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A brief historical look at America's loss of confidence in public schools is presented to show how data have been used to create half-truths and erroneous positions.
Why You Need a Book Like This
PART ONE: PRINCIPLES OF DATA INTERPRETATION, OR, HOW TO KEEP FROM GETTING STATISTICALLY SNOOKERED
Beware of Averages
Follow the Money
Beware of the Uncritical Acceptance of Convenient Conclusions
Watch for Selectivity in the Data
Show Me the Data!
Beware of Nostalgia
Beware of Causal Explanations from Correlational Data
Be Aware of Whether or Not the Statistics Used Are Numbers or Rates (Percentages)
Know Whether You're Dealing with Ranks or Scores
Make Sure That the Statistic Used Is the Right One
Ask How the Variable Is Defined
Ask How the Variable Is Defined, and Then Ask What the Criterion Measure Is
Differentiate Practical and Statistical Significance
Look for Trends, Not Snapshots
Beware of Trends
Ask What the Consequences Are Even if the Interpretation of the Data Is True
Beware of Changing Demographics
Try to 'See Through' Graphs
Beware of Big (Small) Numbers
Beware of Generalizations
PART TWO: ASPECTS OF ACHIEVEMENT
The Rise of Testing
Types of Tests
Other Indicators of Achievement
PART THREE: HANDLING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
How Come American Students Fall Farther behind Their International Peers the Longer They Stay in School?
Why Are Test Scores Falling?
How Come Private Schools Do So Much Better Than Public Schools?
Why Don't We Have Vouchers So That the Money Could Follow the Child?
Why Don't We Use Charter Schools as Laboratories for Innovation for the Rest of the System?
Why Are We Throwing Money at the Schools?
Why Are SAT Scores Still Falling?
Why Don't Bright People Go into Teaching?
With All the Talk about Standards and Accountability, Why Aren't Teachers and Principals Held Accountable?