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Not so fast! Jeb Bush and Friends Mislead on PIRLS Test

It did not take long for Jeb Bush and one of his “foundations” to catapult the propaganda right at the American people. The Bush Foundation for Excellence in Education (sic) posted a blog entry written by someone named Mike Thomas. It was clear that this writer and the “foundation” are not interested in serious research or analysis.

Thomas said that Florida 4th graders had gone from the bottom of the nation to the top of the world. Well if this is true he makes the perfect case that there is no need for common core. It is not that simple. Thomas conflates the NAEP results with the PIRLS results. But he gets that wrong too since Florida 4th graders were not at the bottom of the nation.

Thomas also fails to realize that comparing a “state” that only had 77 schools participate to nations with several hundred to over one thousand schools participating – is suspect at best. The sample is too small to be of any use. Comparisons to “countries” are speculative at best. Of all the benchmark participants- Florida had the lowest participation rate. This is another concern. Florida tested about 2,600 kids- Oman tested over 10,000.

Thomas also does what the Jeb Bush crowd does best- cherry pick. Florida was a benchmark participant this time and has not taken the test before. Thomas also conflates results from FCAT, NAEP, and now PIRLS. This is not serious scholarship.

When we look closely at NAEP information here and here – we get a  better picture of Florida from 4th grade to 8th grade and to 12th grade.


What stuns me the most (well not really) is that Bush and friends used these results for political reasons.  There was not one mention of what any real leader- any serious research group would note.  Once again the US was the #1 nation in the world for students in low poverty schools and #6 overall in the world. You see there is no crisis. We have no teacher problem and no standards problem. The Bush machine conveniently ignored the real news today.

Florida results are a small sample that reflect the overall nation. Results are high for the small sample- yes.

Bush wants it both ways-  crisis yet greatness. I hope we all see through this sham use of data.

This is what Thomas wrote–  a political document bereft of any serious thought.


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