killion said the expansion is needed, but said the plan is too big and that he will explore a compromise with residents. Aronsohn said it would be wrong to give any member of the community, including the hospital, a blank check to develop with relatively little oversight. He said that although some of the proposed renovations might have great merit, each should be reviewed and scrutinized.

Posted on

>League of Women Voters Forum – Candidates for Village Council –

>Last night’s candidate forum was very well attended. Almost every seat in the Education Center venue was taken.

Notables observed in the audience included: Mayor Dave Pfund, Assistant to the Village Manager Janet Fricke, BOE President Joe Vallerini, BOE VP Bob Hutton, BOE member Sheila Brogan, former BOE Presidents Mark Bombace & Charlie Reilly, and Fire Department Lieutenant Chris Duflocq.

The following topics generated the most spirited discussion and disagreement between the challengers (Paul Aronsohn, Keith Killion, Anne Zusy) and incumbents (Jacques Harlow, Betty Wiest):

Parking Garage – build it or not?

CCTV Cameras In Downtown Business District – justified via crime statistics?

Pease Library – restore & retain public use, or renovate & lease?

Potential Sale of Village Owned Assets – sell water company & waste water treatment plant or retain?

Questions related to passage of the school budget and the expansion of Valley Hospital issues were also fielded by the five candidates.

The event produced no clear “winners” or “losers,” but did give all of those in attendance a good opportunity to see & hear the candidates in person.


Posted on

>Ridgewood council election draws 5 candidates for 3 seats

>April 29, 2008 – 5:21pm

Ridgewood council election draws 5 candidates for 3 seatsBy Matt Friedman
Category: LocalTags: Paul Aronsohn, Kim Ringler Shagin, Keith Killion, May 13, Jacques Harlow, Betty Wiest, Anne Zusy
In the small, densely packed Bergen County village of Ridgewood, five candidates are competing for three council seats in the May 13th municipal elections.

Up for reelection are Deputy Mayor Betty Wiest and Councilman Jacques Harlow. Councilwoman Kim Ringler Shagin is stepping down, and three new challengers are vying for a spot on the board: political veteran Paul Aronsohn, police captain Keith Killion and community activist Anne Zusy.

The village, population 25,000, is governed under the Faulkner act, meaning that the mayor is a member of the council who is selected for the position by a vote of the body’s five members. The current mayor is David Pfund, who’s not up for reelection until 2010 but could either step down from that position or could be ousted if the council votes for a different member in its July 1 reorganization meeting.

While the town has long been considered Republican leaning, its elections are non-partisan, and its council race seems almost completely void of party politics. Ridgewood is located in Bergen County, but there’s no talk — good or bad — of two of the county’s most lauded and criticized public figures: Democratic Chairman Joe Ferriero or conservative activist Steve Lonegan. Instead, the candidates are focused solely on the local issues: from property taxes to the local train station.

The biggest point of contention is whether to build a parking garage downtown.

The position of mayor, which leads council meetings but carries few additional responsibilities, pays $5,000 per year, while the rest of the council members make $3,000.

To get elected, some of the candidates may end up spending what they’ll make in their first year in office. Aronsohn has spent a little under $1,000 on lawn signs, and has $850 cash-on-hand. Wiest has spent $500 on campaign literature and has $1,435.00 on hand. The other three candidates do not appear to have raised any campaign money.

Betty Wiest

As to top vote getter amongst eight candidates four years ago, Wiest is often viewed as the frontrunner for the upcoming election. While she hasn’t yet invested in any lawn signs or other advertising, she says she’s not “resting on her laurels.”

Wiest said that she’s most proud of developing the town’s park master plan and working to secure more parkland in this town that has virtually no open space.

The most pressing issues facing the village, Wiest says, are its financial health and the need for more open space.

“While we have a AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s – one of only 6 communities in New Jersey – there’s going to be so much pressure on our infrastructure,” Wiest said.

Wiest –who’s served as deputy mayor since she was first elected in 2004 and whose husband, Quentin Wiest, served as mayor from 1986-1990 — wasn’t sure whether or not she’d be interested in becoming the next mayor.

“There’s a possibility, but here again I think it’s between the five of us to see where we want to go,” she said.

Incumbent councilman Jacques Harlow, who’s just finishing his second term, said that he’s not specifically running for the mayoral seat but will take it if the council selects him.

“I will serve if they want me but I am not running,” he said. “Some people run for mayor very assiduously, but I will serve only if called upon.”

