Who cares about international test scores!


The Times cares—in certain editions: As we noted yesterday, several new sets of international test scores have been released this week.

The new data come from the TIMSS and the PIRLS. They’re two of the biggest international test programs—and the tests are only given every four or five years.

(Every four years for the TIMSS, every five years for the PIRLS.)

Given the constant hype about such scores, you’d think our major newspapers would care about this release. Yesterday, the New York Times did care—but only in certain editions.

As we noted, Motoko Rich’s report about the scores appeared in yesterday’s hard-copy Times. Well actually, it seems to have appeared in the so-called “New York Edition.” (We’re going by the note appended to Rich’s report on-line.)

Uh-oh! Here on our sprawling campus, we get the so-called “Washington Edition.” Yesterday morning, Rich’s report did not appear in our hard-copy paper.

Truth? We have a sneaking suspicion that “Washington Edition” is really another way of saying “Early Edition.” We don’t know how many subscribers around the country get some form of an early edition. (Does the Times publish a “Minot Edition?”) But that’s the edition which lands on our steps—and Rich’s report wasn’t there.

We thought her report might appear in our paper today. Sorry. No such luck!

As everyone knows, these test scores play a major role in our hapless education discourse. You’d think a newspaper like the Times would at least pretend to be interested when new sets of scores appear.

Yesterday, the Times did pretend—if you got the “New York Edition.” If you get some other edition, the Times said you don't have to bother.

In our view, Rich missed several stories which emerge from the new test scores. Around the country, how many readers were deprived of the chance to be misled by her focus?

Coming soon: We expect to review the coverage of these new scores on Friday or Saturday. It’s fascinating to see the focus a few major papers have taken.


  1. "Around the country, how many readers were deprived of the chance to be misled by her focus?"

    And people complain there's no humor here!

  2. Is there by any chance a "Staten Island Edition," for which denizens have to wait days?

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  4. Ah, that explains Bob's silence up to now on this piece. Here in MA, I get the New England edition, usually (for some reason, sometimes I get the NY). I think the only difference is the weather report. Anyway, this article was in my hard copy.

    What struck me about it (as I recall): from the information reported in the article, it looked to me like US students were doing very well on these tests, but the headline and some statements in the article interpreted its own information very differently.

    Looking forward to Bob S's take.