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Thread: Elementary School MCAS scores

  1. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    So funny, I can see them, the educators, sitting ‘round the table saying, “gee, only 40% of our students got question #44 right, they don’t seem to understand how this type of analogy works, guess we’ll have to work with/teach more of those kind of analogies before next year.”

    For all their analysis, I haven’t heard an explanation of their understanding of the difference between CH and HH (my apologies to Lawrie’s request for statistical significance… what is “significant”) but the “detailed analysis” does seem to imply that they teach to the test, for whatever that’s worth.
    You miss a key part of the process: our educators use the MCAS item analysis as input to a conversation that includes consideration of *whether* "those kind of analogies" (to use your example) are important within our educational philosophy.

    I've got no problem teaching to the test ... as long as it's a good test.

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    Thinking back to Post 44 in this thread and a few that follow, I was amused to come across this gem today:

    Data is not information, and information is not knowledge: knowledge is not understanding, and understanding is not wisdom.
    -Philip Adams

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Thinking back to Post 44 in this thread and a few that follow, I was amused to come across this gem today:

    Data is not information, and information is not knowledge: knowledge is not understanding, and understanding is not wisdom.
    -Philip Adams
    I agree with all four of these distinctions. When I drew the distinction between data and information earlier in this thread, you disagreed:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Dave, the difference is at best semantic but not meaningful, in my opinion. And I'd include knowledge in that mix of different ways to name facts: data = information = knowledge. Wisdom, that's on a higher plane.
    Have you changed your position?

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    One beauty (or curse, depending on how you look at it) of English is its large vocabulary relative to other languages.

    Once could certainly define "data", "information", and "knowledge" to have somewhat different meanings, but those differences would lie, in my opinion, in the realm of nuance. In essence, they are all facts.

    Similarly, "understanding" and "wisdom" are similar to one another (and distinct from the three words above). I can see arguments for "wisdom" being the king of this particular heap of words, but the two boil down to facts well applied.

    Now, if we want to inject "grok" (from Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land) into the conversation, we can put all of the above to shame.

    So no, I haven't really changed my thinking on this particular topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    So no, I haven't really changed my thinking on this particular topic.
    Then why did you post the Adams quote and characterize it as a gem?

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    Because I'm not afraid of opinions that differ from mine. Also, because I like sharing amusement.

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    BTW, it's not immediately clear exactly who Philip (or perhaps Phillip) Adams is nor why a quote from him would carry more weight than the average person on the street. (I did, however, find the quote on the always fun Internet Anagram Server.)

    I also found the quote attributed to Clifford Stoll, attributed to Frank Zappa, and in the title block of a blog.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Because I'm not afraid of opinions that differ from mine. Also, because I like sharing amusement.
    Perhaps an example will convince you that the Adams quote is more than common blog fodder:

    Data: 36,930,000 numbers produced by an image sensor, each in the range of 0 to 255; while each of these numbers represents a “fact”, some numbers are distorted by manufacturing variations, cosmic radiation, and optical defects.

    Information: When organized as an array of 5000 by 2462 triples, each triple specifying a single pixel’s red, green, and blue magnitudes, the 36,930,000 numbers represent an image of Horse Shoe Bend on the Colorado River.

    Knowledge: Sediment suspended in a river will erode its banks at a rate proportional to the speed of the water at each bank. Sediment suspended in a river will be deposited at a rate inversely proportional to the speed of the water. Water in a river moves more rapidly on the outside of a curve and more slowly on the inside of a curve.

    Understanding: As a mature river begins to curve, it cuts and erodes into the outside of the curve and deposits sediment on the inside of the curve. As erosion and deposition continue over eons, the curve becomes larger and more circular.

    Wisdom: Beautiful geological features require eons to form, but can be destroyed in a heartbeat. We should act aggressively to preserve them.

    Grok it now?
    Last edited by Dave Bernstein; 10-27-2009 at 11:41 PM.

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    Dave, eloquently put, and really nothing to disagree with. That's not to say, however, that your usage is the only way to apply these words. In your "hierarchy," I contend that "data" and "information" could be applied to either of your first two uses. And, you could swap in "understanding" for "wisdom" with no real loss of meaning.