Jacques Harlow

Harlow said he’s most proud of stopping New Jersey Transit’s renovation of the local train station and forcing them to change their plans on where to place a ramp for the handicapped. He also noted his work to renovate Village Hall, which was completed in 2005. He spent 40 hours a week on the worksite and said that he helped save village taxpayers about $1 million.

Right now, Harlow said he’s focusing on alleviating the parking problem downtown by building a parking garage that fits his criteria: that it must fit in with the town’s scenery and include retail space on the ground floor.

Harlow also said that the town needs to focus on addressing the structural problem in its budget, and that when the budget comes up for a vote next month, he’ll cats a vote against it for the first time. Although the town’s taxes are lower than many of its neighbors, Harlow said they are too high and wants to increase shared services with neighboring towns.

Paul Aronsohn

Paul Aronsohn, a public affairs employee at Pfizer who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett in Congressional District 5 last year, comes to the fold with extensive governmental experience on a federal and state level. He served in various foreign policy positions in the Clinton administration and worked as former Gov. Jim McGreevey communications director in 2002.

Aronsohn has lived in the town for three years and was first approached about running by retiring councilwoman Kim Ringler Shagin.

Aronsohn offered no criticism of any incumbents or other candidates. Instead, he said that his mix of federal, state and private sector experience would give him a unique perspective as a councilman.

“I do come to this campaign with a unique background for someone running for council,” he said. “I think I can add to the mix as opposed to replacing anyone and anything along that lines.”

Aronsohn said that villagers seem to be most concerned about what they see as a lack of effectiveness from their government.

“I think that’s actually critical because I’m a big believer that government at whatever level should be responsive to people they serve, particularly at the local level,” he said.

Among the other issues Aronsohn said are most important is Valley Hospital’s desire to change the town’s master plan in order to expand its facilities. He said that it would set a bad precedent to make any changes to the town’s master plan – which has strict parameters for new buildings and renovations to existing ones – in order to allow the hospital to expand. Instead, he said they should deal with the hospital’s plans on a case by case basis.

“The hospital is right in the middle of a residential area,” he said. “Everything they do really affects in a dramatic fashion every person in the neighborhood.”

Anne Zusy

Anne Zusy is a former New York Times reporter and breast cancer survivor who’s lived in the village for 13 years – between living in London and Washington.

Zusy, who extensively involved in various volunteer positions, said that despite the nominal salary, she sees being a councilmember as “the ultimate volunteer job.”

Zusy said that she was pivotal in creating the community center in Village Hall’s basement in 2004, helping to secure its funding from a local philanthropist.

According to Zusy, her unconventional way of thinking lends itself to getting things done quickly and efficiently – one of her campaign slogans is “Annie gets things done.”

“People keep asking me why I want to do this,” she said. “The village government is in need of a makeover, and I think I have lots of ideas to do that in many different directions.”

Zusy called the parking garage plan championed by Wiest and Harlow a “debacle,” and instead favored building surface lots on vacant land in other parts of town that could include lifts to stack cars.

While she said she has immense respect for Harlow and Wiest, Zusy said she would prefer Aronsohn and Killion if she had to pick two other candidates to win the election, if only for the sake of change.

“That would really send a message to the village that it’s time for a makeover – it’s time to refresh Ridgewood,” she said. “I think that experience is not necessarily number one in my book.”

Keith Killion
Killion, who’s retiring as the village police department’s Captain of Detectives in July, took exception to the current parking garage plan, saying that the village could save $3 million by just building a surface lot on the property and then dealing with additional parking needs as they arise.

Killion said that he’s running because the council has been slow to address its constituents’ needs.

“The problem I have with the council is really nothing getting done,” said Killion. “They seem not to act fast enough. I’m sure their hearts are in the right way but we’ve had projects that have languished over the last four or five years.”

Among those projects, Killion said, is the Habernickel farm – land the village acquired with plans to build several baseball fields, but has so far only built one soccer field.

Killion also said that, while the village doesn’t have big city crime problems, crime is a serious concern. He noted that the police department just made a major drug bust, and that some cocaine had found its way to the high school.

“I believe a safe community is paramount,” he said.

Posted on

>the man who is shaping the curriculum that your kids are following!

>That’s Dr. real piece of sh*t maggot to you sir!

Show a little respect to

Bill Ayers began his career in primary education while an undergraduate, teaching at the Children’s Community School (CCS). After leaving the underground, he earned an M.Ed from Bank Street College in Early Childhood Education (1984), an M.Ed from Teachers College, Columbia University in Early Childhood Education (1987) and an Ed.D from Columbia University in Curriculum and Instruction (1987).
Ayers’ influence on what is taught in the nation’s public schools is likely to grow in the future.

