Alabama voters have been bombarded incessantly for weeks by politicians screaming about our low test scores and how the sky is falling.
HOWEVER, not one of these lawmakers who are so quick to throw stones at school teachers and administrators have been honest enough to provide the context of the scores they cite and admit that they are misusing the data they use.
The scores are those from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), given every two years to a small, random sample of 4th and 8th graders. How small is the sample? It amounts to six-tenths of one percent of all our students in public schools.
Students being tested are told that test results have no bearing on their grades. The test is not aligned with standards being taught in Alabama schools. Educators pay no attention to NAEP scores because they know they are meaningless.
The sole purpose of this nationwide testing is to get trend lines as to how the country is doing. Isolating the results of a single test in a single test is NOT the intent of NAPE.
My friend, Dr. Diane Ravitch in NYC, was on the NAPE governing board. So I told her what politicians here are doing with the tests results. She was appalled and quickly told me that what is occurring is a travesty and is dishonest at best.
How dishonest? Let me use a personal example.
From March 1, 2019 to Feb. 29, 2020 this blog had 166,409 visitors. This was an average of 455 per day (and I did figure the extra day in February due to Leap Year.)
Now six-tenths of one percent of a year is two days. So I could pick any two days and that would be equivalent to doing what NAEP does with all the students in the state.
Perhaps because of the interest in Amendment One, March 1-2 were tremendous days for blog visits. There were 7,050 visits on March 1 and 8,669 on March 2. That is an average of 7,859 for those two days alone.
So instead of saying that I average 455 visits a day, I could claim that I average 7,859.
Would I be lying? No. I have the figures to support my contention. But would I be dishonest? Without a doubt.
Which is exactly what every politician who has hollered about NAEP scores recently has been.