NYT Flashback..It’s a Trip!

By the way, Tuesday was not the first time The New York Times bought hook, line, and sinker into an education study and trumpeted it on the front page only to discover big problems. For instance, in 2002 a breathless headline and story announced a major new study on high stakes testing. That study was later discredited when the data was reanalyzed using proper statistical methods. This subsequent NYT story tried to clear up the problem.

The two episodes have something in common. In both cases the body of research evidence is mixed. Nonetheless, in both The Times chose to present one-side as definitive and apparently did not evaluate the studies in question.

2002 high-stakes testing lede:

Rigorous testing that decides whether students graduate, teachers win bonuses and schools are shuttered, an approach already in place in more than half the nation, does little to improve achievement and may actually worsen academic performance and dropout rates, according to the largest study ever on the issue.

Tuesday’s charter school story lede:

The first national comparison of test scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools shows charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools.

The findings, buried in mountains of data the Education Department released without public announcement, dealt a blow to supporters of the charter school movement, including the Bush administration.

Oh yeah, one other commonality: The high stakes testing “study” was commissioned by the NEA…

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