Letter: Information was distorted

May 10, 2013 

As a teacher, I was pondering what example could I use to demonstrate the manipulation of statistics for propaganda? The Compass piece of May 8 provided examples:

Ron Fuhrer of NEA-Alaska states: “In the last decade, graduation rates have increased by 10 percent, three times faster than the national average.” This omits that in the Department of Education 2013 data, Alaska ranked eighth from the bottom in graduation rates. Furthermore, the data explicitly states that the new rate of calculation cannot be compared to previously reported graduation rates. “By using this new measure, states will be more honest in holding schools accountable:” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Distortions continue: “Alaska ranks third in the nation in academic growth between 4th and 8th grade.” This fails to note that in 2011, Alaska was at the bottom of the nation in fourth grade reading, and sixth from the bottom in fourth grade math. When you are at the bottom it’s not that hard to show growth. The distortion of statistics does not help our students or teachers.

— Ann Williams

Eagle River

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