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Thompson: The False Allure Of Statistics

MoneyballData-driven school "reform" came of age as Bill James's Sabermetrics was creating "moneyball."  Follow Alexander's link to the discussion at the Atlantic Wire about the effect of James's statistics on baseball, and see how the same lessons apply to education reform.  Especially when it comes to actually playing the game, "stats only go so far"  because they "are much better at illustrating the past than predicting the future."  They cannot measure team chemistry, infectious optimism, or a player's (or a teacher's) sheer presence.  The lure of statistics has had a dramatic impact for the worse for fans (and education wonks) who have "never felt or contributed to the rhythm of the game" or the classroom.  When it comes to explaining human behavior, these stories can "give us control—or, more accurately, the illusion thereof." I would add another point about the biggest misunderstanding of data in education: the sophisticated use of stats in sports built upon generations of experience in coaching players to improve.  School reformers, however, first tried to reward and punish with numbers, without taking the obvious first step of  using numeric and verbal storytelling to improve the performance  of schools and educators. - JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

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