Uneducated Guesses challenges everything our policymakers thought they knew about education and education reform, from how to close the achievement gap in public schools to admission standards for top universities. In this explosive book, Howard Wainer uses statistical evidence to show why some of the most widely held beliefs in education today--and the policies that have resulted--are wrong. He shows why colleges that make the SAT optional for applicants end up with underperforming students and inflated national rankings, and why the push to substitute achievement tests for aptitude tests makes no sense. Wainer challenges the thinking behind the enormous rise of advanced placement courses in high schools, and demonstrates why assessing teachers based on how well their students perform on tests--a central pillar of recent education reforms--is woefully misguided. He explains why college rankings are often lacking in hard evidence, why essay questions on tests disadvantage women, why the most grievous errors in education testing are not made by testing organizations--and much more.
No one concerned about seeing our children achieve their full potential can afford to ignore this book. With forceful storytelling, wry insight, and a wealth of real-world examples, Uneducated Guesses exposes today's educational policies to the light of empirical evidence, and offers solutions for fairer and more viable future policies.
Howard Wainer is distinguished research scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners and adjunct professor of statistics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. For twenty-one years, he was principal research scientist at Educational Testing Service. His many books include Picturing the Uncertain World: How to Understand, Communicate, and Control Uncertainty through Graphical Display and Graphic Discovery: A Trout in the Milk and Other Visual Adventures (both Princeton).
"[T]hought-provoking. . . . He questions the anecdotal and statistical evidence that underpins many of today's education policies and reform efforts."--Library Journal
"An absolutely absorbing book. Feels like a must for politicians, reformers, educators--math educators in particular."--Cut the Knot Insights
"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? . . . 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."--Bruce Walsh, Metro
"[Wainer's] overall message rings clear and true for much more than assessment: Policy that is formed without full analysis of the breadth of data available on a topic is policy that will fail."--Laurent Rigal, Education Gadfly
"Tired of yelling at the TV when he saw news accounts of policy changes based on flawed evidence, Wainer uses his book to present evidence to help assess 11 such trends, including the entrance-exam-optional policies in many colleges and teacher evaluations based on student performance. . . . Wainer applies more than statistical evidence to education policy; he also brings common sense to bear."--Maureen Downey, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"With its timely reminder that high stakes decisions often rely on anecdotes, laden with emotion, and that 'the plural of anecdote is not data,' Uneducated Guesses ought to be read by anyone who is concerned about the weaknesses (and wrong-headed assumptions) in current educational policies."--Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Howard Wainer: