FROM "THE LETTERS" FILE: Digest of last week's reports!

MONDAY, JANUARY 6, 2020

Starting tomorrow, Tales of the Naep :
On Sunday, December 22, the New York Times published nine letters about two recent "test score" reports.

The first eight letters all affirmed a bogus premise which had emerged from those reports—a highly familiar though bogus premise about our allegedly floundering public schools.

The letter writers all affirmed what they had read in the paper of record. No one cited the actual data. But so it quite routinely goes within our floundering discourse:
Tuesday, December 31: Fabulous Finland had to be praised! An embarrassment of letters.

Wednesday, January 1:
Eight letters offered seven solutions—but does the problem exist?

Thursday, January 2:
Defining the actual shape of our problem! (American kids punk the world.)

Friday, January 3:
Those letters endorsed a treasured old tale—and disguised the actual problem.
Starting tomorrow, we start our "year of living anthropologically" with one last set of reports on the public schools, Tales of the Naep.

We'll examine last month's Times report about rising Naep scores in Mississippi. As we do, we'll start defining a new paradigm, one we'll recommend to you all this year.

Amazingly, the New York Times' ninth letter-writer blew the whistle on a remarkable act of journalistic misfeasance concerning Mississippi's Naep scores. Such things are almost never done within our failing discourse!

Meanwhile, other puzzling errors were being voiced about the Naep. But so it quite routinely goes within our failed public discourse!

Starting tomorrow, we'll offer several accurate "Tales of the Naep." We'll also begin to suggest that you internalize some anthropological basics, starting with this paradigm-breaker:
Everything you read or hear will likely be bogus or wrong.
Tomorrow: No progress since the 1980s, one blogger oddly said

Later today: #GoldenGlobesbellyachingsoamazinglybogus

23 comments:

  1. "Everything you read or hear will likely be bogus or wrong."

    Heh. Great discovery, einstein. And what else is new, dear Bob?

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    Replies
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      Delete
  2. "Everything you read or hear will likely be bogus or wrong."

    Vicious and contemptible deliberately destructive nihilism. You're an enemy of the human species - luckily, a laughably ineffectual enemy.

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  3. NAEP scores are a measurement. They measure school performance (not individual student performance) on a specific set of tasks.

    No measure is entirely accurate. There is always (ALWAYS) a gap between the measurement tool and the thing being measured.

    Somerby refers to "puzzling errors" in NAEP -- today, without telling us what he considers those to be. Some errors are so egregious that they make it impossible to measure at all. Some are negligible and we overlook them in order to make a consistent reliable measurement, knowing as we do so, that no measure is perfect and that the measurement is not the thing itself.

    Somerby throws a tantrum because any "errors" exist. He behaves as if the errors made it impossible to make any measurement at all. He keeps suggesting that journalists and others focus on the errors and not the performance.

    He is like a parent with the habit of measuring a child's growth each year, who throws up his hands in despair because the yardstick is imperfect, not the same as the one in the vaults at the National Institutes of Standards and Measures. He doesn't appear capable of seeing whether the imperfections in a test make the test unusable or are merely part of the "error" or variance that exists in any measurement.

    Is Somerby a nihilist? Obviously. But he is also a neophyte when it comes to testing and a one-trick pony when it comes to reporting on "errors". I agree with Randall that this approach is destructive. He would have us sitting in our caves without benefit of wheel, because the ones created were imperfectly round.

    Meanwhile, who advances the postmodern idea that there is no truth? Not liberals. That is a conservative meme, a cynical, nasty, destructive (as Randall notes) idea that is used to justify lying and manipulation by politicians. And here we see Somerby advancing conservative memes again. Just like Papa Putin pays him to do.

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    1. TDH has been writing about NAEP for almost two decades, and I’ve been reading his obsessive blog entries for almost as long. I have never read a single entry in which TDH complains that the NAEP is itself so faulty that it cannot provide a “consistent reliable measurement” or that NAEP errors make it “impossible to make any measurement at all.”

      Of course, there’s a first time for everything, and perhaps in his upcoming blog entries, TDH will start complaining about NAEP itself, but all of his past writing concerns the reporting on and public discussion about the test.

      Let me ask a few idle questions, Anonymous Ignoramus @11:27A: are you simply so clueless that you don’t understand what TDH writes about? Or are you willfully ignorant, or are you deliberately lying?

      You say,

      Somerby refers to "puzzling errors" in NAEP -- today, without telling us what he considers those to be.

      That’s simply false, as is easily shown. The “puzzling errors” that TDH refers to are about the ones that “were being voiced about the Naep.” (Emphasis mine.), not about the test itself. TDH’s complaints are about reporting failures about NAEP and widespread misunderstanding of what NAEP tells us.

      Far from advancing some “postmodern idea” that there is no truth that NAEP can tell about the US educational system, TDH writes obsessively about the racial gaps the test reveals. He often gives an equivalence between points on the test and academic years, noting that the statistic is a “rough” rule of thumb.

      TDH may be wrong about his views on the journalistic treatment of NAEP, and he may be wrong (as the Anonymi Ignorami constantly clamor) not to offer solutions to the problems he cites. But that’s different.

