At the Times, everyone pitches in: It’s fascinating to watch the way Standard Misinformation spreads.
At our big newspapers, Standard Misinformation may spread through the letters column. Consider the letters in today’s New York Times about the so-called Common Core.
Five letters appear on this subject. Each of the first three letters spreads a atandard piece of apparent misinformation.
The second letter comes from a doctoral student studying educational policy. At one point, the future professor says this:
SECOND LETTER (4/23/14): The era of accountability and choice is fading as curriculum and instruction come into greater focus. Through a strengthening of curriculum, standards and teacher practice, we may finally improve student performance. While hardly a panacea, the Common Core may help us examine more closely what we teach and how we teach it.Say what? We may finally improve student performance?
Our most reliable testing data have been strongly improving for decades. That said, it’s plainly against the law to report this fact in the Times.
Letters to the New York Times will often convey the opposite impression, which is Standard Lore among our press corps “elite.”
Our basic test scores are massively better—but readers of the Times can’t be told! Indeed, today’s third letter conveys the same sad-sack impression:
THIRD LETTER: Speaking of a “circus,” how about addressing the elephant in the room, which is that the Common Core standards have never been tested. No one disputes the fact that our educational system is broken. But what I find disturbing is that the same people who are trying to raise the rigor of our nation’s academics based on metrics have developed a program without that same standard.Say what? “No one disputes the fact that our educational system is broken?”
In reality, many people dispute that fact, starting with Diane Ravitch, to cite one well-known example.
That said, the notion that the system is broken is Standard Elite Press Corps Cant. For that reason, this notion is widely asserted in letters, despite the large score gains Ravitch describes in her current book.
Thanks to our ratty teachers and their unions, our public schools are an unholy mess! This is Standard Elite Press Corps Cant. It was most directly stated in today’s first letter, which came from an associate professor and two of her graduate students:
FIRST LETTER: The emphasis is on the politics of the Common Core standards in “As G.O.P. Wedge, the Common Core Cuts Both Ways” (front page, April 20) and David Brooks’s column “When the Circus Descends” (April 18). Let’s focus instead on the policy’s substantive problems.Say what? High school achievement hasn’t improved, according to data from the National Assessment of Education Progress?
First, decades of standards-based reforms have not improved high school achievement, according to trend data from the National Assessment of Education Progress. Therefore, the Common Core’s pledge to graduate all students “college and career ready” rests on wordplay, not reality.
The professor is perhaps being a bit selective. She refers to scores by 17-year-olds on the NAEP’s Long Term Trend Assessment.
Even there, scores are up in the past few decades, once you disaggregate to adjust for changing student demographics. But due to changing drop-out rates, those NAEP scores are the hardest to assess.
Among 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds, the score gains have been very large in recent decades. Example: Among the nation’s 9-year-old black kids, average scores rose by 34 points in math from 1982 through 2012.
(Click here, scroll to page 38.)
By normal rules of thumb on the NAEP, those are gigantic score gains. Note the minor statistical adjustment in 2004.
“Through a strengthening of curriculum, standards and teacher practice, we may finally improve student performance!”
That’s what you read in today’s New York Times, where Standard Misinformation is spread through all available forums.
Important procedural point: Career liberals don’t give a rat’s asp about our public schools or their ratty teachers or students. That’s why you see so little pushback or clarification concerning these endless claims.