The Lake Wobegone Effect

The crazies driving the noisy, corporate-sponsored “school reform movement” exposed by my old friend Mike Klonsky—take a look:

I rarely take statistics seriously when it comes to teacher evaluation. Especially when they’re based on student test scores and published in the New York Times. But this one is too good to pass up.

At Public School 234 in TriBeCa, where children routinely alight for school from luxury cars, roughly one-third of the teachers’ ratings were above average, one-third average and one-third below average.

I mean, except in Lake Wobegon, isn’t this what average means (no pun intended)? It’s the perfect distribution. If you fired the bottom third, wouldn’t one-third still be below average?

The Times story continues:

At Public School 87 on the Upper West Side, where waiting lists for kindergarten spots stretch to stomach-turning lengths, just over half the ratings were above average. The other half were average or below average on measure, based on student test scores.

Amazing! Half above and half below average. How do they do it?
If this trend continues, we can only assume that in New York City (and in the universe as a whole), half the teachers will be above average, and half below. And if these ratings are based on test scores, that must hold true for students as well.
Fire the “bad teachers!” In a few years we’ll have that one great teacher—above average—still standing. That’s the ticket.

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