Are children in D.C. learning more?

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2013

In the Post, Whitmire says yes: Are children in D.C.’s public schools learning more than they did in the past?

Have their reading skills advanced? Do today’s students know more math than their counterparts from earlier years?

That’s the way it looks on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, even after disaggregation. But uh-oh! Because we liberals know as a matter of faith that such things cannot be true, Valerie Strauss invented a set of ridiculous claims to explain the score gains away.

To examine Strauss' claims, click this. As always, Diane Ravitch went farther (same link), stating that D.C. is “the lowest performing urban district in the nation.”

Plainly, that isn’t the case—but who cares? In this age of propagandization, our leaders, including our “liberal” leaders, are going to tell us various things which simply aren’t true.

What explains the score gains in D.C.? We can’t tell you that.

Do the score gains reflect additional learning and skill? On its face, that would be one obvious explanation.

Richard Whitmire believes that explanation. He believes that kids in D.C. actually are learning more. He believes they’re learning more because their schools are improved.

We don’t know enough about D.C. schools to evaluate his claims. But here’s how he started his explanation in last Sunday’s Washington Post:
WHITMIRE: (12/22/13): Allow me to flesh out this story. The first thing to know is that the rapid progress in Washington can be attributed to three school chiefs. Everyone knows about Kaya Henderson, the D.C. schools chancellor, who is so widely admired that she was approached about taking over the New York City schools. Henderson is the kinder, gentler version of controversial former chancellor Michelle Rhee. As a Rhee deputy, Henderson relentlessly championed improving teacher quality. She hasn’t changed.

Then there’s the lesser-known Scott Pearson, who oversees the city’s charter schools, which educate 44 percent of the city’s students. The important thing to know about Pearson: He has relentlessly cleaned up the mess left by the old school board, which approved too many lousy charters. Thanks to his clear accountability system ranking the effectiveness of schools, and his efforts to lure top performers, the District has moved to the top ranks of charter school innovators.
According to Whitmire, the lesser-known Pearson has gotten rid of a bunch of lousy charters.

Is that true? Does it help explain the recent score gains? We don’t know. Nor will you ever see our “liberal” leaders trying to break the wall of propaganda by exploring such claims in a responsible manner. In this age of propaganda, people like Ravitch and Strauss will hand you bogus facts and ridiculous logic, playing the public in the same ways Rush Limbaugh has done in the past.

Back to Whitmire. According to his piece in the Post, “the third key player is Susan Schaeffler,” who “oversees the network of KIPP charter schools in the city, a system that has grown from 80 fifth-graders in 2001 to 3,600 students in neighborhoods that include Anacostia, Shaw and Trinidad.”

“Together, these three leaders have dug the D.C. schools out of a very deep hole,” Whitmire claims.

Is that true? We don’t know—and your various liberal leaders won’t try to help you find out. We live in an age of propaganda, an age of blatantly bogus claims and blatantly broken logic.

A few years ago, Whitmire was a highly sycophantic biographer of Michelle Rhee. We thought his work at that time was quite bad. Concerning last Sunday’s claims, he may be right.

But you will see few attempts to examine and analyze D.C.’s score gains in conventional ways. Instead, the propaganda and bogus claims will continue to flow.

Two cases in point, one from each side of the aisle:

On Friday, the Post published this op-ed column by Margaret Spellings, the former Bush education chief. Assuming even minimal competence, Spellings was clownishly cherry-picking her data—and the Post let her do it.

Due to its deceptive claims, her piece should not have appeared.

On Thursday, NPR’s Morning Edition aired this interview with Linda Darling-Hammond, the Stanford professor. The interview came straight from the land called Low IQ Nation, thanks in large measure to the work of Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, who simply accepted everything his guest said.

Darling-Hammond made some puzzling claims and presentations. Inskeep should have pursued them.

Next week, we’ll examine the column by Spellings and the interview with Darling-Hammond. We live in a truly remarkable world, a world of bungled factual claims and thoroughly bogus illogic.

Does anyone care about the truth? Evidence of such a concern is rather hard to find, especially among the very fine people arrayed on the pseudo left.

Our leaders are all Rush Limbaugh now. We serve as their ditto-heads.

Another puzzling example: Did you see this letter from Randi Weingarten? Next week, we’ll examine it too.

