Thursday, November 29, 2012

Measuring Performance

One of the exercises I do in class involves the relevance of statistics. In state and local government classes we often discuss the fact that Texas ranks in the bottom five of student per capita spending for public education. The question to be asked is; do the dollars spent indicate the quality of education received. In other words if Texas spent as much as California per student would we improve our education. Do dollars equate with performance?

The obvious answer should be that it is practically impossible to compare a dollar spent in California to a dollar spent in Texas for any purpose. If we were talking about road repairs we could see that the cost of labor and materials and contractors in Texas would be much lower than the cost in California. When the discussion relates to education then we not only go between costs of living in the two states but we also deal with the very basic question of whether spending more gets better classrooms.

While Texas is among the lowest per capita for public education the District of Columbia is among the highest. How is that working out for you, Mr. Duncan?

DC Wins Worst

It appears you can wallpaper the school room with $20 bills and if the teachers aren't qualified, the parents aren't involved, the students don't participate, and the standards aren't realistic you won't get results. But let's keep trying anyway

The 2010-11 graduation rates are preliminary, state-reported data, according to the federal government and the Education Department says it will release final rates in the coming months. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said this is the first year for which all states used a common measure.

I'm not sure exactly what this means. Are there other ways of measuring whether a student that starts a high school program graduates at the end of four years than simply looking at the performance? I suppose Sec. Duncan will show us shortly when we see the final figures and the District of Columbia performance improves drastically.


Murphy's Law said...

I work in DC. In most cities, you can tell if it's a school day because you don't see school-age kids everywhere. In DC, they're all over the place, school day or not. All you see during school hours is free-range juvenile delinquents just roaming the city causing trouble instead of sitting in a classroom working towards a future that might not involve an EBT card. It's sad, really.

juvat said...

Ed, don't be silly. Of course there are other ways of measuring.
One way would be to make sure they had passed 3 years of Math, 4 of English, 4 of Social Studies and 4 of Science, as Texas requires.

The other would require attendance in 4 years of Womyn's studies, 4 years of LGBT studies and 4 years of "Why the white male dominated western civilization sucks" studies.

An honest comparison of the two would show the latter to be more diversity inclusive and progressive educational curricula, preparing the state's subjects for their future.

Clearly that would make that curricula higher ranked. Don't you agree?

The Donald said...

I enjoy useful applications of statistical analysis, but find that, regarding the body politic, Mr. Twain's axiom most always rings true.