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Quotes: Uber-Statistician Dismisses Value-Added (Based On Hunches)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comIn my job out of college as a consultant, one of my projects involved visiting public school classrooms in Ohio and talking to teachers, and their view was very much that teaching-to-the-test was constraining them in some unhelpful ways. -- Nate Silver on value-added measures in education


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I have to disagree with your headline here. A hunch is defined as an "intuitive feeling or premonition." The quote you provide from Nate Silver reflects not a hunch, but his opinion based on his first-hand conversations with teachers who are in a very good position to understand the effect of high stakes tests. The willingness of supposed experts to dismiss this sort of understanding on the part of teachers is very telling, and is one of the reasons teachers continue to feel alienated from much of what passes for "reform."

Alexander, is this where you found the quote, or is there other buzz growing around the idea?

If you got it from Larry's blog, you ought to have linked to that. The Q and A exchange isn't about hunches at all, of course. We're asking for an all-out examination of the statistical relevance of the whole "big data" industry to teaching and learning.

I can understand VAM proponents cringing at the thought, but a journalist should be interested in pursuing it. How about adding your voice to the request that Silver look into this matter?

my point is not that value added is great -- i've criticized its misuse frequently on this blog -- but rather that silver was taking a leap out far beyond his knowledge base.

why does that matter? silver has come to fame for his careful statistical analysis of numbers, in contrast to hunches other political pundits typically offer.

in this case, however, silver jumped into the debate like most folks do -- based on a small sample of opinions and his own intuition - which i find ironic and amusing.

i got it off the EWA list, among other places -- not off larry's blog.

To be fair to Nate, the next line is, "But this is another topic that requires a book- or thesis-length treatment to really evaluate properly."

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