The year of living propagandistically!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

Strauss pulls a Rhee at the Post: In many ways, this has been the year of living propagandistically.

It has been the year when liberal entities followed Fox and Rush and Sean down a wormhole of bogus claims and propagandistic misrepresentations.

This has been especially true when it comes to public schools. Consider this recent post by the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss.

Strauss became an education reporter at the Post in 1994. Since 2009, she has been writing The Answer Sheet, an education blog.

In her recent post, Strauss discusses, or pretends to discuss, the new NAEP scores recorded by the Washington, D.C. schools. In the case of D.C., this can be am especially tricky task, for the following reasons:

As of now, 44 percent of D.C. students attend charter schools. These schools are public schools, of course. But the large number of charters can make the task of reporting D.C. test scores a bit complex.

For a “liberal” like Strauss, the recent rise in D.C. test scores presents a dual problem:

We liberals don’t want to say that the large score gains have come from the District’s charter schools. On an ideological basis, charters are known to be bad.

On the other hand, we don’t want to say the score gains came from the District’s non-charter public schools. Under chancellor Kaya Henderson, those schools still operate in accord with Michelle Rhee’s “reform” principles.

For a liberal propagandist, there’s no good way to report the score gains which have occurred in the District. As a result, Strauss adopted a gloomy point of view about the District’s gains—a point of view she advanced with a set of claims which are disgracefully clueless.

This is how Strauss begins her post. We include her dismissive headlines:
STRAUSS (12/18/13): What does rise in D.C. test scores really mean? Not much.

Public schools in D.C. just saw larger gains on 2013 math and reading tests on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—which is sometimes called “the nation’s report card”—than any other major urban school system in the country. Impressive, right? Well, maybe not so much.

[...]

The test score gains were impressive on the face of it: five points in fourth-grade reading, eight points in eighth-grade reading, seven points in fourth-grade math and five points in eighth-grade math.

But consider this:
As Strauss notes, D.C. recorded large score gains this year. This year’s scores are substantially higher than those from 2011, when the NAEP was last given.

Strauss proceeded to tell the world why those gains don’t mean much. Below, you see a set of four bullet points.

You also see an example of appalling journalism. Assuming minimal competence on Strauss’ part, what follows is pure propaganda:
STRAUSS (continuing directly): But consider this:

*NAEP scores for D.C. public schools have been going up for a decade, well before Michelle Rhee became chancellor in 2007 and began the test-based school reforms that her successor, Kaya Henderson, has continued.

*DCPS still has the nation’s widest achievement gaps between white and black students and white and Hispanic students than any other big urban school district. Here are the percentages of fourth-grade students who scored high enough to be labeled “proficient” in reading, which in NAEP terms is high: 78 percent for whites, 26 percent for Hispanics and 13 percent for blacks.

*Poor black D.C. students score lower, on average, than their counterparts in other cities.

*White D.C. students are generally more affluent than black and Hispanic students. And the city has seen some demographic changes in the last decade in which the proportion of white fourth-graders...has tripled, and the proportion of black students fell from 87 percent to 67 percent.
Strauss’ first bullet point is accurate and perfectly apt. As we ourselves have often noted, scores were rising in D.C. before Michelle Rhee hit the scene.

Strauss’ next three bullet points constitute an intellectual disgrace. Let’s run through them in order:

“DCPS still has the nation’s widest achievement gaps between white and black students?”

That’s true, and everybody knows why it’s true: D.C.’s white student population comes from a very high socioeconomic background. No other city (or state) has a comparable white student population.

Those students produce extremely high test scores. By a large margin, they outscore the white student populations of every state, including high-flying Massachusetts.

Those high test scores produce D.C.’s unusually large achievement gaps. If Strauss is even minimally competent, she is being baldly dishonest when she cites those gaps as evidence that the District’s recent score gains “don’t mean much.”

This point will become more clear below, when we look at the score gains recorded in recent years by D.C.’s black students.

“Poor black D.C. students score lower, on average, than their counterparts in other cities?”

This extremely fuzzy statement is true—but it’s also false! The District's low-income black kids score below their peers in some cities—but they outscore their low-income peers in quite a few other cities.

Assuming minimal competence, that statement is extremely fuzzy because Strauss doesn’t want to lay out the facts.

Below, you see average scores for Grade 8 math by low-income black students. We’re providing the scores for the twenty cities which took part in the NAEP Trial Urban District study and had a sufficient sample of black students.

