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At Night All Cats are Gray

Posted By: Dick Schutz on March 14, 2008
This study started in 1998-99. The same data included in the report were available then. Eyeballing the data, absent the fancy stat analysis, it’s clear that the clock was striking 13. The CSR schools were if anything below the control schools and both were “way below” the state average. The clear conclusion, although tentative at this early point, is that nothing had changed that was effecting improved test performance.
This finding remained constant throughout the three years of the study. Benjamin Franklin’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The definition seems to fit.

Given the results reported, it seems very unlikely that anything different happened after 2001-02. School likely kept. But the authors could at least have let us peek at those data. The article was apparently originally published in 2005. The follow up data were available then and they were certainly available in the interim. If the authors did any “further research,” as they recommended, it’s not cited. Likely they went on to “more promising” pursuits.

When various (dubious) treatments are all lumped together and outcome measures that are insensitive to any of treatments are used as the dependent variable, one can hardly expect to find any reliable functional relationships. One just wouldn’t do that in any other life sector.

The sad thing is, education inquiry is no more reasonable today than in 1998-99. Same fuzzily wishful independent variables, same lack of monitoring of what is currently transpiring, same insensitive outcome indicators, same pro forma research methodology.

Schools obviously differ in their operations, and these differences obviously have instructional accomplishment consequences, But without more intensive analysis of the differences in antecedents and more sensitive measures of consequences we’ll continue to draw the same faulty conclusion that has been the tradition since Coleman’s faulty example a 40 years ago. Redial Franklin’s definition.

Dick Schutz
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 At Night All Cats are Gray by Dick Schutz on March 14, 2008
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