Something remarkable happened as the cheating case, which dates back to 2005, unfolded. Over the last 13 years, Atlanta students have made significant progress on another test, the widely respected National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), administered through the Education Department and considered the "gold standard" of educational testing in the U.S.
We teachers have enough on our plates helping our students, fighting the cheaper, but equally dangerous knock-offs of D.C.'s IMPACT evaluation system, and working for humane and evidence-driven methods to improve our schools. We shouldn't waste our strength worrying about whether evidence that supports the accountability hawks is exaggerated or not.
We're a nation that's coming to respect statistics. Billy Bean convinced us that better statistics could beat bigger payrolls in sports. Nate Silver helped humble Karl Rove's money machine with better statistics. Maybe it's time to take a more careful look at the international test statistics judging how good our nation's schools are.