For reasons you will quickly discern, we’re presenting D.C.’s average scores three different ways. If you count all the District’s public schools, charters and non-charters alike, D.C.’s low-income black kids scored right in the middle on Grade 8 math as compared to their counterparts in the other cities:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2013 NAEP
Low-income black students only

Boston 269
Houston 267
Charlotte 266
Washington DC (charter schools) 266
Austin 261
New York City 261
Dallas 260
Tampa (Hillsborough County) 260
Atlanta 258
Washington DC (all schools) 257
Chicago 257
Miami 257
Baltimore 256
Philadelphia 255
San Diego 253
Los Angeles 252
Louisville (Jefferson County) 252
Washington DC (non-charter schools) 249
Cleveland 249
Fresno 246
Milwaukee 245
Detroit 235
None of those average scores are “good.” Certainly, none of those scores are good enough. But if you consider all D.C. schools, charters and non-charters alike, D.C.’s low-income black kids scored in the middle on Grade 8 math as compared to their peers.

Is that the impression you would have gotten from Strauss' statement, which was extremely fuzzy?

D.C.’s black kids scores in the middle. Given this city’s traditional standing, that represents a very strong improvement. That performance “doesn’t mean much” if you don’t care about D.C.’s black kids. Or if your ideology is more important than telling people the truth.

Strauss’ last bullet-point is especially disingenuous. She notes the influx of affluent white students into the D.C. schools in recent years. Her suggestion is clear—this influx means that D.C.’s score gains “don’t mean much.”

In one sense, that is accurate. In part, D.C.’s aggregate scores have gone up because of the influx of these affluent students.

But if Strauss is even minimally competent, she knows how to “disaggregate” test scores! She knows how to review the scores of black kids on their own.

Below, you see what Strauss failed, or refused, to tell readers about. You see the scores, and score gains, recorded by D.C.’s low-income black students:
Average scores, Washington, D.C., Grade 8 math
All schools, low-income black students only

2013: 257
2011: 252
2009: 245
2007: 241
2005: 238
On their face, those are very large gains—and those average scores are not being inflated by the scores of high-income white kids.

On their face, those score gains represents very good news, if you actually give a rip about D.C.’s black kids. Assuming even minimal competence, Strauss surely understands that.

Strauss has one more complaint about D.C.’s score gains. This passage is pitiful too:
STRAUSS (continuing directly from above): D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson understandably wants the credit for the test score rise to go to her administration’s reform policies, which include evaluating teachers by student test scores. But she can’t really know that that is the reason. In fact, data Brown received shows that black students in the city’s public charter schools overall did better than black students in the traditional public school system.
One part of that passage is certainly true. No one can say exactly why these score gains have occurred. And as we noted earlier, score gains were occurring in D.C. before the tenure of Rhee and Henderson, Rhee’s assistant and now her successor.

That said, note the statement we’ve highlighted. “In fact, data Brown received shows that black students in the city’s public charter schools overall did better than black students in the traditional public school system?”

Good God.

Strauss refers to Post reporter Emma Brown, who did the paper’s puzzling news report about D.C.’s new scores. According to Strauss, Brown “received data” which show that black kids in D.C.’s charters scored better than their counterparts in the city’s non-charters.

Are those really “data Brown received?” Thanks to the National Center for Education Statistics, tose data are available on-line for everyone in the world to review! (Start here, continue clicking.) And yes, black kids did score better in the charters, as we’ve shown you above.

In the ridiculous phrase we’ve quoted, we get a hint that Strauss may not be minimally competent. But note the disingenuous nature of her complaint about those two sets of scores:

Every liberal knows the script about charter schools, and there is merit to that script. Whenever a charter school achieves decent scores, we liberals correctly note that charter schools are able, at least in theory, to siphon off more motivated students from a school system’s non-charters. (This is often called “creaming.”)

Presumably, this process explains some or all of that difference in scores in the District. D.C. kids who have gone to the charters are probably more motivated, on average, than the kids who stayed behind.

In other situations, someone like Strauss would instantly note this possibility. In this case, she wants to say that D.C.’s score gains in D.C. don’t mean much.

She wants to knock the D.C. schools. Toward that end, all facts will be cherry-picked, all logic will be perverted.