    Getting back to where this "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" digression began, I introduced the educational term-of-art "data-driven instruction" to which you objected, suggesting the use of "information" instead. I countered that the two words were essentially synonymous, particularly in that application.

    For instance, let's consider the case of a quick screening assessment for reading. The output is data (information, or even knowledge) showing that the student is one of a handful reading below benchmark. That data, however, isn't enough to understand what to do to correct the problem.

    Based on that data/information/knowledge, the educator next administers a longer diagnostic assessment to the smaller group of students. The result is an understanding (wisdom) of why the students are struggling and what instructional intervention to put in place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Getting back to where this "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" digression began,
    I strongly disagree with this characterization.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I introduced the educational term-of-art "data-driven instruction" to which you objected, suggesting the use of "information" instead.
    No, you have not (before now) introduced that term-of-art anywhere in this thread. What you said was

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Good point, we shouldn't use data to drive instruction. [grin]
    Returning to the present...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I countered that the two words were essentially synonymous, particularly in that application.

    For instance, let's consider the case of a quick screening assessment for reading. The output is data (information, or even knowledge) showing that the student is one of a handful reading below benchmark. That data, however, isn't enough to understand what to do to correct the problem.

    Based on that data/information/knowledge, the educator next administers a longer diagnostic assessment to the smaller group of students. The result is an understanding (wisdom) of why the students are struggling and what instructional intervention to put in place.
    In any endeavor where thought leads to action, it is essential to characterize the accuracy and relevance of what you know. Failure to do this can lead to incorrect conclusions and inappropriate or counterproductive actions. We rely on words for this characterization; thus the distinctions among data, information, knowledge, understanding and wisdom are anything but trivial. Information, Computer, and Management Science address these distinctions, as do many engineering disciplines; see, for example, Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom and The Origin of the “Data Information Knowledge Wisdom” Hierarchy.

    Interestingly, the latter article credits the poet T.S. Elliot with being the first to mention this hierarchy, in the poem The Rock, published in 1934:

    Where is the Life we have lost in living?
    Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
    Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
    ...to which many would now add "Where is the information we have lost in data?"

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    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    I introduced the educational term-of-art "data-driven instruction" to which you objected, suggesting the use of "information" instead.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    No, you have not (before now) introduced that term-of-art anywhere in this thread. What you said was "Good point, we shouldn't use data to drive instruction. [grin]"
    A distinction without a difference, "using data to drive instruction" being both another educational term of art and synonymous with "data-driven instruction." I'm surprised that the different phrasing threw you off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    In any endeavor where thought leads to action, it is essential to characterize the accuracy and relevance of what you know. Failure to do this can lead to incorrect conclusions and inappropriate or counterproductive actions. We rely on words for this characterization; thus the distinctions among data, information, knowledge, understanding and wisdom are anything but trivial.
    I don't disagree, but the differences run the risk of becoming invisible if one doesn't explicitly or implicitly define them as part of each use. Words might have one meaning in one field and quite another meaning in another field. Data (or information, or ...) might even mean one thing in one usage within a field and another in a different usage within that same field.

    By way of example, you took exception to my "use data to drive instruction," suggesting that "information" would be better then "data." In making such a change, however, you would have been removing clarity from an accepted educational term. In fact, the foundation of "use data to drive instruction" is not data or information, but rather, understanding. A more accurate phrase, then, might be "use understanding to drive instruction," but that's not the phrase in common use.

    A bemused reader might wonder how a thread called "Elementary School MCAS scores" ended up on this odd tangent. Several pages into the thread (Post 41), following a discussion of the use of data/information/knowledge/understanding derived from MCAS scores, you contributed "Lies, damn lies, and statistics. (Disraeli)," from which I inferred that you saw no value in using data/et.al. to drive instruction.