We live in very strange times. We don’t mean that as a compliment.

22 comments:

  1. I specifically wrote to the New York Times to correct the article on NY City test scores by Motoko Rich. I sent the correct scores and the link to the scores, but there was no correction made:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/19/education/new-york-city-students-show-slight-gains-on-test-scores.html

    December 18, 2013

    New York City Students Show Slight Gains on Test Scores
    By AL BAKER and MOTOKO RICH

    LTR

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  2. Another important analysis, the problem being that through the press we are seldom being given careful or properly honest education reporting and this is a glaring problem for so important a topic.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMB (The Pastor continues to palaver while plastered)

    "Valerie Strauss invented a set of ridiculous claims to explain the score gains away."

    Did Valerie engage in the dreaded and often misinterpeted "I" word?
    You know, dear BOBfans. The one misattributed to Al Gore concerning the Internet.

    Did she invent claims? Try reading BOB's post and my comment offered to it in the wee hours of this morning. You will find that even BOB assessed each "claim" Strauss made to be true. Then the real inventor went to work.

    This is the blogger who "claimed" U.S. students outgained Polish students on three tests during a cherry picked period of years. He chose the time frame to mask the fact that US students actually recorded losses, not gains, over a period of years BOB earlier said was the best time frame in which to judge score gains or losses. When it turned out his claim was not true even using his cherry picked time frame, BOB "invented" a new category. He combined the score gains on three separate but not comparable tests on different subjects, then reworded and restated his misleading claim.

    In his recent post on Strauss, BOB employed the same tactic. Strauss said the average score of low income black DC students was below their counterparts in other cities. BOB simply stated the scores of students in each city on one test, placed D.C. students in the middle of the pack on this test, and called her statement "extremely fuzzy" and both true and false. He left out the average urban score to which Strauss referred. And he left out scores on three other tests. On each of the four tests at two grade levels, low income black students in the District of Columbia scored below the average posted by their counterparts in urban schools measured by the NAEP.

    During his service as a blogger BOB takes the initiative to create support for his narrative.

    KZ

    KZ

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  4. In all fairness, Randi Weingarten is the head of a teachers' union. She's not supposed to be unbiased. Any suggestion she makes, supposedly to improve education, should be something that improves the lives of the teachers. Otherwise, she's not doing her job.

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    Replies
    1. Teachers care about more than their own welfare. Unions advocate for changes to benefit students too. We want conditions that will enable us to do our best job.

      Delete
  5. Must read:

    2013 in Review Part 4: Teachers, Unions, and the Best Path Forward by Anthony Cody


    http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/12/2013_in_review_part_4_teachers.html

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    Replies
    1. All four parts were worth a read and thought.

      Delete
  6. "In this age of propaganda, people like Ravitch and Strauss will hand you bogus facts and ridiculous logic, playing the public in the same ways Rush Limbaugh has done in the past."

    "Has done in the past." Blogger is now a neo-confederate AWM and it shows like this from time time to time.

    And "black kids" is invariably racist and "African American" is only a mealy-mouthed way of being racist.

    Some South Asians such as Dinesh DeSouza are blacker than the Ace of Spades and cluster with the very highest achievers.

    There are differences is performance between recent African immigrants, blacks of Caribbean origin (who are in the underclass in Britain the same way as ante-bellum blacks in the US) and blacks who have been here from the slavery days.

    "Black kids" is only a vehicle to express librul-hatred by the blogger.

    "Inner city families without an earning father" is the key to figure out what is causing problems for the US underclass.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Is that true? Does it help explain the recent score gains? We don’t know. Is that true? Does it help explain the recent score gains? We don’t know. Nor will you ever see our “liberal” leaders trying to break the wall of propaganda by exploring such claims in a responsible manner.....

    Back to Whitmire. .....

    Is that true? We don’t know—and your various liberal leaders won’t try to help you find out. We live in an age of propaganda, an age of blatantly bogus claims and blatantly broken logic.

    A few years ago, Whitmire was a highly sycophantic biographer of Michelle Rhee. We thought his work at that time was quite bad. Concerning last Sunday’s claims, he may be right. ....


    Back to Whitmire.....

    “Together, these three leaders have dug the D.C. schools out of a very deep hole,” Whitmire claims.