For the record, even as very large numbers of kids have been siphoned off by D.C.’s charters, scores have been rising in D.C.’s non-charters too. This is what the scores look like for low-income black kids who didn’t go into the charters:
Average scores, Washington, D.C., Grade 8 math
Non-charter schools, low-income black students only

2013: 249
2011: 243
2009: 239
2007: 235
Why have those scores gone up? We can’t tell you that. But those scores haven’t been inflated by an influx of high-income students, white or black. And those gains have been occurring even as the charters have siphoned off a big chunk of the student population.

What explains the score gains we have detailed here? We can’t tell you that; reasonable skepticism is always appropriate. But it’s appalling to see Strauss try to fudge these gains away in such disingenuous ways.

Assuming even minimal competence, Strauss’ post is a journalistic disgrace. We’d have to say she’s “done a Rhee.”

Here’s what we mean by that:

When Michelle Rhee came to D.C., her resume included ridiculous claims about her own brilliant teaching career. That very first week, we noted how absurd her claims seemed to be, and we made an obvious statement:

It’s appalling to see someone build her career on false claims about a bunch of low-income city kids.

Strauss does the same thing in this post. Assuming even minimal competence, that post is appalling—baldly dishonest. Let’s summarize the facts:

Across all the schools of the District, the average score of low-income black kids has risen by 19 points in Grade 8 math over the past eight years. It takes a special type of ideologue to say that “doesn’t mean much,” especially when her analyses are so clownishly illogical.

Three of Strauss’ bullet points make no sense at all. Her additional point (the charters score higher!) is pitifully weak tea too.

You really have to hate black kids to be willing to lie about them so much! In this year of living propagandistically, Strauss’ post helps show the way the “liberal” world has followed Fox and Rush and Sean deep down into the toilet.

Where you can get NAEP data: There’s no easy way to access these data. In part, that’s because the NCES has done a clumsy job with the complexities of D.C., which has a lot of charter schools and is sometimes treated as a state.

If you want to examine the data, click here, then click on MAIN NDE (Main NAEP Data Explorer). Click on, "I agree to the terms above." From there, you’re on your own.

For the reasons we have cited, D.C. data are quite tricky. You’ll have to teach yourself how to find them. We think our data are all accurate, but we’re willing to be corrected. In the particular case of D.C., the NCES has made this process unnecessarily confusing.

That said, Strauss’ treatment of those score gains is a disgrace, an obvious undisguised joke. The influx of white kids doesn’t inflate the average scores of black kids. The achievement gap doesn’t mean that black kids’ score gains don't count.

Charters are draining off lots of kids, but scores in non-charters are going up too. And D.C.’s black kids are outscoring their counterparts in quite a few cities. Why didn’t Strauss simply state that fact? Why did she offer an absurdly fuzzy statement which seemed to suggest something worse?

Who would toy with black kids this way? Answer:

In an age of living propagandistically, logic and facts will be sacrificed to a far nobler cause.

This sort of thing happens a lot: Sadly, pathetically, this sort of thing happens a lot.

Less than two weeks ago, Diane Ravitch made a ridiculous statement about the D.C. schools:
RAVITCH (12/10/13): Despite its recent gains on the 2013 NAEP, the District of Columbia is not a national model.

It remains the lowest performing urban district in the nation.
At the time, we asked an obvious question: Why would Ravitch say that?

At that time, the full data weren’t available from the 2013 NAEP. But even on the 2011 NAEP, it was clear that D.C. wasn’t the lowest performing urban district, not even among the twenty districts available for review.

Assuming Ravitch writes her own books, she already knew that. Here’s what she wrote in Reign of Error, which appeared in August:
RAVITCH (page 154): Looking at NAEP scores, we know for certain that Rhee didn’t turn it into the highest-performing urban district in the nation. Its students still have low scores on the no-stakes federal assessment. It remains in the bottom group of urban districts along with Atlanta, Baltimore City, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Fresno, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Philadelphia (Atlanta is in the bottom tier in mathematics but not in reading).
That account was very weak in a wide range of ways. But in her book, Ravitch didn’t claim that D.C. was the “lowest performing” district even as of the 2011 NAEP.

D.C. was in “the bottom group,” she said. To establish her claim, she placed D.C. in a group of ten cities, out of only twenty cities involved in the NAEP urban study.

In December, the nation learned that D.C. had recorded large score gains on the 2013 NAEP. For unknown reasons, Ravitch proceeded to drop a bomb. She claimed that D.C. was the lowest performing district, even after its large gains.

