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



April 2000 | 224 pages | Corwin

"Gerry Bracey cuts a useful trail through the thicket of educational change that is beset by irresponsible research and highly questionable measurement of learning. By offering examples of misused data and tests, he builds a way to better understanding of these realms by the public."
Harold Howe II, Former high school principal
Hanover, NH

"An American treasure! Bracey sometimes seems to be a modern Don Quixote, fighting lonely battles against the enemies of public education. In this book he explains how to examine anti-school propaganda, spot distortions and inaccuracies, and determine what's really true. It's necessary knowledge for anyone who believes in public education."
Ron Brandt, Former Executive Editor, ASCD

"A skeptics joy! Bracey offers straightforward examples and hard-hitting prose that teach the intricacies of interpreting educational data."
David C. Berliner, Dean and Regents' Professor
College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe

Interpreting what research data REALLY tells us.

Learn to effectively navigate the maze of competing agendas for public education from Gerald W. Bracey, nationally known policy analyst, researcher, and author of the periodic Bracey Report on the Condition of Education. He demystifies the educational data surrounding America's public schools, providing the guide to help educators become better, more critical readers of facts, figures, charts, and graphs.

In this handy question-and-answer format, Bracey looks at nine tough questions and backs up answers with thoughtful explanation. A brief historical look at America's loss of confidence in public schools in presented to show how data have been used to create half-truths and erroneous positions. In addition, the most common test forms are analyzed, illuminating their strengths and weaknesses.

Key issues include:

Interpreting educational research data
Exploring and understanding tests
SAT facts and fictions
Private schools vs. public schools
Teacher and administrator accountability
This guide is a must-have for educators to better understand and respond to tough questions asked by parents, students, and the community about public school education in America today.


 
Introduction
Why You Need a Book Like This  
 
PART ONE: PRINCIPLES OF DATA INTERPRETATION, OR, HOW TO KEEP FROM GETTING STATISTICALLY SNOOKERED
 
Beware of Averages
 
Follow the Money
 
Beware of the Uncritical Acceptance of Convenient Conclusions
 
Watch for Selectivity in the Data
 
Show Me the Data!
 
Beware of Nostalgia
 
Beware of Causal Explanations from Correlational Data
 
Be Aware of Whether or Not the Statistics Used Are Numbers or Rates (Percentages)
 
Know Whether You're Dealing with Ranks or Scores
 
Make Sure That the Statistic Used Is the Right One
 
Ask How the Variable Is Defined
 
Ask How the Variable Is Defined, and Then Ask What the Criterion Measure Is
 
Differentiate Practical and Statistical Significance
 
Look for Trends, Not Snapshots
 
Beware of Trends
 
Ask What the Consequences Are Even if the Interpretation of the Data Is True
 
Beware of Changing Demographics
 
Try to 'See Through' Graphs
 
Beware of Big (Small) Numbers
 
Beware of Generalizations
 
PART TWO: ASPECTS OF ACHIEVEMENT
 
The Rise of Testing
 
Types of Tests
 
Other Indicators of Achievement
 
PART THREE: HANDLING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
 
How Come American Students Fall Farther behind Their International Peers the Longer They Stay in School?
 
Why Are Test Scores Falling?
 
How Come Private Schools Do So Much Better Than Public Schools?
 
Why Don't We Have Vouchers So That the Money Could Follow the Child?
 
Why Don't We Use Charter Schools as Laboratories for Innovation for the Rest of the System?
 
Why Are We Throwing Money at the Schools?
 
Why Are SAT Scores Still Falling?
 
Why Don't Bright People Go into Teaching?
 
With All the Talk about Standards and Accountability, Why Aren't Teachers and Principals Held Accountable?

 "An American treasure! Necessary knowledge for anyone who believes in public education."

Ron Brandt
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

 "An indispensable resource for those interested in making sense of the conflicting claims of both the political right and left. His chapters on ‘seeing through graphs’ and ‘other indicators of achievements’ as well as his discussion of the Simpson paradox, are essential reading for both consumers and producers of educational research. Recommended for graduate students, researchers, professionals, and general readers."

F. Galloway
University of San Diego
Choice Magazine

"Bracey provides readable review of how basic statistics are used in measuring student success. {He has} an uncanny ability to discover misinterpretations of public school achievements {and} gives practical advice on how educators can be both responsive and pro-active." 

Roland M. Smith
Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Arkansas

"A skeptics joy! Bracey offers straightforward examples and hard-hitting prose that teach the intricacies of interpreting educational data." 

David C. Berliner, Dean and Regents' Professor
College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe

"In this methodologically insightful book, Bracey provides a statistical roadmap for interpreting the data pertaining to the achievement of US schools. It should serve as an indispensable resource for those interested in making sense of the conflicting claims of both the political right and left."

F. Galloway, University of San Diego
CHOICE, 2001

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ISBN: 9780761976035
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