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    2. @deadrat
      He doesn’t need to offer solutions
      himself. But perhaps he could discuss the ideas and the solutions that are out there, and measure them by his own experiences as a teacher and as someone who has written about this for so long? Why choose education reporting as a specific topic to revisit constantly if you don’t have any ideas about education? His lack of discussion of methods doesn’t lead one to infer that he is actually interested in education.

      As an example, why not spend some time looking into Hanford’s “science of reading”/phonics, and report on the media discussions about that, rather than making the criticism purely about naep results? He might have to stray outside of the Times or the Post occasionally, but that would be welcome. It would still be a survey of media reports, with an occasional glance at some relevant research. That would be a better use of his time and his platform than constantly repeating that no one cares, and then ignoring the people who do.

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    3. But perhaps he could discuss the ideas and the solutions that are out there,….

      Yes, perhaps he could.

      Why choose education reporting as a specific topic to revisit constantly if you don’t have any ideas about education?

      I don’t know the answer to that as I’m not the Howler Whisperer. Perhaps he’s interested only in the reporting about education.

      His lack of discussion of methods doesn’t lead one to infer that he is actually interested in education.

      A fair inference.

      He might have to stray outside of the Times or the Post occasionally, but that would be welcome.

      To whom? People in his commentariat? Our Village Troll, Mao? Our Village Idiot, David? The pack of Anonymous Ignoramuses who can’t read for comprehension? Why would Somerby care what they would welcome?

      That would be a better use of his time and his platform than constantly repeating that no one cares, and then ignoring the people who do.

      Better for whom? Better according to whom?

      I simply don’t understand this kind of criticism. Why are people reading this blog and commenting on it, If they’re not willing to take the blog for its stated mission? If the blog is a waste of time and cyberspace, why waste time adding to the waste of space?

      And after all, it’s Somerby’s time to waste as he sees fit.

      Delete
  4. Somerby's mommy told him he was her favorite. Then he found out she loves daddy best. She was just saying that because she was his mommy. Now he doesn't believe anything or anyone, especially not women. Poor disillusioned baby!

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    1. Your little fantasy about TDH's emotional life may tell us more about you, Anonymous Ignoramus @11:33A, than about TDH.

      Delete
    2. You know, deadrat, on one level you are right. No one knows what motivates Somerby in his inmost soul.

      But on the other hand, he opens himself up to this by making sweeping pronouncements about the inner life and motivations of liberals, calling liberals (all liberals) dumb, lazy, immoral, virtue-signaling elitists who don’t care about black/low-income kids, while at the same time telling liberals not to generalize about those put-upon conservatives.

      So, defend away, but keep this in mind.

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    3. I guess even a stopped clock is right on at least one level.

      So you object to TDH reading minds by making ”sweeping pronouncements,” so it’s OK for his commenters to read TDH’s mind because what? Turnabout is fair play?

      You don’t need to read people’s minds to figure out that they’re “dumb, lazy, …[or] immoral.” You just have to look at their behavior. You do have to be a mind reader to know that they don’t care about something, but again, actions speak louder than words. If I tell you that I really care about safe driving, but you find out that I’ve been convicted of 15 DUI’s in the past year, do you have to be able to read my mind to figure out that I don’t really care about safe driving?

      I defend TDH from the spurious attacks of Anonymi Ignorami like the pathetic 11:33A. It’s not a particularly dirty job, and nobody has to do it, but I’m doing it anyway. TDH writes plenty of nonsense that I don’t defend, and in fact, have ridiculed him for.

      If the editors of the NYT routinely assign their least experienced reporters to the education beat, don’t monitor the resulting stories for accuracy, and publish letters that miss the point, then I think it’s fair to say that the editors don’t really care about education issues no matter how much they claim otherwise.

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    4. deadrat,
      What makes you think the NYT is "liberal"?

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    5. @9:30P, Nothing. The NYT is a paper run by fatuous incompetents to give Op-Ed space to brain-dead conservatives like David Brooks, Bret Stephens, and Ross Douthat. They are "liberal" only to the extent that they are targets of TDH's ire. Ask him.

      Delete
  5. “Everything you read or hear will likely be bogus or wrong.”

    That includes TDH, of course.

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  6. The Mississippi results showing an increase in grade four reading scores have been shown to coincide with a change in State policy that held back many more students in grade three. There was no cheating, no manipulation of the results; it was simply an artifact of older students taking the test. Analogously, grade twelve results will inevitably decrease due to a policy that keeps more (academically weak) students in school to increase the graduation rate by whatever means necessary. This ain't rocket science.

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    1. Coincidence is not causality.

      The results also coincide with the change in instructional method in reading.

      Perhaps both things contributed to the outcome. That deserves study, not a casual dismissal of the one thing (instructional method) because of the coincidence of another (change in retention policy).

      The instructional method may yield excellent results. That prospect ought to warrant further investigation.

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  7. Somerby keeps claiming that our schools are good, at least if you restrict your view to whites and Asians.

    But aside from naep scores, where is the evidence for that? Certainly not in our culture or our politics.

    Isn’t Somerby the one who always complains that our current situation shows that man isn’t the rational animal?

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    1. Try to focus: TDH isn't claiming that "our schools are good." He's claiming that the NAEP scores don't support the conclusion that our entire school system is falling and should be re-imagined.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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