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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: data

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July 10, 2014 at 5:00 AM

When swimming through data, skeptism can be a life raft

Nancy Ohanian / Op Art

Nancy Ohanian / Op Art

Few news beats offer a monsoon of data equal to that in education.

Numbers frame every argument and initiative. But Mark Twain said it best: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

In other words: Beware the study with provocative findings advertised by a screaming headline that supports one silver-bullet approach or another. A piece from The Atlantic makes this point eloquently, quoting Maine math teacher Tracy Zager:

Public education has always been politicized, but we’ve recently jumped the shark. Catchy articles about education circulate widely, for understandable reason, but I wish education reporters would resist the impulse to over-generalize or sensationalize research findings.

We hear that.


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