Ravitch Unraveling: A Gold Standard Abandoned

Eric Lerum:

As a pundit, Diane Ravitch is nothing if not prolific. That aptly describes her constant stream of blog posts, tweets, speeches to teacher unions and anti-reform crowds, and promotional book tour stops and media interviews. It also describes her flow of incompatible viewpoints.
Take her view on NAEP test scores, for example. In a New York Times op-ed from 2005, Ravitch called NAEP “the gold standard,” and in a 2006 WSJ piece with Chester Finn, she said “NAEP’s role as honest auditor makes state officials squirm.” Just three years ago, she touted NAEP as “more trustworthy than state exams.” She used NAEP score comparisons as the foundation for her argument against charter schools and No Child Left Behind in the 2010 WSJ op-ed she penned explaining her change of heart.
And in her most recent book, which critics have argued “trades fact for fiction,” she bases her critique of Michelle Rhee’s record as DCPS Chancellor on the foundation that NAEP scores illustrate Rhee “did not turn it into the highest-performing urban district in the United States.”
Yet last week, when 2013 NAEP scores were released, she found the “statistical horse race utterly stupid.” She completely dismissed commending the historic gains made in DC and Tennessee as “nonsense” and “hype,” asking, were “students in the states with the biggest gains getting better education or more test prep?” This despite the fact that she wrote in her just-published book “there is no way to prepare for NAEP.”