Why did Ravitch say that? By now, with additional data released, we can see just how absurd that statement actually was.

In many ways, this has been the year of living propagandistically. For decades, these practices came to us from the right—from Rush, from Sean, from the Fox News Channel, from the gong-show world of talk radio.

Increasingly, the absurd misstatements now come from our own. Assuming even minimal competence, Strauss’ post was an utter disgrace.

Whatever her various merits may be, Ravitch remains a puzzling fount of propagandistic misstatement. Can this really be the best the liberal world has to offer?

24 comments:

  1. Great post! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

    A key advantage or charter schools is that they provide a choice to individual students. Whether or no charter schools are better, they provide an alternative for a student who may be in a bad situation in her public school.

    When my older daughter was in 4th grade, her personal public school situation was awful, so we moved her to private school for 3 years. I don't know whether this private school was better than the public schools in general, but it was better for my daughter at this particular time. Charter schools provide a similar opportunity to parents who cannot afford private schools.

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    1. Setting aside your daughter's situation, which I obviously know nothing about, I am a troubled by the idea that the best way to deal with a child's school problems may be to change schools. I think it would be better to have a conference with the teacher and try to find a solution, working together. That teaches kids that problems can be overcome and models skills for doing so.

      Changing schools can be disruptive for kids because they lose friends, have to figure out how things are done in a new environment, and must adjust to an unfamiliar teacher and different expectations, on top of whatever struggles with content or social skills existed at the old school.

      What bothers me most about switching schools at will is the implication that it is the school that is the problem, not even the teacher (because there are usually several alternative teachers at a grade level within a school). It seems akin to cutting off your foot because of a blister on your heel. Further, it exemplifies running from problems instead of trying to solve them. There are adults who shop for new doctors, dentists, car mechanics, salons, new homes and new jobs, even spouses, switching whenever a difficulty arises because they have no skills for solving problems.

      I see charter schools as holding out promise of a miraculous change that will make kids into different kids and make their problems disappear. But that is a fantasy.

      The main exception I see is when a child is being bullied or has engaged in some behavior that damages his or her social standing and needs a fresh start, or when schools are truly substandard -- but then why would community members not be trying to improve them? Abandoning them for private or charter schools abandons the children who cannot afford private school tuition or whose parents are unable to intervene in their education. Our commitment to improving public schools should operate on behalf of all kids, not private solutions for fortunate individual children.

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    2. I don't disagree with you, Anon. We were philosophically committed to public schools, so we didn't decide lightly to move her to a private school We did speak to the teacher and to the principal as well, but my daughter's particular situation couldn't be fixed within that public school at that time. We moved her back to public schools when the school situation changed in a way that would work better for her.

      Delete
  2. OMB

    Lousy post. Happy hypocrisy. We'll be reviewing and commenting on it all the way over the river and through the woods before leaving your sprawling planet for Christmas in Doom, a place where we have no Baby Jesus to worship but as adoring a following as BOB has in these
    commentary threads.

    We'll start with a simple observation and one question.

    We notice that in this post BOB eschews presentation of data from the NAEP to the hundreth decimal place. In fact, we notice now that BOB never presented data from NAEP to the hundredth decimal place that we can find until he wanted to savage claims of score gains made by the NYTimes. Perhaps he has done it before, but it is rare.

    Our question relates to the data presented. Using eighth grade math scores certainly helps sell BOB's narrative of the propaganda aim of the WaPo reporter. But why were scores for only one test and only one grade used? Given BOB's track record of falsely reporting test gains comparing the US to Poland, a record which included inventing a category of comparison nobody ever has used, we think this question is one for fans of education statistics to ponder over the yule log as they lament this terrible year of liberal decay.

    KZ

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    1. "a place where we have no Baby Jesus to worship but as adoring a following as BOB has..."

      Happy holidays and try not to catch cold in your swaddling cloths.

      Delete
    2. the hundredth decimal place?

      Uh, huh. What was your score on the NAEP math exam?

      [W]hy were scores for only one test and only one grade used?

      Because TDH quotes Strauss for all the scores ("five points in fourth-grade reading, eight points in eighth-grade reading, seven points in fourth-grade math and five points in eighth-grade math") and he only needs one counterexample to falsify her general claim of doom.

      TDH's "false" reports of test comparison bewteen the US and Finland and his invention of a "category of comparison" are figments of your imagination.

      Bah!

