Understanding Education Indicators: A Practical Primer for Research and Policy

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In the push to bring data to bear on all of the important education issues of the day, one essential fact is often overlooked: Not all indicators are created equal. This book provides a comprehensive approach for understanding how statistical measures of achievement are developed, evaluated, and interpreted. Given the extent to which accountability measures determine outcomes for schools and students, this practical introduction is essential reading for a wide audience that includes school administrators, teachers, policymakers, and the media. The authors strive to increase "statistical literacy" by engaging readers in the process of becoming thoughtful and critical users of data.

With the practitioner in mind, this hands-on primer:

Outlines a viable approach to interpreting the vast array of available data about education in the United States.

Uses clear, jargon-free language with real examples from local, national, and international indicator systems.

Offers a website (educationindicator.com) with additional resources, examples, and a forum for up-to-the-minute policy discussions.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807751206
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press
  • Publication date: 7/30/2010
  • Series: Multicultural Education Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 An Overview of Indicators 1

What is an Indicator? 3

Types of Indicators 5

Purposes of Indicators 7

History of Education Indicators 9

Qualities of a Good Indicator 11

A Framework for Understanding Indicator Quality 14

Limitations and Distortions 17

Organization of the Book 18

2 Measurement 20

Origins of Indicators 21

Moving from Origination to Conceptualization to Observation 22

Considerations of Reliability and Validity 38

Summary 49

3 Sources of Information and Error 52

Why Does Error Exist? 55

Populations Versus Samples 58

Weighting Samples 64

Nonsampling Error 67

Analysis and Dissemination Errors 74

Summary 75

4 Statistics and Data Presentation 77

Statistical Concepts and Measures 78

Statistical Testing and Statistical Significance 97

Other Considerations for Evaluating Indicator Quality 101

Graphics 116

5 The Misuse of Statistical Indicators 118

Manipulation of Indicators 119

Using Indicators to Advance an Interest 120

So What Can Be Done? 123

Notes 127

References 131

Index 141

About the Authors 148

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