Comptroller: DOE Expanded Tech Program Without Completing Pilot Study
Teachers frequently tell students how important it is to do good research before drawing conclusions. But the city comptroller says the Department of Education failed to do any research at all before expanding a technology program. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
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In 2009, then-Schools Chancellor Joel Klein unveiled a technology program he called the Department of Education's most exciting work.
"It's really a 21st-century model of education and it's the basis for what we want to move forward on, which is really bringing this kind of effort to all of our schools," Klein said in 2009.
The DOE said the five-year pilot program would add more technology and training at 10 schools. Based on how they did, they were considering expanding it systemwide by 2013.
But an audit released Wednesday by City Comptroller John Liu found that the city never set goals for the program. Instead, just one year later, the DOE changed plans and expanded it to 81 schools without a study at all.
"Our main recommendation is that the Department of Education, when they roll out these projects, they set in place milestones and performance measures so that they themselves, as well as the public and parents and students, can see if, in fact, those projects are succeeding," Liu said.
The DOE responded by downplaying the project it had once heralded.
“Not every small initiative...necessarily warrants a distinct stand alone set of measurable benchmarks,” the DOE said in a statement.
But the comptroller and the president of the teachers' union, who are both frequent critics of the DOE, said that's not in line with the Department's own agenda.
“For a department and City Hall that is supposedly data-driven and results-orientated, this seems to be sheer hypocrisy," Liu said. "They demand data and results from everybody but fail to hold themselves up to the same standards.”
“Anything a teacher does, the DOE says they have to have measurable outcome," said Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers. "So maybe the DOE should have measurable outcomes for themselves."
The comptroller said this is one of several DOE audits that found a lack of follow-through. The union agrees.
"It’s like groundhog day," Mulgrew said. "Great announcement, fanfare, we’re gonna change the world. Nobody follows up on anything, they move onto the next project."
The DOE said it did learn lessons from the brief initiative. But it didn't say what they were or how they were learned without any research.