      Delete
    3. No my rodent in the after life, BOB's invention of a category of comparison is not a figment of my imagination, and his false report involved not Finland, but Poland, In fact, his invention of a category of comparison came in an attempt to cover for his Strauss-like utterance of a false statement, after we called him on that false statement in commentary. BOB likes to glory in past discovery of errors by himself. We will not relive ours. It can, however, be summoned up if further challenged by someone who likes to claim others have low reading comprehension. We recall it occurred early on in what became BOB's ritual beating of the dead horse which was the long series on Amanda Ripley's book.

      KZ

      PS: As a BOBdefender, we suggest you avoid stating it is only necessary to uncover one error to unravel the whole.
      Your favorite blogger is easily discredited himself using such standards. And one set of scores from one test of one grade level does not, we would note, discredit anything Ms. Strauss wrote.

      Delete
    4. Finland, Poland. Does it make a difference out to the hundredth decimal place?

      I assume you mean "BOB likes to glory in his discovery of the errors of others." What you wrote, (Freudianly, of course) was that BOB likes to glory in his own errors, but you won't do the same. So you made up some bullshit about Poland (Did I get the -land ending country right?) and fictional categories. But you won't revisit your howlers. Apparently, that's my job, a punishment for writing Fin- when I should have written Po-.

      Sorry, it's your bullshit; you carry it.

      One set of test scores is what's called an example. The rest were given in by Ms Strauss herself as quoted by TDH. One example wouldn't necessarily discredit Ms Strauss, yet the blog entry nevertheless does a pretty good job of that.

      Go figure.

      Delete
    5. One set of test scores is not necessarily an example, deadrodent. Not when that one set of test scores is used because BOB is cherry picking, lying, then making false statements implying others are lying. But it gets worse. See new comment below.

      KZ

      KZ

      Delete
  3. Terrific analysis, just terrific.

    LTR

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  4. Hey KZ - merry Xmas and happy liberal decay to you.

    Lets rejoin battle next year (or after Xmas) and try to keep the librul-hunter honest.

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    Replies
    1. Better yet, why not start the new year at a new blog and make other people unhappy instead?

      Delete
    2. Inviting people to leave reminds me of the "Love it or Leave It" stickers which appeared as a reaction to the opposition movement during the Vietnamese War Against Imperialist Aggression. (Which is, of course the first sign of proof of Somerby's assertion that 60's liberalism among Boomers led to Reagan.)

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    3. Dressing up annoying troll behavior as some sort of protest makes no sense. The complaints would have to be coherent for that, and they are not. Just spiteful.

      Delete
  5. Why have black kids' scores been improving? Maybe because of the most important story this year: the phase-out of leaded gasoline in the 1970s.

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  6. Black kids scores have been improving as more and more of them enter the middle classes, I imagine.

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    Replies
    1. Can't be because of anything those creepy teachers have been doing.

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    2. It's all because of what the teachers are doing, but they can't do it alone.

      Delete
  7. OMB (The Year of Living Hypocritically)

    All year we have been treated to BOB outraged at his imaginary "Liberalworld". He has provided post after post of BOBarailing and Bobaranting against instances in which he finds examples of liberals inappropriately dropping what he calls the R bomb.

    Then he bids us happy holidays with this little R bomb from his own angry wrinkled white backside:

    "You really have to hate black kids to be willing to lie about them so much!"

    And who, perchance is he accusing of lying? Better yet, who is he accusing of really hating black kids? Has to be Strauss. Perhaps Emma Brown as well?

    In no instance has BOB demonstrated that Strauss has lied about anything. He tries to demonstrate that Strauss's bullet points about why test score gains in D.C.schools may not be meaningful are themselves not meaningful. But in no instance has he demonstrated they are untrue. In fact, lets rate them one by one, in BOB's own words.

    Strauss point one: "accurate and perfectly apt"

    Strauss point two: "That's true"

    Strauss point three: "This extremely fuzzy statement is true" (We didn't forget BOB also called it false in the same sentence. We will come back to this later.)

    Strauss point four: "In one sense that is accurate." (In no sense does he ever show anything inaccuarate about her bullet point in any sense whatsoever.)

    Then the BOBster launches a rant against Strauss and Brown for stating black kids in charter schools outperformed black kids in what is left of the D.C. centrally administered public schools, despite the fact that " yes, black kids did score better in the charters".

