Two experts agree that we’re right: Each is an “educational expert”—one from the left and one from the right.
Yesterday, they joined forces in a New York Times op-ed column! They linked arms across the expert divide. Here’s part of what the pair wrote:
HESS AND DARLING-HAMMOND (12/6/11): We agree, though, on what the federal government can do well. It should not micromanage schools, but should focus on the four functions it alone can perform.They didn’t use the hoary term, “gold standard of educational testing.” But in that passage, the experts agreed. The National Assessment of Educational Progress represents our best educational data!
First is encouraging transparency for school performance and spending. For all its flaws, No Child Left Behind’s main contribution is that it pushed states to measure and report achievement for all students annually. Without transparency, it’s tough for parents, voters and taxpayers to hold schools and public officials accountable. However, No Child Left Behind also let states use statistical gimmicks to report performance. Instead of the vague mandate of “adequate yearly progress,” federal financing should be conditioned on truth in advertising — on reliably describing achievement (or lack thereof) and spending. To track achievement, states should be required to link their assessments to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (or to adopt a similar multistate assessment).
Why then doesn’t the New York Times tell its long-suffering readers what the NAEP data show? The Times has never done this! As propaganda swirls all around them, New York Times readers have never been told what those data show!
When will this pompous, self-impressed newspaper get off its asp and report?
When will Times readers be told: In August, Richard Rothstein described the NAEP data in a little-remembered piece at Slate:
ROTHSTEIN (8/29/11): Central to the reformers' argument is the claim that radical change is essential because student achievement (especially for minority and disadvantaged children) has been flat or declining for decades. This is, however, false. The only consistent data on student achievement come from a federal sample, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Though you would never know it from the state of public alarm about education, the numbers show that regular public school performance has skyrocketed in the last two decades to the point that, for example, black elementary school students now have better math skills than whites had only 20 years ago.Especially given prevailing propaganda, that last fact is simply astounding. When will Times readers be told?
NAEP data are constantly praised in the Times. When will this newspaper gets off its asp and report what these great data show?