Last month, he was elected vice president for curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest organization of education-school professors and researchers. Ayers won the election handily, and there is no doubt that his fellow education professors knew whom they were voting for.

In the short biographical statement distributed to prospective voters beforehand, Ayers listed among his scholarly books Fugitive Days, an unapologetic memoir about his ten years in the Weather Underground. The book includes dramatic accounts of how he bombed the Pentagon and other public buildings.


Posted on

>Bill Ayers

*Leader of the 1960s and 70s domestic terrorist group Weatherman
*”Kill all the rich people. … Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents.”
*Participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the *Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972
*Currently a professor of education at the University of Illinois

Born in 1944, Bill Ayers, along with his wife Bernardine Dohrn, was a 1960s leader of the homegrown terrorist group Weatherman, a Communist-driven splinter faction of Students for a Democratic Society. Characterizing Weatherman as “an American Red Army,” Ayers summed up the organization’s ideology as follows: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents.”

Today Ayers is a professor of education and a Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois. He has also authored a series of books about parenting and educating children, including: A Kind and Just Parent; To Become a Teacher; City Kids; City Teachers; To Teach; The Good Preschool Teacher; Zero Tolerance: Resisting the Drive for Punishment in Our Schools; and Teaching Towards Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom.

In his most recent screed, Fugitive Days, Ayers recounts his life as a Sixties radical, his tenure as a Weatherman lieutenant, his terrorist campaign across America, and his enduring hatred for for the United States. “What a country,” Ayers said in 2001. “It makes me want to puke.”

Ayers was an active participant in Weatherman’s 1969 “Days of Rage” riots in Chicago, where nearly 300 members of the organization employed guerrilla-style tactics to viciously attack police officers and civilians alike, and to destroy massive amounts of property via vandalism and arson; their objective was to further spread their anti-war, anti-American message. Reminiscing on those riots, Ayers says pridefully: “We’d … proven that it was possible — we didn’t all die, we were still there.”

A substantial portion of Ayers’ book Fugitive Days discusses the author’s penchant for building and deploying explosives. Ayers boasts that he “participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972.” Of the day he bombed the Pentagon, Ayers says, “Everything was absolutely ideal. … The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.”

On another occasion, Ayers stated: “There’s something about a good bomb … Night after night, day after day, each majestic scene I witnessed was so terrible and so unexpected that no city would ever again stand innocently fixed in my mind. Big buildings and wide streets, cement and steel were no longer permanent. They, too, were fragile and destructible. A torch, a bomb, a strong enough wind, and they, too, would come undone or get knocked down.”

All told, Ayers and Weatherman were responsible for 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the U.S. “I don’t regret setting bombs, said Ayers in 2001, “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

In 1970, Ayers’ then-girlfriend Diana Oughton, along with Weatherman members Terry Robbins and Ted Gold, were killed when a bomb they were constructing exploded unexpectedly. That bomb had been intended for detonation at a dance that was to be attended by army soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Hundreds of lives could have been lost had the plan been successfully executed. Ayers attested that the bomb would have done serious damage, “tearing through windows and walls and, yes, people too.”

After the death of his girlfriend, Ayers and his current wife, Bernardine Dohrn, spent the 1970s as fugitives running from the FBI. In 1980 the two surrendered, but all charges against them were dropped due to an “improper surveillance” technicality. Ayers’ comment on his life, as reported by Peter Collier and David Horowitz in their authoritative chapter on Weatherman in Destructive Generation, is this: “Guilty as sin, free as a bird, America is a great country.”

Notwithstanding his violent past, Ayers today does not describe himself as a terrorist. “Terrorists destroy randomly,” he reasons, “while our actions bore … the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists intimidate, while we aimed only to educate.”

In Fugitive Days, Ayers reflects on whether or not he might use bombs against the U.S. in the future. “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility,” he writes.

In 1999 Ayers joined the Woods Fund of Chicago, where he served as a director alongside Barak Obama until the latter left the Woods board in December 2002. Ayers went on to become Woods’ Chairman of the Board. In 2002 the Woods Fund made a grant to Northwestern University Law School’s Children and Family Justice Center, where Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was employed.

Posted on

>Message to all Tax Payers

>Actually I do drive a, how did you put it, A BIG FAT SUV. But the vehicle I drive really has nothing to do with the topic at hand. The fact of the matter is that he is the boss and part of being the boss is getting a company car. You don’t have to like him, you don’t have to like anything about it. If bitching and moaning makes you feel better, than type away. But it’s not gonna change anything. He’s still gonna get his BIG FAT SUV!! Maybe you should just call him yourself and tell him exactly how you feel. And then call the police chief….the fire chief and the chief of emergency servicies. Let them know how you feel as well. I’m sure they would all just love to hear from you!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Posted on


APRIL 28, 2008
7:30 P.M.

