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Media Watch: Who Wins The 2009 NAEP Math Coverage Contest?

As always, coverage of NAEP scores is rated on a ten-point "must" scale including (a) colorfulness of reaction quotes, (b) visual appeal of accompanying graphics, and (c) grabby headlines. Accuracy and clarity are tolerated but not considered as part of the judging process.

61_1_blue-ribbon-perfect-logoVVIt's a close call this year.  Duncan uses the word "stuff" to describe test score results in Nick Anderson's WP story.  (He'll never get a live interview with Duncan again.)  Tom Loveless goes with a polling analogy in Libby Quaid's AP story. (A little bit off cycle but I like it.)  Amy Wilkins tries a strong if politically incorrect gasoline metaphor in the Christian Science Monitor.  But it's almost not even fair including Checker, quoted in Sam Dillon's NYT coverage, who makes test score results sound directional and vaguely existential.  That guy is the LazR swimsuit of sound bites.  Plus I like "sluggish" in the hed. So I give it to the Times.

The contenders and their top quotes are below. Who do YOU think did it best?

"Seeing stuff flat-line is not what we want as a country -- seeing achievement gaps that are unacceptably large," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.D.C. Students Make Significant Strides WP

"I would be cautious not to make too much of it," said Kichoon Yang, executive director of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, a professional group. Math Skills Stall Among Fourth Graders, Testing Shows WSJ

"The improvement is so modest that it just isn't going to do what our kids need," said Driscoll, a former education commissioner for Massachusetts. "We have to take a leap." U.S. Math Scores Hit a Wall WSJ

"Each of these is kind of like a public opinion poll; it's an estimate," Loveless said. "I think people rush to take each release of test scores far too seriously and try to explain every little wiggle in the data." Math tests: Fourth-grader progress stalls AP

“The trend is flat; it’s a plateau. Scores are not going anywhere, at least nowhere important,” said Chester Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research organization in Washington. Sluggish Results Seen in U.S. Math Scores NYT

"This may mean we've gotten all the octane we can out of our current math teaching force," says Amy Wilkins, a vice president at the Education Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing achievement gaps. No improvement for fourth-graders on national math test CSM


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They all lose. No one points out the core problem - we don't teach our teachers to teach. When you do, great things happen. How about this: let's develop a methodology that meets all goals for all kids and then teach it to teachers. Guess what - it works.

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