Third Way’s “Revisionist Analysis” [Bold-faced lie!]

Posted on September 29, 2011



I know I said I’d stop addressing the Third Way report on Middle Class Schools, but I do have one more thing to point out. Third Way issued a memo in which it aggressively attacked my assertion that they had used district level data to characterize middle class schools. Again, this assertion was relevant to showing the absurdity of their classification scheme, but there were numerous other problems with the report.

My NEPC Review

My NEPC Response to Third Way Memo regarding Methods

Third way claims my analyses to be “fatally flawed” because, as they claim in their follow-up memo, their analyses were actually at the school level and did not, as I show in tables in my review, contain all schools in poor cities including Detroit, Philadelphia or Chicago. Allow me to point out that what I actually said in my review was:

That is, these large urban districts are counted in any Third Way district-level analyses as middle-class districts.

I was very clear in my review that the table of large cities pertained specifically to “district-level” analyses in the Third Way report. I further explained extensively the problems with their continued mixing of school, individual family and district units.

But here’s the kicker based on one last check of their original report and the follow-up memo. In the follow up memo, the authors include this footnote to explain their methods – focusing on how they collected school level data from the NCES Common Core (school level data that never actually show up in any form, any table, in their original report). Note the part in this footnote where they explain selecting “school” as the unit of analysis:

Footnote in Memo

http://content.thirdway.org/publications/446/Third_Way_Memo_-_A_Response_to_the_National_Education_Policy_Center_.pdf

Footnote #8 Third Way calculations based on data from the following source: United States, Department of Education, Institute of Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data. Accessed September 22, 2011. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/bat/. The Common Core of Data includes data from the “2008-09 Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey,” “2008-09 Local Education Agency Universe Survey,” and “2000 School District Demographics” from the U.S. Census Bureau. To generate data from the Common Core of Data, in the “select rows” drop down box, select “School.” Then select next. On the following page, in the “select columns” drop down box, choose the “Students in Special Programs” option. Select the box next to “Total Free and Reduced Lunch Students.” Then in the drop down box, select “Contact Information” option. Then select the box next to “Location City.” Then go back to the “select columns” drop down box and select the “Enrollment by Grade” option.  Then select the box next to “11th Grade enrollment.”  Then go more time to the “select columns” drop down box, choose “Total enrollment.” Then select the box next to “Total students.” Then select next. On the next page, choose “Illinois.” Then click the “view table” option. Once the table is compiled, download the table into Excel.csv by clicking that option at the top of the page. To calculate the number of high schools in Chicago with a student population of between 26-75% eligible for NSLP, we performed the following steps: 1) We first sorted by schools based on % NSLP (number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch divided by total number of students enrolled). 2) We then pulled out the schools that had enrollment in 11th grade. 3) We then sorted the schools based on location city, and pulled out the schools located in the City of Chicago.

Now, check out the two related (copied and pasted) footnotes from their original report. Each indicates using DISTRICT level data.

In short, the follow up memo was simply a lie – a flat out lie – and included revisionist analysis completely unrelated to any information actually presented in the original report.

I have retained copies of the originals, if the authors should choose to now go back and edit/change these footnotes.

Doing crappy analysis is one thing. Trying to cover it up by lying and revising while leaving the trail behind really doesn’t help.

Original Report

http://content.thirdway.org/publications/435/Third_Way_Report_-_Incomplete_How_Middle_Class_Schools_Aren_t_Making_the_Grade_-_PRINT.pdf

Footnote #40 Third Way calculations based on data from the following source: United States, Department of Education, Institute of Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data. Accessed July 25, 2011. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/ bat/. The Common Core of Data includes data from the “2008-09 Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey,” “2008-09 Local Education Agency Universe Survey,” and “2000 School District Demographics” from the U.S. Census Bureau. To generate data from the Common Core of Data, in the “select rows” drop down box, select “District.” Then select next. On the following page, in the “select columns” drop down box, choose the “Census 2000 – Household Income, Occupancy and Size” option. Then check the box next to “Median Family Income.” Then go back to the “select columns” drop down box, choose the “Students in Special Programs” option. Select the box next to “Total Free and Reduced Lunch Students.” Then go back one more time to the “select columns” drop down box, choose “total enrollment.” Then select the box next to “total students.” Then select next. On the next page, choose the “Select 50 States + DC” filter from the drop down box. Then click the “view table” option. Once the table is compiled, download the table into Excel.csv by clicking that option at the top of the page. To calculate average household income by school district, we performed the following steps: 1) We first sorted school districts based on % NSLP (number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch divided by total number of students enrolled). 2) Using CPI for 2009, we adjusted the incomes for inflation. 3) We then found the median household income, based on the following groupings: 0-25.44%, 25.45-75.44%, 75.45-100% NSLP.

Footnote #88 Third Way calculations based on data from the following source: United States, Department of Education, Institute of Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data. Accessed July 25, 2011. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/ bat/. The Common Core of Data includes data from the “2008-09 Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey”, “2008-09 Local Education Agency Universe Survey,” and “2000 School District Demographics” from the Census Bureau. To generate data from the Common Core of Data, in the “select rows” drop down box, select “District.” Then select next. On the following page, in the “select columns” drop down box, choose the “Census 2000 – Household Income, Occupancy and Size” option. Then check the box next to “Median Family Income.” Then go back to the “select columns” drop down box, choose the “Students in Special Programs” option. Select the box next to “Total Free and Reduced Lunch Students.” Then go back one more time to the “select columns” drop down box, choose “total enrollment.” Then select the box next to “total students.” Then select next. On the next page, choose the “Select 50 States + DC” filter from the drop down box. Then click the “view table” option. Once the table is compiled, download the table into Excel.csv by clicking that option at the top of the page. To calculate average household income by school district, we performed the following steps: 1) We first sorted school districts based on % NSLP (number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch divided by total number of students enrolled). 2) Using CPI for 2009, we adjusted the incomes for inflation. 3) We then found the median household income, based on the following groupings: 0-25.44%, 25.45-50.44%, 50.45-75.44%, 75.45-100% NSLP.

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