    Is that true? We don’t know—and your various liberal leaders won’t try to help you find out. We live in an age of propaganda, an age of blatantly bogus claims and blatantly broken logic.

    A few years ago, Whitmire was a highly sycophantic biographer of Michelle Rhee. We thought his work at that time was quite bad. Concerning last Sunday’s claims, he may be right. "

    Back to BOB. Amplifying BOB's repetition, he may be wrong. We just don't know.

    Nor do we know anyone other than BOB who classifies the education reporter for the Washington Post and Diane Ravitch, a former Bush administration official, as "liberal leaders."

    BOB, a breeze of pure clarity and truth stuggling to blow down the wall of propaganda.

    KZ

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  8. I have been trying to figure out what motivates KZ in his ongoing denigration of this blog. What is the nature of the axe he has to grind? I see him frequently written off as a "troll," but what are the specifics as to why he puts the time and energy into reading and then snidely responding to this blog at such length? Why does he take such exception to Bob Somerby?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps he finds Bob a threat to Liberalworld which must be stopped. Maybe he is paid by one of Bob's frequent establishment targets who wnats revenge, Could be he simply finds Bob insufferable. We don't know.

      Delete
    2. My guess is he is an SEC football fan who has as much time on his hands as Somerby.

      Delete
    3. I dom't think it is Bob. I think he must hate black children.

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    4. and Zimmerman.

      Delete
  9. OMB (Whitmire Fever Takes Hold)

    "Do the score gains reflect additional learning and skill? On its face, that would be one obvious explanation.

    Richard Whitmire believes that explanation. He believes that kids in D.C. actually are learning more. He believes they’re learning more because their schools are improved."

    We would love for a BOBfan to peruse Whitmire's panegyric to three school chief's and find a single reference to children learning more or to skill improvement.

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    Replies
    1. Whitmire says that the changes are due to the reforms of a variety of people (who he names). The implication is clearly that these reforms have led to children learning more, and that the score increases are not the result of artifacts (such as demographic shifts) or cheating. Preschool is one of the reforms he mentions as causal. Score increases due to attendance in prekindergarden clearly means more kids are learning more and have improved skills.

      It is excessively literal to demand that Whitmire explicitly state that he believes kids are learning more or have improved skills. It is implied in all of his various causal attributions -- that the reforms imposed by Rhee were effective, for example. If you cannot reason through inference, you cannot read. If you cannot read, you are not sufficiently equipped to comment here without wasting everyone's time.

      Delete
    2. "It is excessively literal to demand that Whitmire explicitly state that he believes kids are learning more or have improved skills."

      Seems to me, our friend is asking for SOMERBY to produce evident from Whitmire that Whitmire said anything remotely resembling what Somerby claimed he said.

      But I guess this is how the game is played around here. When Somerby wishes to hammer any of his favored targets, he resorts to "implications" and how they must be mind readers since their conclusions were never explictly expressed.

      But when Somerby does it himself, well, here rides his faithful sidekick to the rescue, telling us what Whitmire implied exactly what Somerby claimed he said.

      Delete
    3. We believe you could not find any single reference to what BOB says Mr. Whitmire believes.

      We believe we could find a number of instances when BOB criticizes people for mind reading and a number of instances, such as this post, where he is a gifted mind reader.

      BTW, prekindergarten has been in the DC system for decades. It was expanded beginning in 2009. Those first kids benefitting from the expansion would have been in third grade when the NAEP tests BOB and Whitmire are crowing about were given to fourth and eighth graders.

      According to you we must not be able to read. According to the evidence, Whitmire can't count and BOB, as always, doesn't know.

      KZ

      Delete
  10. What's puzzling about Weingarten's letter? It summarizes some of the most important aspects of the debate in a couple of paragraphs. Can anyone give an example of another country which has done better than the US by privatizing? It's true that few if any countries have committed to the approach that has been accepted by a large part of the "reform" movement in the US. But this means that there is no real evidence that this approach could be successful - it's basically just a "theory" which has been accepted as fact. If anything is puzzling in the media-political world of the US it's how things like this can be accepted without evidence of any kind.

    Charter schools, etc. in the US have not produced any of the promised results. It is predictable that almost any new program can show some improvement by selection of students in various ways and other temporary effects such as recruitment of young idealistic teachers who are basically volunteers.

    ReplyDelete