The New York Times, keeping it gloomy: All our test scores are going up—unless you read the New York Times and other major newspapers.
As we’ve long told you, our newspapers report the gaps but hide the gains. To appearances, they mainly exist to recite elite narratives about our allegedly stagnant or failing schools.
Consider a recent example:
In Sunday’s New York Times, Javier Hernandez wrote a long and rambling front-page report about the Common Core. We were struck by this account of the state of our schools as of 2009:
HERNANDEZ (6/15/14): In 2009, when Chrispin was 4 and about to begin kindergarten, education in the United States was at a turning point. Despite decades of investment and experimentation in the school system, American schoolchildren still ranked far behind counterparts in countries like Singapore and Finland on international tests. Education experts were increasingly convinced that the problem was one of low expectations. Many of the highest-performing countries set rigorous national benchmarks. But in America, states traditionally had authority over academic standards. Rigor varied widely, and some states had relaxed requirements after the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, as a way of increasing test scores.Nothing there is technically false. But from that gloomy account, would you have any idea that test scores had been rising for all demographic groups for many years at that point?
Hernandez used the year 2009 as his historical marker. Here are score gains in Grade 8 math on the so-called “Main NAEP,” our most reliable domestic testing program. We start with 1996, the first year which permits a clean comparison with 2009:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, NAEPThe gaps are large between the three groups—but so are the score gains each group recorded over that 13-year span.
By a very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the NAEP scale is often compared to one academic year. As of 2009, black students had gained exactly 21 points over a thirteen-year span.
(You’ll note that they gained almost nine points on white kids during that period.)
Twenty-one points! That’s a very large score gain, but so what? In line with mandated scripts, mainstream journalists will always report the gaps, but they’ll suppress the gains. Following that prescription, Hernandez created a portrait of gloom, tied to the year 2009.
Let’s run through his gloomy portrait:
First, we’re told that “education in the United States was at a turning point” in 2009. As a basic starting point, that doesn’t sound very good.
Next, we’re told that, despite our investments in education, American kids “still ranked far behind counterparts in countries like Singapore and Finland on international tests” in 2009.
That is technically accurate. But Finland and Singapore are small, anomalous countries which aren’t much like the United States. Despite our demographic complexity, Americans kids were matching or outscoring their counterparts in many of the larger developed nations by 2009, especially on the TIMSS and the PIRLS.
Still, we were being outscored by Finland! Instantly, Hernandez added this:
“Education experts were increasingly convinced that the problem was one of low expectations.”
This creates the sense that we were basically confronting a “problem” as of 2009. As always, a highly selective presentation had created a sense of gloom.
Question: As of 2009, were American schools at a turning point? Were they basically confronting a problem?
That portrait is hard to square with those score gains on the NAEP. Rewriting Hernandez, this account would also be perfectly accurate:
HERNANDEZ REWRITTEN: In 2009, when Chrispin was 4 and about to begin kindergarten, education in the United States was looking up in many respects. During decades of investment and experimentation in the school system, test scores for American students had been rising, in substantial ways, in all demographic groups.That account would also be accurate! But in newspapers like the New York Times, an obvious rule obtains:
American schoolchildren still ranked far behind their counterparts in “Asian tigers” like Korea and Japan on international tests. But so did all the other large non-Asian nations.
Despite the rising scores, education experts were increasingly convinced that performance could get even better. Many of the highest-performing countries set rigorous national benchmarks. But in America, states traditionally had authority over academic standards. Rigor varied widely, and some states had relaxed requirements after the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act...
All accounts of our public schools must be profoundly gloomy. Gaps and shortfalls will be discussed. Score gains must be disappeared.
This week, we’re concluding the series we’ve called, “Our month of the gaps.” That said, we’ve begged journalists for years to report our very large score gains.
Mainstream journalists refuse to do so—as do the “intellectual leaders” of the liberal/progressive world. Your latest example is Nikole Hannah-Jones, she of “Segregation Now...” with its “apartheid schools.”
Look at the score gains achieved by black students over that 13-year period! But according to Hannah-Jones, that was the era of “resegregation,” when everything went to Hell for the nation’s hapless black kids.
It’s against the law to tell the truth about the achievements of our black kids! May heaven protect our low-income kids from the work of our adult elites.
For all NAEP data: For all NAEP data, just click here. Click MAIN NDE, then agree to terms.
From there, you're on your own.