The New York Times appears to have gone with two different versions of the math scores story. The beginning of the story that made it online yesterday takes a more critical look at the scores, emphasizing Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch’s cautious stance. However, the first several paragraphs in the version that ran in print today (which, yes, had to be pointed out to us by someone over 40) highlight the city’s math score gains and quote Mayor Bloomberg celebrating the news as evidence of his administration’s success. Further down, today’s story includes the voices of experts who questioned the significance of the results, which yesterday’s story did not have. Both were bylined by education reporter Javier Hernandez — his response is below.
Monday’s online version:
New York City’s public school students showed large gains on state math tests this year, particularly in the middle school grades, the State Education Department announced on Monday. But officials cautioned that the results could be overstated and said that the state was considering making it harder to pass the tests. In New York City, 82 percent of students in grades three through eight passed the test, compared with 74 percent last year. Statewide, 86 percent of students passed the test this year, compared with 81 percent last year. The performance gains in city schools matched trends across the state, with school districts in Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and Syracuse showing increases of similar sizes. At a news conference in Albany, the chancellor of the state’s Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch, said there was reason for caution amid the impressive results. She said the state was considering raising the score required to pass the tests in all grade levels next year.
Today’s print copy (and now online):
New York City’s public school students showed large gains on state math tests this year, particularly in the middle school grades, and black and Hispanic students continued to edge closer to their white counterparts, the city and state education departments announced on Monday. In New York City, 82 percent of students in Grades 3 through 8 passed the test, compared with 74 percent last year and just 57 percent three years ago. Statewide, 86 percent of students passed the test, compared with 81 percent last year. The results, coupled with similar gains on English tests released last month, were a boon for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who is lobbying Albany to keep control of city schools in the mayor’s hands. At a news conference at a school in the Bronx, Mr. Bloomberg trumpeted the results as evidence that mayoral control had produced revolutionary improvements and brought city students within spitting distance of state averages after years of mediocrity. Our reforms are working, Mr. Bloomberg said. Our schools are heading in the right direction.
Update: Hernandez writes: “Our ultimate goal is to produce the most accurate, fair, and nuanced stories for our readers, and that involves a certain amount of metamorphosis from web to print.” “And Dr. Tisch’s words of warning and her call for more rigorous standards still appeared prominently on the front page of the newspaper. These tweaks and additions were a natural part of the editing process that led to what we believe was a stronger story.”