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Friday, June 22, 2012

LEV is Among the Worst

Here is a link to a story on the LEV blog with the headline "Washington among the worst when it comes to Black male graduation rates".

The story - written by the League of Education Voters - says:
"The Schott Foundation has released individual report cards revealing the graduation rates of Black male students, and Washington is among the worst performers."
Later in the story, however, the LEV admits:
"The national graduation average for Black male students in the 2007-2008 school year is 47 percent, which technically means that Washington is slightly above average."
Waitaminnut. Does LEV know what the word "worst" means? If Washington State is, in fact, above average, how can LEV claim that it is "among the worst"? Washington isn't even among the worse, let alone the worst. If this article is reflective of the LEV's ability to interpret data, then they stink at it.

Now, I'm not proud of the state's 48% graduation rate for black male students, nor am I proud of the state's graduation rate of 66% among white male students. Consequently, I'm not proud that our "gap" is only 18 percentage points instead of the national average of 30 percentage points. Still, that doesn't make us "among the worst".

By the way, the LEV doesn't mention that this data is from 2007/2008.

I have to wonder if the LEV misrepresents all data this way or if this misrepresentation was among their worst.

17 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

LEV and other ed reform organizations have an aversion to giving full information. Half-truths, mistruths, out of context - it's all fine with them.

It is not about being right or wrong - it's about telling the truth and then you can draw your own conclusions and give your readers/followers that.

What is very clear is that some legislators are fed lines - "facts" - and go around stating them without even knowing they are true or having read the source material that that fact came from.

It's sad.

Gladys Alice said...

You guys are so positive and uplifting. I love you. You are like snow cones on a hot day in South Carolina.

seattle citizen said...

LEV is, pure and simple, a propaganda machine. They have no interest in accurate information or discourse on same. To the contrary, they (like most Reform "coalitions" and "alliances" and "partnerships") skew data, manipulate narratives, and, worst of all, capitalize on serious issues, trivializing them into mere sound bites. They use race, as it suits them, to further their agenda. It makes me angry.

Anonymous said...

It's like a tale from anti-Lake Wobegon... a town where all are below average.

** Geeezzz

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

LEV stated in a presentation that "The facts don't matter". Remember?

They certainly don't to LEV.

See: "The facts don't matter" with the League of Education Voters

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/the-facts-dont-matter/

As always, Blogger lets me down by not catching the link. Sorry for the cut and paste exercise.

Dora

Anonymous said...

It is important to be skeptical about data, as it clearly can be skewed for a message.

But in this case, you really need to actually look at the data. Mathematically, being above the average doesn't mean much. Just a few states being REALLY bad will skew the average down.

In this case, if you actually look at the report behind this data, you would find that Washington ranks 19th worst on the list. That means 31 states are better than Washington. You can argue about where the cutoff of "worst" is, I suppose, but it hurts your credibility a bit to get nitpicky that way.

North end mom

Charlie Mas said...

How's this for nit-picky...

The national average graduation rate for Black male students is 47%. Washington state's Black male graduation rate is 48%. It is, essentially, average, though slightly above.

The national average graduation rate for White male students is 78%. Washington state's White male graduation rate is 66%. That number is BELOW the average and to a significant degree: 12 percentage points - 15% lower than the national average.

Where is the alarm about our state's White male graduation rate?

Charlie Mas said...

And, yes, the state's rate is in the lower half among states. But look at the states that are near the top. Maine - with only 2,613 black male students, Vermont with 778, New Hampshire with 2,029. There are more black students in Seattle alone than in all three of these states.

A state by state ranking is silly when Vermont has 778 students and New York has over 274,000.

The folks who put this report together aren't that great with data analysis either.

"Certain types of data are Benchmarked at the highest level obtained by one of the states or districts included in the Yes We Can report. It is assumed that the goal in each state is to close the racial and gender achievement gaps."

When you use the top score as the benchmark you insure that everyone fails to meet the benchmark and you can therefore label every result as a failure.

Ed said...

LEV is simply just as "Astro-turf" as the Tea Party with their medicare/social security retirees with signs saying "Keep your government hands off my health care".

Facts don't matter.

Money does.

Thats all.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,
LEV is an astroturf organization that has lost touch with its original goals. They now seem more interested in self-promotion and corporate interests than in actual on the ground supporting schools. They have joined in the mob mentality that wants to turn teachers into enemies. For personal reasons, I find this heartbreaking.

And emphatically YES, they manipulate data to support their own messages.

I just don't think this particular issue is a strong way to point out LEV's failings. They can then turn around and say you think 48% graduation rate is just fine, so long as we are above the average. They want to marginalize people who don't support their version of "reform," and we have to be careful not to give them easy ways to do it.

North end mom

basically said...

I also find LEV's change heartbreaking for my own reasons. As soon as they endorse Rob McKenna for gov, I'm asking to be taken off their email list.

Anonymous said...

I like being on LEV's email list so I can see the propaganda they are sending out. I often respond with a challenge. So far, they haven't removed me and occasionally they respond back—or at least they used to.

SolvayGirl

Jan said...

North end mom: I think you make good points. While I totally agree with the point that LEV is nothing more than (or at least, little more than) a fact-twisting, truth-spinning shill for an ed reform propaganda machine that is indifferent to actually improving education, I think you are right that it is sometimes difficult to point out their intentional misconduct without appearing to take a position (that being at or above average is ok, against a backdrop of clearly poor performance, or that we are in the middle third of states -- and thus clearly not among the worst) that is not accurate.

I think we need to (and Melissa and Charlie usually do -- but not always) craft all our responses by making clear what our position on the merits is -- the other side will still attempt to mis-cast it, but when it is there in black and white (e.g. -- Melissa's "status quo" statements), it is at least easy to counter the untruths when they come.

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