1. Call to Order – Mayor

2. Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meeting Act

MAYOR: “Adequate notice of this meeting has been provided
by a posting on the bulletin board in Village Hall,
by mail to the Ridgewood News, The Record, and by submission to all persons entitled to same as provided by law of a schedule including the date and time of this meeting.”

3. Roll Call

4. Comments from the Public (Other than Pease Building and Filing of Declaration of Intent of Grant Application for Pease Building)

5. ORDINANCE – INTRODUCTION – #3121 – Permit Use of Graydon Pool by Residents of Paramus – Permits Paramus residents to join Graydon Pool for the 2008 summer season, and establishes the fees for these out of town residents to join


08-100 Authorize Settlement of General Liability Claim

7. Explanation of Advantages of Accepting the Gift from David Bolger – Councilman Harlow

8. Explanation of Advantages of Filing for the State and County Historic Preservation Grants – Councilman Mancuso

9. Comments from the Public Pertaining to the Pease Building and/or the Filing of the Declaration of Intent of Grant Applications for the Pease Building


08-101 Authorize Filing of Declaration of Intent of Grant Application for Pease Building – Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund Capital Preservation Grant for Historic Preservation
08-102 Authorize Filing of Declaration of Intent of Grant Application for Pease Building – Bergen County Historic Preservation Trust Fund

11. Adjournment

Apple iTunes

Posted on

>"Authentic Assessment" & Former Weatherman Bill Ayers


A quick internet search reveals that Ms. Botsford’s ASCD organization’s heavy buy-in with respect to “Authentic Assessment” may have its intellectual roots in work published in 1999 by the same American Educational Research Association (AERA) that recently hired Bill Ayers in concert with the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Council for Measurement in Education (NCME).

Consider the following ASCD paper (copied verbatim from

(Begin quote)

A Policymaker’s Primer on Testing and Assessment

Dan Laitsch

Standardized testing plays an increasingly important role in the lives of today’s students and educators. The U.S. No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires assessment in math and literacy in grades 3–8 and 10 and, as of 2007–08, in science once in grades 3–5, 6–9, and 10–12. Based on National Center for Education Statistics enrollment projections, that will be roughly 68 million tests per year, simply to meet the requirements of NCLB. Such an intense focus on assessment, with real consequences attached for students and educators, makes it imperative that policymakers understand the complexities involved with assessment and in using assessments as part of high-stakes accountability policies.

As policymakers continue to establish and revise state and national assessment and accountability systems, two overarching questions must be addressed:

Do current tests supply valid and reliable information?
What happens to such assessments when high stakes are attached to the outcomes?

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the National Council for Measurement in Education (NCME) have jointly released The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (1999), a detailed set of guidelines on assessment use. Within these guidelines, the associations note that although tests, “when used appropriately, can be valid measures of student achievement,” decisions “about a student’s continued education, such as retention, tracking, or graduation, should not be based on the results of a single test but should include other relevant and valid information” (APA, 2001, paras. 9, 14). In a position supported by its Leadership Council, ASCD takes a similar stance (see box).

ASCD Adopted Position on High-Stakes Testing, 2004

Decision makers in education—students, parents, educators, community members, and policymakers—all need timely access to information from many sources. Judgments about student learning and education program success need to be informed by multiple measures. Using a single achievement test to sanction students, educators, schools, districts, states/provinces, or countries is an inappropriate use of assessment. ASCD supports the use of multiple measures in assessment systems that are

Fair, balanced, and grounded in the art and science of learning and teaching;

Reflective of curricular and developmental goals and representative of content that students have had an opportunity to learn;

Used to inform and improve instruction;

Designed to accommodate nonnative speakers and special-needs students; and

Valid, reliable, and supported by professional, scientific, and ethical standards designed to fairly assess the unique and diverse abilities and knowledge base of all students.

Complexities in Assessment
On both the individual and system levels, assessment poses issues worthy of consideration.

Individual Assessment. Multiple forms of assessment are important because of the potential effect of human error within even well-designed systems. Researchers at the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy found that human error in testing programs occurs during all phases of testing (from design and administration to scoring and reporting), and that such errors can have a significant negative effect on students when high-stakes decisions are made.

In 1999, researchers found that individuals involved in the assessment process made numerous errors across the different phases of the assessment process, resulting in significant negative consequences. For example, 50 students were wrongly denied graduation; 8,668 students were needlessly required to attend summer school; and 257,000 students were misclassified as limited-English-proficient (Rhodes & Madaus, 2003). In January of 2003, more than 4,000 teacher candidates were incorrectly failed on their certification tests due to an ETS scoring error (Clark, 2004).

