To the Editor:
Your otherwise thoughtful article on the premature public release of research (“Release of Unreviewed Studies Sparks Debate,” May 18, 2005) is marred by the repetition of incorrect allegations about our August 2004 report, “Charter School Achievement on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress.”
First, contrary to what our critics said in national newspaper advertisements, our report was not a “study” in any conventional sense. It was a straightforward presentation of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress that the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Center for Education Statistics had failed to release, and, in fact, had buried. There was no research “design,” no “methodology,” no American Federation of Teachers conclusions—nothing to distinguish our report from a typical NAEP report, which is precisely why these “gold standard” findings were considered so credible and members of the media were so interested.
The only difference is that it was the AFT, not the government, that made this public information public. Not surprisingly, when NAGB and the NCES finally kicked loose their repeatedly “delayed,” official NAEP charter school report, the findings were identical to ours, notwithstanding their efforts to spin them.
Second, it is not true that our unofficial NAEP charter school report was “unreviewed.” It probably received as much internal review, or more, as an official NAEP report does. The difference is that the administration’s review of the results led it to withhold this important public data, while the AFT’s review of our unofficial NAEP report reached the opposite conclusion.
While we are pleased that our report renewed attention to peer review, we regret that an even more important issue, the administration’s reluctance to release public information in a timely manner, has been mostly overlooked. After all, that’s why we released the NAEP results.
F. Howard Nelson
Nancy Van Meter
American Federation of Teachers