Public schools: You’ve been told a false story again and again!

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2013

This morning, the Post has recanted: Here’s a basic news report we thought we’d never see.

In this morning’s Washington Post, Lyndsey Layton reports the latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP). After all these years of rank deception, Layton and the Washington Post are finally reporting a basic fact:

The mainstream press corps’ Standard Story about the public schools has been wrong!

The Post has endlessly pushed that false tale. This morning, the Post is recanting:
LAYTON (6/28/13): The nation's 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds are posting better scores in math and reading tests than their counterparts did 40 years ago, and the achievement gap between white students and those of color still persists but is narrowing, according to new federal government data released Thursday.

The scores—collected regularly since the 1970s from federal tests administered to public and private school students age 9, 13 and 17—paint a picture of steady student achievement that contradicts the popular notion that U.S. educational progress has stalled.

"When you break out the data over the long term and ask who is improving, the answer is . . . everyone," said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to close the achievement gap between poor and privileged children. "And the good news, given where they started, is that black and Latino children have racked up some of the biggest gains of all."

The data, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress long-term trend study, come from tests given every four years in math and reading. The most recent results, from 2012, show that 9- and 13-year-olds did better in math and reading than students who took the first reading test in 1971 and the first math test in 1973.
Rather quickly, Layton starts to bungle the data. The problems have already started in the fourth paragraph we’ve posted.

But in the highlighted passages, the Washington Post has finally confessed. At long last, it is reporting the basic story that it has obscured for so long:

The nation’s students are doing better in reading and math! NAEP data “paint a picture of steady student achievement that contradicts the popular notion that U.S. educational progress has stalled.”

Let’s say that again: The actual data contradict the popular notion that educational progress has stalled.

In truth, the popular notion has really been that educational achievement is in decline. But let’s not quibble on the day when the Post at long last tells the truth.

Meanwhile, don’t be fooled! The latest data are new, but the picture Layton describes is not. Scores have been rising all along, even as newspapers like the Post kept saying and implying the opposite.

For unknown reasons, the Post has finally broken down and admitted the truth: Test scores have been steadily rising.

Next week, we’ll look at Layton’s reporting in more detail. In many ways, the actual story is still much better than the Post is admitting.

But in that second highlighted passage, you see the crumbling of a stone wall. The actual data contradict the popular notion about our hopeless decline.

You’ve been told a false story again and again. This morning, the Post has recanted.


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