Jay Mathews Revisits The "Likes Math = Not Good At Math" Study

There's a long history in Washington of "revising and extending" your remarks -- that is, going back and changing what you said the first time, without necessarily admitting the need for correction -- and the Washington Post's Jay Mathews illustrates that that phrase in his online column from last week reflecting on how he (and most other education reporters) covered the Loveless/Brookings study that came out a couple of weeks ago. (You remember, the one about kids who didn't like math doing better at it.)

In his more recent piece (Fun with Statistical Excavation), Mathews admits that he wrote about that element of the study because it was "eye-catching, contrarian part" -- but not necessarily the most useful or important part of what Loveless found. For example, Mathews writes, Loveless found that states had been lowering proficiency requirements long before NCLB came around. "The new law did not make the states cheat. They had always made decisions that made them look good." He also points out that international comparisons of math performance aren't always apples to apples, and that the unhappy/high performing angle that nearly everyone used might not have been so solid.

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