    Strauss lays out four bullet points and makes another assertion. All, according to BOB himself, are true. None, based on anything BOB presents in this post, are false. BOB obviously feels she came to the wrong conclusion with her four accurate bullet points and presentation about charter versus traditional school scores among black pupils.

    But did anything constitue a lie that proves she or anyone else hates black children?

    BOMBS AWAY BIG BOBfella. You have become the Salonista you deplore.

    Coming: More on Point Three

    KZ

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  8. OMB (Picking Fuzzy Cherries in BOBworld)

    The bulk of BOB's Christmas R BOMB is based on presentations he makes using 8th grade math scores by lower income black students in the District of Columbia schools.

    We won't say BOB lies in his presentation. The figures seem "accurate and perfectly apt." You also see an example of appalling journalism. Assuming minimal competence on BOB's’ part, what follows is pure propaganda.

    Strauss writes: "Poor black D.C. students score lower, on average, than their counterparts in other cities.”

    BOB responds: "This extremely fuzzy statement is true—but it’s also false! The District's low-income black kids score below their peers in some cities—but they outscore their low-income peers in quite a few other cities."

    Bob's demonstrates contempt for his readers by calling a simple declaration "fuzzy." Perhaps it is how he views your brains, BOBfans. He uses this adjective over and over, and to make sure you get the point, he calls it extremely fuzzy, just so you are sure to get it.
    But he also calls it both true and false, a bit of fuzzification on BOB's part if you don't mind us borrowing a snippet of his cuddly, furry language.

    Then we get the first wave of the veritable Bobalanche of 8th grade math scores of black students disaggregated by eligibility for federal free and reduced lunch.

    You know what BOB leaves out of that first table? The average score of low income black kids in urban schools nationally. It is a fuzzy thing to omit. In fact. its exteremely fuzzy, because Strauss's sentnece is not fuzzy at all. It is clear as a bell. Extremely clear. As clear as a smooth, glass bell. She says D.C. low income black students score below the average of their counterparts in other cities. Not just on 8th grade math. Not just in some cities or most cities. "On average."

    BOBfans, the average score of the urban districts on 8th grade math cited by BOB for low income black students is 258. For D.C. according to BOB it was 257. It may only be a point below. That may not be statistically significant. But it is below.

    Guess what else? D.C. low income black students were below the urban district average for their counterparts in 8th grade reading also,
    by 3 points. They were below in 4th grade math by 3 points and in 4th grade reading by 6 points. But according to BOB, Strauss is extremely fuzzy and both true and false.

    Of course nothing BOB says in his presentation of data is false. It is just very Straussian. Extremely Straussian. Rheely!

    Yep, 8th grade math scores were the best of the cherries BOB could pick to play out his narrative. Makes us wonder what would happen if we used the other three tests to flesh out every other point made by BOB using those 8th grade math scores from D.C.

    Is BOB's larger point about Strauss using data selectively to feed a narrative or agenda correct? Could be. Is BOB right about the fantastic gains of black kids being overlooked? Could be. We only know his first presentation of data to make his point rings as something along the lines of manipulation to make a point of his own rather than as pure truth.

    That said, we present our last play on BOB's own words.

    You really have to hate white women reporters to be willing to lie about them so much!

    KZ

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  9. KZ, statements get clearer if one adds quantifiers, like "some" or "all". Consider four statements, all referring to 8th grade math scores:

    1. DC's low-income black kids score below their peers in some cities.
    2. DC's low-income black kids score above their peers in some cities.
    3. DC's low-income black kids score below their peers in all cities.
    4. DC's low-income black kids score below their peers.

    #1 is true. #2 is true. #3 is false. #4 is neither true nor false, because it lacks a quantifier, so it's ambiguous. Bob's "both true and false" was his way of pointing out this ambiguity.

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    1. Sorry David in Cal, the statement is not ambiguous to anyone except people who lack familiarity with NCES data. BOB does not fall into that category. Strauss was clearly comparing DC scores to the urban district average. It is available with a single click. BOB knows this. It shows her statement to be totally true. No ifs, ands, or buts. That is why he included scores from each urban district tested and scored in the NAEP. He left out the average. Along with scores from three other tests. That way BOB could call her statement fuzzy when he was the one playing games with the numbers.

      BOB is not like the hypocritical minister railing aginst the woes and evils of Demon Rum from the pulpit while
      secretly visiting the tavern on Friday night. BOB is ranting
      about the evils of drink while drunk on the pulpit.

      KZ

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