The Post's Education Stats

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Post's Education Stats

Apparently, the Washington Post evaluates educational statistics much the way the Bush administration evaluates WMD intelligence — it excludes the pieces that don't fit its pre-ordained conclusion.

The newspaper published a story in late November comparing the performance of U.S. students on international assessments. This past weekend, in a letter to the editor, an official with the National School Boards Association blew the whistle on how the Post chose to report this story. Courtesy of the LetsGetItRight blog:
The table that compared the United States with other countries in performance in fourth-grade math gave the false impression that the United States ranked 12th out of 13 countries, and it suggested that the only country the United States outperformed was Cyprus.

Not shown were 12 countries, including Italy, Australia and Norway, that were outperformed by the United States, leaving the impression that U.S. fourth-graders were next to last in the world. In reality, the United States is among neither the highest-performing nor the lowest-performing countries in fourth-grade math.
The LetsGetItRight post suggests that the Post either did not report or glossed over the fact that U.S. fourth-graders ranked an impressive 4th out of 34 countries in reading.

But presenting something as mixed news just doesn't sell newspapers as well as it does when you take the "educational sky is falling" approach.

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