Reporting test scores
Another "fair and balanced" article from a Wheeling "newspaper"
Here is the headline from yesterday's News-Register front-page article:
Northern Panhandle Schools Flunk Test
And here's the lede:
Northern Panhandle public school districts fared poorly on West Virginia's Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, a review by the Sunday News-Register indicates.
And here's the front-page headline from this morning's Charleston Gazette-Mail:
New Test Scores Released
And here's their first paragraph:
Monongalia and Ohio were the top-scoring counties, and Barbour, Logan and McDowell were the bottom-scoring counties in math and English/language arts last school year on West Virginia’s new Common Core-aligned standardized test.
And further into the article:
Ohio, in the Northern Panhandle, took the top spot for English, with about six out of every 10 kids meeting proficiency, while it was No. 2 in math, with a 38 percent proficiency rate.
(The News-Register, in the two paragraph devoted to Ohio County does not mention either of these broadly-inclusive results instead focusing on the school's declines in more specific areas.)
My first reaction was to wonder whether they were talking about the same test. Obviously, they were. The Gazette-Mail article is more detailed and much longer; it also explains why it might be difficult to compare results with previous years:
A significantly lower percentage of students statewide scored at least “proficient” in math on the new test than on the Westest standardized exam it replaced, but state education officials have stressed the two assessments aren’t comparable. Among the differences, they note Westest wasn’t based on the Common Core standards and was easier, while the new exam is meant to better gauge students’ critical thinking skills.
The News-Register article is more disjointed - skipping from one subject to another with few transitions and it seems to focus only on the negatives of Northern Panhandle schools. My hunch is that its primary purpose is to set up a later editorial/Myer column about why we need charter schools or alternatives to public education or how teacher unions, Obama's Department of Education, common core standards, or the "war on affordable electricity" is the real problem.
A final note - three paragraphs into the News-Register article, John McCabe briefly changes the article's focus to brag that readers are seeing the results thanks to the News-Register filing a Freedom of Information request.
The Sunday News-Register filed a Freedom of Information request for the test scores with the West Virginia Department of Education in early September, and received them late last week.
What bullshit! Just about every media source in the state would be interested in these results. If the Department of Education had withheld this information the outcry would have been deafening and yet I found nothing online that the department had ever considered not releasing the results.