Running the numbers on the education system

69f0afdc6026b5102908aa330ffa9def

In his latest book, “Uneducated Guesses: Using Evidence to Uncover Misguided Education Policies,” renowned statistician and research scientist Howard Wainer applies the tools of his trade to answer a question that affects every American: What is wrong with our education system?

“Education is a complex system — so is putting out a newspaper or making paper for that matter. To improve a complex system, the worst way to do it is to have a committee, like Education 2020, to make recommendations. Nobody’s that smart,” says Wainer, currently at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “The way to improve things is to have a constant program of experimentation. For example, when you manufacture paper, you may think you can improve things by increasing the acidity of the mixture. You’re making small changes and analyzing them, not doing sweeping things based on panel recommendations.”

In his 13th book, Wainer pokes holes in almost every aspect of conventional education policy — college rankings, admissions, aptitude tests — including a scathing critique of No Child Left Behind.
“This idea of making teachers the villains in this particular mystery is ridiculous,” says Wainer. “To look at a change in test score and attribute it causally to the teacher is absurd. For one thing, you can’t make the comparisons they’re trying to make: Suppose I gained 10 points in French and you gained 10 in physics. Is my French teacher as good as your physics teacher? Was Mozart better at music than Babe Ruth was at hitting? Tests can’t tell you that.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.