1st Edition

Mismeasuring Schools’ Vital Signs How to Avoid Misunderstanding, Misinterpreting, and Distorting Data

By Steve Rees, Jill Wynns Copyright 2023
    292 Pages 34 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    292 Pages 34 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    292 Pages 34 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    This book helps school and district leaders avoid the pitfalls that await those making sense of their school’s data. Whether you're interpreting achievement gaps, graduation rates or test results, you're at risk of reaching a mistaken judgment. By learning about common errors and how they’re made, you'll be ready to choose safer, surer paths to making better sense of the wealth of data in your school or district. The authors help educators build better evidence, see conclusions more clearly, and explain the data more persuasively. 

    Special features Include:

    • "Questions to Spark Discussion" in each chapter encourage school site, district leaders, and board trustees to apply each chapter’s content to their own situations.
    • Data visualizations, together with the authors’ interpretations, will help you learn how to do visual analysis (and reach the right conclusions).

    • Practical tips provide clear guidance.
    • Supplemental resources can be found at the book’s website, k12measures.com, including interactive data visualizations and analytic exercises to help you learn a concept by "doing."

    1. What is Mismeasurement and Where Does It Originate?  2. Twisting Test Results and Missing Sound Evidence of Learning  3. The Hidden Hazards of Interpreting Graduation Rates  4. Gaps Mismeasured, Misattributed and Misunderstood  5. Logic Errors Identifying and Evaluating English Learners  6. Mistaken Ways of Measuring Money, Buildings and People  7. Reducing Barriers to Progress at All Levels


    Steve Rees is founder and current president of School Wise Press consultancy, and leader of its K-12 Measures team.

    Jill Wynns is an urban education policy expert and a twenty-four-year veteran of the San Francisco USD Board of Education.

    "A timely book about the importance of the use of data, facts, and evidence in education. It raised thoughtful questions about how data should be used for what purposes and the ensuing interpretations."
    -- Ellen Mandinach, Senior Research Scientist at WestEd, author.

    "Educators and parents are awash in data, but how can they correctly use it? This thoughtful book points out some of the many ways in which educational data are misused and offers concrete guidance to do better. Any program preparing teachers or school leaders who will be working with assessment or other educational data could benefit from reading this candid, approachable book." 
    -- Morgan Polikoff, Associate Professor of Education at University of Southern California.

    "Mismeasurement of Schools' Vital Signs by Rees and Wynns is a rewardingly accessible and compelling analysis of the misuses and misunderstandings of K-12 educational data. The authors document the problem and identify ways we might overcome our tendency to make those all too frequent, yet avoidable misjudgments that result in costly, negative, life-long impacts on our nation's students. The examples and explanations are relatable and easy-to-follow. Each chapter's "questions to spark conversation" invite meaningful examination of educational effectiveness data by educators, leaders, and governing boards. This book is a bold and forthright consideration of the bumpy terrain of K-12 educational assessment. At a minimum it should be required reading in teacher preparation and administrative leadership programs across the county. Parents, teachers, school board members, educational leaders, commentators, and policy makers will discover it to be a refreshingly frank and constructive resource worthy of serious attention."
    -- Carol Gittens, Dean, Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary's College of California.

    "Education suffers from an overabundance of well-meaning B.S. and a worrisome shortage of useful B.S. detectors. In this accessible volume, through case studies and clear prose, Steve Rees and Jill Wynns have sought to provide just that to community and educational leaders seeking a better way to gauge how schools are doing." 
    -- Frederick Hess, Scholar, author, speaker. Director of Education Policy Studies at American Enterprise Institute.

    "While it may be frightening to many parents and educators to learn that the data being used and frequently misinterpreted to determine the quality of a school is flawed, take heart. These education veterans (Jill served as a school board member for 24 years and Steve has been analyzing education test data for almost as long) have provided a path to improvement, if not enlightenment. First of all, they take the complex concepts of testing and make it comprehensible for the rest of us. Then, after clearly detailing what is wrong with education data and how it is reported, they take the time to give school administrators, other education leaders, and board members specific questions to ask which will uncover the problems and lead to correcting how the entire process of assessment is conducted. They also have provided detailed suggestions as to when and where the corrections should start; specifically in pre-service teacher training programs and all the way through the staff at State Departments of Education. Finally, they are urging continued discussions and further research, so let's get the conversation started."
    -- Barbara Nemko, Superintendent, Napa CoE.

    "This book should be read by every school board member, superintendent, school principal, education reporter, and advocate.  Rees and Wynns have spent decades wrestling with the measurement of school quality, and they understand the mistakes that have so often misled us. In clear and concise prose, sprinkled with real-world examples, they identify smart measurement methods that will help our state, district, and school leaders avoid those all-too-common errors."
    -- David Osborne, Author, Reinventing America’s Schools, Reinventing Government, and other books on modernizing our public institutions.

    "As Rees and Wynns demonstrate, in public education we too often measure the wrong things, in the wrong ways. If we’re going to improve the lives of children, we have to learn how to measure what matters, accurately, and then understand what it means. Mismeasuring Schools’ Vital Signs is a good place to start."
    --From the review in The 74 (the74million.org) by David Osborne, author and recently retired director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s K-12 education work.