Systemic Assessment. Using test results to evaluate educational systems is also problematic. As highlighted in a recent presentation at ETS (Raudenbush, 2004), the general concept of using tests for this purpose assumes there is a causal relationship between the system (treatment) and the test score (outcomes); however, assessment systems as currently designed are not structured to determine causation (there are no comparison or control groups). The assessment systems assume that school effects cause any differentiation in scores, but those differences could be the result of other, uncontrolled-for variables, such as the effect of previous schools or the effect of wealth or community characteristics (Popham, 2003; Turkheimer, Haley, Waldron, D’Onofrio, & Gottesman, 2003). According to Raudenbush, using school-mean proficiency results (NCLB’s basic accountability mechanisms) to evaluate schools is “scientifically indefensible,” and although value-added assessment (which measures year-to-year gain) addresses some issues, it, too, presents a flawed analysis of schoolwide performance, particularly when there are transitions between schools or significant differences in earlier educational experiences.

High-Stakes Accountability
The addition of high-stakes consequences to assessment systems in order to motivate change in educator behavior adds one more serious degree of complexity. High-stakes accountability mechanisms generally rely on operant theories of motivation that emphasize the use of external incentives (punishments or rewards) to force change (Ryan & Brown, in press). Other theories of motivation, however, suggest that such reliance on external incentives will result in negative and unintended consequences (Ryan & Brown, in press; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Operant approaches to motivation focus on behaviors (that is, the reward or punishment is designed to cause behavioral change), but the testing movement focuses on outcomes (the achievement of specific scores) regardless of behavior change. These conflicting goals result in a situation where the ends (higher test scores) become more important than the means (changes in educator behavior) used to achieve those ends. In other words, because the rewards and punishments stemming from the testing program are attached to conditions that educators may not have control over (including school and classroom resources, community poverty, social supports, and so on), educators are left to make changes in variables they do control (such as student enrollments, test administration, and classroom instruction).

As predicted by Ryan and Brown, the change in these variables is complex and includes consequences that policymakers could not have intended, such as narrowing the curriculum and associated training to tested subjects (Berry, Turchi, Johnson, Hare, Owens, & Clements, 2003; Moon, Callahan, & Tomlinson, 2003), increased push-out of underperforming students (Lewin & Medina, 2003), and increased manipulation of test administration (Rodriguez, 1999). A recent survey conducted by the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy found that 75 percent of teachers thought that state-mandated testing programs led teachers in their school to teach in ways that contradict their own ideas of good educational practice (Pedulla, 2003).

Assessment Types, Uses, and Scoring
Because much of the responsibility for the use of assessments resides with the users, it is important that policymakers understand in general what tests can and cannot do, as well as the appropriate ways in which tests might be used as part of an accountability system.

At best, tests are an incomplete measure of what a student knows and can do. A final score measures only the student’s performance relative to the sample of items included on that specific test. This is why educators argue for the use of multiple measures in evaluating students—so that a more complete picture of the student can be generated. Educators use assessments that cover a variety of purposes and measure differing levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities. For an assessment to work well, it must be consistent with the instructions of the test maker. Using a test for a purpose for which it was not intended can result in invalid or unreliable outcomes. The same is true regarding use of a test that has not been fully validated, or using tests where the scoring parameters have been set for political or public relations purposes rather than measurement purposes.

Thus, it is critical that the appropriate assessments and measures be used for the identified policy or educational goals. Three general areas to consider when examining assessments are test type (such as achievement tests or aptitude tests), test use (for diagnostics, placement, or formative or summative evaluation), and the scoring reference (raw scores, norm-referenced scores, or criterion-referenced scores).

Test Type. Achievement and aptitude tests, although similar, attempt to measure two different concepts. Achievement tests generally measure the specific content a student has (or has not) learned, whereas aptitude tests attempt to predict a student’s future behavior or achievement (Popham, 2003). Although student outcomes on these tests may be related, it would be inappropriate to use the tests interchangeably because they measure different constructs. The SAT is an example of an aptitude test that is frequently misused by policy activists to make content-focused judgments or comparisons of student achievement.

Test Use. Tests are used to help diagnose areas of student strength and weakness, as well as specific learning difficulties. Tests can also be used to guide school readiness and placement decisions, and to make formative or summative evaluations. Formative evaluations are structured assessments designed to gauge the progress of students as measured against specific learning objectives. Such assessments are used to help guide instruction so that teachers and students have a general idea of what learning outcomes have been achieved, and where further focus is needed. Summative assessments, on the other hand, are used to evaluate achievement at the end of specific educational programs (for example, mathematics achievement at the end of grade 10).

