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Uneducated Guesses: Using Evidence to Uncover Misguided Education Policies

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What statistical evidence shows us about our misguided educational policies Uneducated Guesses challenges everything our policymakers thought they knew about education and education reform, from how to close the achievement gap in public schools to admission standards for top universities. In this explosive book, Howard Wainer uses statistical evidence to show why some of t What statistical evidence shows us about our misguided educational policies Uneducated Guesses challenges everything our policymakers thought they knew about education and education reform, from how to close the achievement gap in public schools to admission standards for top universities. In this explosive book, Howard Wainer uses statistical evidence to show why some of the most widely held beliefs in education today--and the policies that have resulted--are wrong. He shows why colleges that make the SAT optional for applicants end up with underperforming students and inflated national rankings, and why the push to substitute achievement tests for aptitude tests makes no sense. Wainer challenges the thinking behind the enormous rise of advanced placement courses in high schools, and demonstrates why assessing teachers based on how well their students perform on tests--a central pillar of recent education reforms--is woefully misguided. He explains why college rankings are often lacking in hard evidence, why essay questions on tests disadvantage women, why the most grievous errors in education testing are not made by testing organizations--and much more. No one concerned about seeing our children achieve their full potential can afford to ignore this book. With forceful storytelling, wry insight, and a wealth of real-world examples, Uneducated Guesses exposes today's educational policies to the light of empirical evidence, and offers solutions for fairer and more viable future policies.


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What statistical evidence shows us about our misguided educational policies Uneducated Guesses challenges everything our policymakers thought they knew about education and education reform, from how to close the achievement gap in public schools to admission standards for top universities. In this explosive book, Howard Wainer uses statistical evidence to show why some of t What statistical evidence shows us about our misguided educational policies Uneducated Guesses challenges everything our policymakers thought they knew about education and education reform, from how to close the achievement gap in public schools to admission standards for top universities. In this explosive book, Howard Wainer uses statistical evidence to show why some of the most widely held beliefs in education today--and the policies that have resulted--are wrong. He shows why colleges that make the SAT optional for applicants end up with underperforming students and inflated national rankings, and why the push to substitute achievement tests for aptitude tests makes no sense. Wainer challenges the thinking behind the enormous rise of advanced placement courses in high schools, and demonstrates why assessing teachers based on how well their students perform on tests--a central pillar of recent education reforms--is woefully misguided. He explains why college rankings are often lacking in hard evidence, why essay questions on tests disadvantage women, why the most grievous errors in education testing are not made by testing organizations--and much more. No one concerned about seeing our children achieve their full potential can afford to ignore this book. With forceful storytelling, wry insight, and a wealth of real-world examples, Uneducated Guesses exposes today's educational policies to the light of empirical evidence, and offers solutions for fairer and more viable future policies.

46 review for Uneducated Guesses: Using Evidence to Uncover Misguided Education Policies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Zucker

    I will admit I didn't read the whole thing, mostly skimmed. I think I would have liked it even less if I'd read it more closely. The author is pompous and pedantic, writing as though quoting famous philosophers will make his argument stronger. There are a few high points that make the book not a total waste, but for the most part there's lots and lots of detail about how to do statistical analysis rather than any argument that the things being analyzed are at all meaningful. Most of it is at the l I will admit I didn't read the whole thing, mostly skimmed. I think I would have liked it even less if I'd read it more closely. The author is pompous and pedantic, writing as though quoting famous philosophers will make his argument stronger. There are a few high points that make the book not a total waste, but for the most part there's lots and lots of detail about how to do statistical analysis rather than any argument that the things being analyzed are at all meaningful. Most of it is at the level of "shoe size is a good predictor of reading ability", which while true is not particularly useful for education policy. Is our goal in admitting students to get the ones who will have the highest GPAs? Is that the only outcome we're trying to predict? I hope not, but he often acts like that's the only way to validate any admissions decisions. There are some good statistics lessons in there, though, but nothing really new. It might make a good bit for an intro stats class here and there, giving a real-world use of some of the things students would be learning. There are a few good points about when it's possible to compare the seemingly incomparable, and when trying to make those comparisons is just a waste of time. I think the part I found most useful for myself was the idea that you can use PSAT scores to estimate how many students "should" be able to pass AP Calculus, and then compare that with the number of students enrolling in the course and the number actually passing to see if a school is doing a particularly good or bad job of recruiting and preparing students. Maybe I only liked it because it supports my preconception that a lot of schools (especially ones near the top of various rankings) throw up way too many obstacles to kids and prevent them from achieving what they're capable of.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Munn

    If you can get past the author's pompous tone, there are some interesting ideas in here, although the treatment of the topics is uneven (the discussion around the various uses of tests is at least thought-provoking, while the value-added chapter totally short-circuits due to a straw-man set-up). If you can get past the author's pompous tone, there are some interesting ideas in here, although the treatment of the topics is uneven (the discussion around the various uses of tests is at least thought-provoking, while the value-added chapter totally short-circuits due to a straw-man set-up).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    My review is coming out on http://wwww.beyondchron.org this Thursday. My review is coming out on http://wwww.beyondchron.org this Thursday.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Lubell

    This book is about how data and math can be so easily misused. I think the author's biases affected his choice of material, if not the math. This book is about how data and math can be so easily misused. I think the author's biases affected his choice of material, if not the math.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Dibbs

  6. 4 out of 5

    Corinne Huggins Manley

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dandan Chen

  9. 4 out of 5

    Javier Canas

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Miltenberg

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dana Weisenfeld

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alan Peterson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Smith

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  17. 4 out of 5

    Toby

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Martin

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  20. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Craig Wells

  24. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Love

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Culbertson

  26. 4 out of 5

    Noreen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lonwabo

  28. 4 out of 5

    Davemonico

  29. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  31. 4 out of 5

    Trisha LeBoeuf

  32. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

  33. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  34. 4 out of 5

    Brian A

  35. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

  36. 4 out of 5

    Erica

  37. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  38. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  39. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  40. 4 out of 5

    Whatwhenwhere

  41. 4 out of 5

    Joy

  42. 4 out of 5

    George

  43. 5 out of 5

    Eric Kalenze

  44. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Mintken

  45. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  46. 4 out of 5

    Nate

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