Bail Me Out!: Handling Difficult Data and Tough Questions About Public Schools

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Corwin Press, Apr 11, 2000 - Education - 213 pages
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This guide is designed to take the mystery out of educational research data and to help educators become better, and more critical, readers of facts, figures, charts, and graphs about U.S. public schools. Educators will also become better able to answer the questions of parents, students, and the community. A brief historical look at the loss in confidence in the public schools shows how data have been used to create half-truths and erroneous positions. In addition, the most common test forms are analyzed. The chapters are: (1) "Beware of Averages"; 92) "Follow the Money"; (3) "Beware of the Uncritical acceptance of Convenient Conclusions"; (4) "Watch for Selectivity in the Data"; (5) "Show Me the Data!"; (6) "Beware of Nostalgia"; (7) "Beware of Casual Explanations Made from Correlational Data"; (8) "Be Aware of Whether the Statistics Being Used Are Numbers or Rates (Percentages)"; (9) "Know Whether You're Dealing with Ranks or Scores"; (10) "Make Sure the Statistic Used is the Right One"; (11) "Ask How the Variable Is Defined"; (12) "Ask How the Variable Is Defined--And Then Ask What the Criterion Measure Is"; (13) "Differentiate Practical and Statistical Significance"; (14) "Look for Trends, Not Snapshots"; (15) "Beware of Trends"; (16) "Ask What the Consequences Are Even If the Interpretation of the Data Is True"; (17) "Beware of Changing Demographics"; (18) "Try To 'See Through' Graphs"; (19) "Beware of Big (Small) Numbers"; (20) "Beware of Generalizations"; (21) "The Rise of Testing"; (22) "Types of Tests"; (23) "Other Indicators of Achievement"; (24)"How Come American Students Fall Farther Behind Their International Peers the Longer They Stay in School?"; (25) "Why Are Test Scores Falling?"; (26) "How Come Private Schools Do So Much Better than Public Schools?"; (27) "Why Don't We Have Vouchers so the Money Would Follow the Child?"; (28) "Why Don't We Use Charter Schools as Laboratories for Innovation for the Rest of the System?"; (29) "Why Are We Throwing Money at Schools?"; (30) "Why are SAT Scores Still Falling?"; (31) "Why Don't Bright People Go Into Teaching?"; and (32) "With All This Talk about Standards and Accountability, Why Aren't Teachers and Administrators Held Accountable?" (Contains 157 references.) (SLD)
 

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Contents

Why You Need a Book Like This
1
Principles of Data Interpretation or How to Keep From Getting Statistically Snookered
7
Beware of Averages
11
Follow the Money
14
Beware of the Uncritical Acceptance of Convenient Conclusions
19
Watch for Selectivity in the Data
22
Show Me the Data
28
Beware of Nostalgia
31
Try to See Through Graphs
75
Beware of Big Small Numbers
80
Beware of Generalizations
81
Aspects of Achievement
83
The Rise of Testing
88
Types of Tests
103
Other Indicators of Achievement
112
Handling the Tough Questions
135

Beware of Causal Explanations Made From Correlational Data
38
Be Aware of Whether the Statistics Being Used Are Numbers or Rates Percentages
44
Know Whether Youre Dealing With Ranks or Scores
48
Make Sure the Statistic Used Is the Right One
50
Ask How the Variable Is Defined
54
Ask How the Variable Is DefinedAnd Then Ask What the Criterion Measure Is
56
Differentiate Practical and Statistical Significance
58
Look for Trends Not Snapshots
63
Beware of Trends
67
Ask What the Consequences Are Even If the Interpretation of the Data Is True
68
Beware of Changing Demographics
72
How Come American Students Fall Farther Behind Their International Peers the Longer They Stay in School?
137
Why Are Test Scores Falling?
149
How Come Private Schools Do so Much Better Than Public Schools?
162
Why Dont We Have Vouchers so the Money Would Follow the Child?
168
Why Dont We Use Charter Schools as Laboratories for Innovation for the Rest of the System?
172
Why Are We Throwing Money at Schools?
178
Why Are SAT Scores Still Falling?
183
Why Dont Bright People Go Into Teaching?
185
With All This Talk About Standards and Accountability Why Arent Teachers and Administrators Held Accountable?
189
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Page 212 - AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS 1801 North Moore Street, Arlington VA 22209. 703/528-0700.

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About the author (2000)

Since 1984 Gerald W. Bracey has written a monthly column for Phi Delta Kappan making research accessible to teaching practitioners. In 2003 the column received the Interpretive Scholarship Award from the American Educational Research Association. Bracey spends about half his time as an independent researcher and writer and splits the rest between George Mason University and the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. He has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Stanford University and has held positions in private firms, local school districts, universities, and state departments of education.

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