Scoring. The way in which tests are designed to have scores reported—as norm-referenced or criterion-referenced—also plays a key role in test usage. Norm-referenced tests are designed to result in a score spread, so that students can be compared to their peers and placed in a hierarchy by percentage. Scores reported from a norm-referenced test, therefore, are broken out in such a way as to ensure that half of the test takers score in the top 50 percent, and half score in the bottom 50 percent. Because the goal is to differentiate between test takers, when test items are created and validated, items that are too easy—or too hard—are discarded because they fail to differentiate between students. Even if a norm-referenced test is created from a set of state standards, it is exceptionally difficult to use such a test as a summative assessment because important content items may have been discarded in the test building process for being deemed too easy or too hard (Popham, 2003; Linn & Gronlund, 1995).

Criterion-referenced tests, however, do try to focus specifically on student outcomes relative to a fixed body of knowledge. Criterion-referenced tests can result in the majority of students scoring above, or below, a specified cut score. And, in fact, a criterion-referenced test should be positively (or negatively) skewed, depending on the success of the students and teachers in addressing the body of content from which the test has been constructed. State assessments designed to measure the achievement of students relative to the state’s content standards should be criterion-referenced.

Test scores are also occasionally reported in raw scores, which are simply the total of correct responses. Unfortunately, the raw score is frequently misinterpreted because it is reported without interpretation. A test that is particularly difficult (or easy) may have an unusually low (or high) average score. Without knowing the context of the test or the scoring, it is impossible to make a judgment as to what the raw scores say about the performance of test takers.

Interpreting Test Scores

Linn and Gronlund (1995) offer five cautions for interpreting test scores:

Scores should be interpreted in terms of the specific tests from which they were derived. In other words, student scores on a reading test should not be taken to represent students’ general ability to read; rather, the scores should be examined only in light of the skills the assessment was intended to measure. For instance, a reading test that measures a student’s ability to sound out words would not tell us how well a student comprehends the main idea in a paragraph of text.
Scores should be interpreted in light of all the student’s relevant characteristics. A student’s score on a specific test may be influenced by many variables, including language background, education, cultural background, and motivation. A low score does not necessarily indicate that the student does not know the material or that the system has failed to engage the student.

Scores should be interpreted according to the type of decisions to be made. Test scores should not be generalized to actions beyond the original purpose of the test.
Scores should be interpreted as a band of possible scores, rather than an absolute value. Because tests are only an approximate measure of what a student actually knows and can do, the student’s true abilities may differ from the measured score. Most tests include a measure of standard error, which can be used to help determine where a student’s true score may lie. For example, the true score for a student scoring a 68 on a test with a 4-point standard error is likely to fall within the range of 64 to 72.

Scores should be verified by supplementary evidence. This is perhaps the single most important admonition for test users. No test can ensure the accurate measure of a student’s true performance; other evidence should be examined. Allowing students to retake the same test does not provide supplementary evidence of performance. Instead, alternative measures, such as classroom performance, should be used to help make accurate determinations of student abilities.

Constructing Assessment Systems

In constructing assessment systems, test makers can draw from a variety of item types and formats, depending on the type of assessment being created and its purpose. For example, although selected-response tests (such as multiple-choice tests) are easy to score and offer a reasonable measure for vocabulary, facts, or general principles and methods, they are less useful for measuring complex achievement, such as the application of principles or the ability to generate hypotheses or conduct experiments. Such complex abilities require more complex item constructs, such as those found on constructed-response tests, which may include essay questions or actual performance assessments.

On the other hand, performance and portfolio assessments (authentic assessment assessments) allow students to more intentionally demonstrate their competence. Although such assessments may resemble traditional constructed-response tests, their goal is to mirror tasks that people might face in real life. For example, they might require students to demonstrate writing competence through a series of polished essays, papers, or poems (depending on the type of writing being assessed), or to design, set up, run, and evaluate a science experiment. Other types of performance assessment include speeches, formal presentations, or exhibits of student work.

