Lipstick on a Pig

Source: NYC DOE

We like standardized tests almost as much as Bloomberg and Klein do, so we’ll give you a multiple choice quiz:

Question 1: Which of the following headlines — all triggered by the same Department of Education school ratings press release — is the most attention-grabbing?

(a) “Schools Get Report Cards From City Education Dept.”
(b) “With Standards Tightened, Far Fewer New York City Schools Receive a Grade of ‘A’”
(c) “Just 5% of city’s elementary/middle schools got Ds and Fs this year in new progress reports”
(d) “Progress Absent at Most Schools”
(e) “Grade shock: Regular schools top charters”

Before you answer, you may want to look at Questions 2 and 3:

Question 2: Rank the preceding headlines by their Bloomberg kiss-up factor, starting with the one with the biggest lips.

Question 3: Which headline appeared where? Here are your choices: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily News, NY Post, NY1.

The correct answers (meaning, for Q1 and Q2, the answers we like) are:

  1. (e)
  2. (c), (a), (d), (b), (e)
  3. NY1, NY Times, DN, WSJ, NY Post

Illustration: His Vorpal Sword

Now for our color commentary: Headline (a) is a total waste. Headline (b) says that even Bloomberg and Klein won’t risk giving 84% of schools an “A” two years in a row — especially right after NY State restored some reality to its standardized test scoring. Headline (c) tries to put tweed lipstick on a statistical pig. Headline (d) elicits a resounding “Duh.”

But Headline (e) truly surprises us. Uncharacteristically, it challenges today’s received wisdom about charter schools’ alleged superiority. Read the Post story here.

The Times, the News, and the WSJ buried the “charter schools do worse” story 13, 9, and 11 grafs down, where many readers won’t even notice it. NY1 didn’t mention it at all.

We hope you enjoyed this little quiz. If you did well on it (sorry, unlike DOE, we’re going to require that you get everything right to get an “A”), you’re an honorary

If you got any questions wrong, you’ll need remedial work (alas, it’s too late for summer school). But fear not: All you’ll have to do is read our previous posts about schools. We’ll offer you a re-test later.

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