Many readers have contacted me to ask why CNN has not posted Randi Kaye’s interview with me, rebutting Michelle Rhee’s assertions.
This reader, Michael Brocoum, made a copy of the interview and posted it on Youtube. Here it is.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the interview began with a question about the National Assessment of Educational Progress (you will note that it is misspelled by CNN as the National Assessment of Educational Process). I don’t recall the precise wording, but the question went like this:
“You claim that test scores on NAEP are at their highest point in history, but how do you explain that the scale score for fourth grade reading is only 221? That’s 221 out of 500. That’s less than 50%. Isn’t 50% a failing grade?”
I then tried to explain that scale scores don’t work like that, that the question itself was a completely erroneous interpretation of scale scores. NAEP has a vertical scale, and scale scores in the 4th grade are lower than in the 8th grade. They can’t be converted into a grade in the way that Randi Kaye asserted, although they are useful as measures of progress.
Consider this: the average scale score for 4th grade is 221, but students scoring at the 90th percentile–our top students–have a scale score of 264. By Randi Kaye’s fallacious reasoning, they are failing too! In 8th grade reading, the students at the 90th percentile had a scale score of 307 (on a scale of 500). She would convert that to a grade of 61, which is borderline failing.
Wouldn’t you think that the editor or research staff at CNN would have prevented Randi Kaye from making such absurd assertions?
But it was of a piece with all the questions that followed. I felt as if I were being interrogated by someone who worked for StudentsFirst, not by a reporter seeking to ascertain either my views or the basic facts.
Rhee said at the outset of my interview that the answer to what she thinks is the terrible performance of our schools is merit pay. So Randi Kaye drilled in on that with two questions (one of them was dropped from the show before it aired). She ended up with a quote from someone named Lucas who said he wanted merit pay. That wasn’t exactly definitive, since I was able point out that merit pay has been tried again and again and has always failed to make a difference.