Portfolio assessments, although similar to performance assessments, are designed to collect data over time and can also include measures from traditional assessments. The goal of portfolios is to allow teachers, students, and evaluators to gauge student growth by examining specific artifacts that students have created. Students in British Columbia, for example, are required to present a Graduation Portfolio Assessment, which accounts for 4 of the 80 course credits required to be awarded a diploma (BC Ministry of Education, 2004). The portfolio documents student work in grades 10–12 in six domains: Arts and Design, Community Involvement and Responsibility, Education and Career Planning, Employability Skills, Information Technology, and Personal Health. Although districts have approached the requirement in different ways, Surrey School District, which has the largest enrollment in British Columbia, is helping students create electronic portfolios that will provide Web-accessible evidence of their academic performance. In Providence, Rhode Island, the Met School has gone one step further and eliminated grades and traditional tests altogether, evaluating student work completely through publicly presented portfolios (Washor & Mojkowski, 2003).

Constructed-response tests—including performance and portfolio assessments—provide a richer evaluation of students, but they are much more time-consuming for teachers, students, and evaluators; they are also more expensive and difficult to administer and score in a large-scale standardized manner. Connecticut school officials are currently in a dispute with the U.S. Department of Education regarding assessment costs, because they don’t want to “dumb down” their constructed-response tests by dropping writing components that require hand scoring (Archer, 2005). Even so, the educational richness inherent in authentic assessments suggests that policymakers take seriously the possibility of incorporating a deep evidence base in assessment and accountability models.

Assessment and Ethics
The ethical practices related to testing and assessment further complicate the picture. As highlighted by Megargee (2000), the ethical responsibilities for assessment are split between the test developer and the test user—the developer being responsible for ensuring the tests are scientifically reliable and valid measures, and the user for “the proper administration and scoring of the test, interpretation of the test scores, communication of the results, safeguarding the welfare of the test takers, and maintaining the confidentiality of their test records” (p. 52). This separation of ethical responsibility between test makers and consumers results in a loophole that allows commercial test makers to sell assessments to clients even when they know the tests will be misused. Additionally, although the education profession has taken responsibility for creating ethical standards, it currently has no mechanisms for enforcement.


Policymakers face a daunting challenge in designing school assessment and accountability systems; however, professionals in assessment have worked hard to provide the basic outline for policies that can support positive assessment systems. These systems cannot be implemented cheaply, and when cost-saving compromises are made, serious damage to both individuals and systems (school and assessment) can result. Therefore, policymakers should work to carefully understand (and adjust for) the trade-offs they make as they seek to create cost-effective accountability systems. It is not an understatement to say that the lives of individual students will be positively—or negatively—affected by the decisions they make.

In an effort to increase both the instructional use of assessments and public confidence in such systems, states should work to keep these systems transparent, allowing relevant stakeholders to review test content and student answer sheets. Teachers, parents, and students cannot use test data to improve instruction or focus learning if they are denied access to detailed score reports. In fact, states may be required to give such information to parents. Washington State officials recently decided to give parents access to student tests and booklets because they determined that under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), exams were defined as part of a student’s educational records and, therefore, must be made available to parents—and to students once they reach 18 years of age (Houtz, 2005).

Professional associations and psychometricians have focused on creating standards for test use (AERA, APA, & NCME, 1999), some of which have been delineated here. Due to the split between assessment creators and consumers regarding ethical responsibilities for test usage, as well as the lack of professional enforcement mechanisms, it is imperative that policymakers incorporate the recommendations of assessment professionals as they create systems that use evidence from standardized and large-scale assessment programs.

Recent Origins of Standardized Testing

Much of the theory and many constructs undergirding standardized assessments evolved from work done on standardized intelligence testing. British psychologist Sir Francis Galton, French psychologist Alfred Binet, and an American from Stanford University, Lewis Terman, are generally credited as the fathers of modern intelligence testing (Megargee, 2000). The work of Terman and Binet ultimately resulted in the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, which is still in use today. The SAT—an aptitude test (a test that attempts to predict a student’s future achievement)—came into being in 1926 to help predict a student’s likely success in college, and the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) were introduced a decade later. In 1939, David Wechsler introduced an intelligence scale that broke intelligence into discrete pieces, in this case verbal and nonverbal subtests. The first large-scale use of standardized intelligence testing occurred in the U.S. military during World War I, when more than 1,700,000 recruits were tested to determine their role (as officers or enlisted men) or denote them as unable to serve. Standardized achievement tests, which attempt to measure the specific knowledge and skills that a student currently possesses (and not general intellectual ability or potential for future achievement), came into widespread use in the 1970s through minimum competency testing (Popham, 2001).

The evolution of intelligence testing has been turbulent, with researchers still debating whether intelligence is a single construct referred to as “g” (Gottfredson, 1998) or consists of many different intelligences, such as Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences posits: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist (Checkley, 1997). In addition to debates about how to define intelligence, scientists are trying to determine how much of it—if any—is hereditary and how much is learned—that is, influenced positively or negatively by the environment in which a person exists. One recent study, for example, found that the effects of poverty on intelligence could overwhelm any genetic differences, emphasizing the complex nature of intelligence (Turkheimer, Haley, Waldron, D’Onofrio, & Gottesman, 2003).