    Note that I don't think that you actually believe that there's no value in doing so, a thought reinforced by your more recent posts. No, I simply think that your original snarky post added nothing positive to the conversation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    A distinction without a difference, "using data to drive instruction" being both another educational term of art and synonymous with "data-driven instruction." I'm surprised that the different phrasing threw you off.
    Had you clearly referred to a term of art, I would have investigated to determine its actual meaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    . Words might have one meaning in one field and quite another meaning in another field. Data (or information, or ...) might even mean one thing in one usage within a field and another in a different usage within that same field.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    By way of example, you took exception to my "use data to drive instruction," suggesting that "information" would be better then "data." In making such a change, however, you would have been removing clarity from an accepted educational term. In fact, the foundation of "use data to drive instruction" is not data or information, but rather, understanding. A more accurate phrase, then, might be "use understanding to drive instruction," but that's not the phrase in common use.
    Some fields use obfuscation to help practitioners differentiate themselves from those not "in the know"; this seems like a textbook example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    A bemused reader might wonder how a thread called "Elementary School MCAS scores" ended up on this odd tangent. Several pages into the thread (Post 41), following a discussion of the use of data/information/knowledge/understanding derived from MCAS scores, you contributed "Lies, damn lies, and statistics. (Disraeli)," from which I inferred that you saw no value in using data/et.al. to drive instruction.
    I simply pointed out the abuse of the data in your attempt to refute the anonymous poster. Your inference was baseless, and likely intended to divert attention to a less-embarrassing topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Note that I don't think that you actually believe that there's no value in doing so, a thought reinforced by your more recent posts.
    It can be dangerous to act on raw data. Now, you reveal that the phrase "using data to drive instruction" is educator-speak for "using understanding to drive instruction", which is much more reasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    No, I simply think that your original snarky post added nothing positive to the conversation.
    You don't consider the exposure of your abuse of the MCAS data to be a positive contribution? I'm shocked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Some fields use obfuscation to help practitioners differentiate themselves from those not "in the know"; this seems like a textbook example.
    Textbook? No pun intended, right? [grin]

    All fields use terminology and shorthand so as to be clear and so as not waste the time of practitioners. That is the case with "data-driven instruction," your apparently uninformed and uncalled for insult notwithstanding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    I simply pointed out the abuse of the data in your attempt to refute the anonymous poster. Your inference was baseless, and likely intended to divert attention to a less-embarrassing topic.

    ...

    You don't consider the exposure of your abuse of the MCAS data to be a positive contribution? I'm shocked.
    While you may have *alleged* an abuse, you did *nothing* of substance to back up that allegation. To date, neither you nor anyone has shown how MCAS data supports the original anonymous contention that the elementary school reconfiguration harmed MCAS scores.

    Hey, at least we're now back on topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    All fields use terminology and shorthand so as to be clear and so as not waste the time of practitioners. That is the case with "data-driven instruction," your apparently uninformed and uncalled for insult notwithstanding.
    Using "data-driven instruction" instead of "understanding-driven instruction" saves 2 syllables (or 9 letters), a poor tradeoff given the large loss of clarity. The charge stands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    While you may have *alleged* an abuse, you did *nothing* of substance to back up that allegation.
    You acknowledged that the data was not sufficient to draw a conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I never said that the data presented here was sufficient to draw any particular conclusion.
    but continued your efforts to induce the conclusion that the data refuted the anonymous poster's assertion. This prompted my invocation of "lies, damn lies, and statistics".


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To date, neither you nor anyone has shown how MCAS data supports the original anonymous contention that the elementary school reconfiguration harmed MCAS scores.
    No one here has claimed that the MCAS data supports the anonymous poster's assertion. What I claim is that this data does not refute that assertion, despite your attempts to use it for that purpose.

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    1. "Anonymous" said reconfiguration caused an MCAS drop.
    2. I contend that MCAS data doesn't even support a *coincident* drop, much less a causal one.
    3. In fact, MCAS data shows a coincident *rise*.
    4. No one has countered either (2) or (3) with any substance.

    I'm not saying that reconfiguration caused the rise. I'm not saying that other factors aren't masking a reconfiguration drop. I'm simply saying that no one has proposed any such factors backed by any evidence.

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