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



May 2000 | 224 pages | Corwin
Bail me Out is a guide to the interpretation of test data pertaining to the performance of American public schools.
 
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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