Historically, intelligence testing has also been used in ways that many people today find offensive. The eugenics movement of the early-mid-20th century used intelligence testing to identify individuals who were “feebleminded” (or had other deficiencies) so that they could be institutionalized or placed in basic-skills tracks (Stoskopf, 1999b). Eugenic policies were created to “strengthen” the genetic makeup of Americans, and scientists who supported these policies provided the impetus for U.S. immigration restrictions in the 1920s and sterilization laws that were in effect through the 1960s—resulting in the sterilization of, at a minimum, 60,000 individuals (Reilly, 1987). As recently as last year, a candidate for U.S. Congress from Tennessee, James Hart, garnered almost 60,000 votes running on a platform of eugenics (Associated Press, 2004; Hart, 2004; McDowell, 2004).

Early IQ testing, which was greatly affected by culturally biased items, also resulted in the tracking of African American children into low-level courses and vocational schools, on the basis of the assumption that they had generally low mental abilities (Stoskopf, 1999a). In 1923, Carl Brigham, who later helped create the SAT, published A Study of American Intelligence, which alleged on the basis of U.S. Army testing that intelligence was tied to race. Brigham recanted his findings in 1930; however, his work was used extensively to provide “scientific” evidence for racist policies in the 1920s (Stoskopf, 1999a).

[Extensive bibliography omitted]

Dan Laitsch is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and is coeditor of the International Journal for Education Policy and Leadership.

ASCD Infobrief
July 2005 Number 42
Assessment Policy

Copyright © 2005 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

© 2008 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Posted on

>Weather Underground 40 years ago,and in Ridgewood Schools NOW!

>The New Jersey Department of Education provides a web page containing a list of links relating to “Language Arts Literacy”.

While the list is admittedly alphabetical, it is nonetheless at least a little funny (ha-ha, “isn’t that sweet justice” funny) to this observer that Chicago-based Mr. Bill Ayers’ AERA organization and Ridgewood-based Ms. Botsford’s ASCD organization are listed together at the top of the official links page (found at

Note the innocuous descriptions of the two organizations, each of which has its own rather aggressive public agenda not necessarily in line with the best interests of New Jersey’s school-age children, IMHO.

(Begin Quote)

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

AERA is concerned with improving the educational process by encouraging scholarly inquiry related to education and by promoting the dissemination and practical application of research results.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

ASCD is an international, nonprofit, nonpartisan education association committed to the mission of forging covenants in teaching and learning for the success of all learners. ASCD provides professional development in curriculum and supervision; encourages research, evaluation, and theory development; and disseminates information on education issues.

It seems Mr. Obama’s friend Bill Ayers of Weather Underground fame is now seeking revolutionary change by another means.

Query whether people like Bill Ayers will expect the White House doors to be thrown open to them in the event Mr. Obama is elected.

Putting national implications to one side, though, the following information and related open-ended question also seems relevant to the Ridgewood district’s current struggles with a certain willful, inscrutable administrator currently populating Cottage Place. Enjoy!

(Found today, Monday, April 28, 2008, on For information about the AERA organization that recently elevated Mr. Ayers to the upper echelon of its leadership, see

(Begin Quote)

Bill Ayers is not a “professor of English”

In fact, he is a tenured Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

I haven’t heard if Obama has corrected himself on this. However, this is what I’m interested in:

The more pressing issue is not the damage done by the Weather Underground 40 years ago, but the far greater harm inflicted on the nation’s schoolchildren by the political and educational movement in which Ayers plays a leading role today.


Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.


Ayers’s influence on what is taught in the nation’s public schools is likely to grow in the future. Last month, he was elected vice president for curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest organization of education-school professors and researchers. Ayers won the election handily, and there is no doubt that his fellow education professors knew whom they were voting for. In the short biographical statement distributed to prospective voters beforehand, Ayers listed among his scholarly books Fugitive Days, an unapologetic memoir about his ten years in the Weather Underground. The book includes dramatic accounts of how he bombed the Pentagon and other public buildings.

(Sol Stern in the City Journal)

Maybe the media should be questioning Obama and McCain about their views on Ayers in this influential position. Some readers might believe doing so would be a demonstration of “gotcha” politics, but I really would like to hear their answers.

Posted by Tex at 7:23 AM 6 comments Links to this post

Labels: AERA, ed schools, education research