This week's COWAbunga Award goes to DoubleDown, who provided his take on NYC's Progress Reports. Readers outside of New York, listen closely - this system could very well become a model for the nation. Here's an excerpt:
You have to feel sorry for the brain trust working on [the Progress Reports]. Up until this week, if you told the American public that you had hired a group of really smart economists to develop some complicated statistical models that explain the entire universe, many people would have been very impressed. But that was before those really smart economists crashed the entire global economy.
(...) To be blunt, the results make no...sense to anyone. Schools shouldn't be jumping all over the place in terms of progress scores or achievement. That is simply not reality. A school that moved up should be proudly proclaiming how they spun gold from wet straw, but the principal says nothing changed. What strange statistical model is spitting out this nonsense?....recoding statistical noise into a letter grade does not an accountability system make.
Now that the results are out and the validity in question for a second year, critics are being told: "Statistics don't lie." But ordinary people know that companies shouldn't be allowed to borrow 30 times more than what they own so they can gamble the money on other stocks. You don't need a Ph.D. in economics to know what that smells like. New York's "Progress Reports" have the same foul stench. Maybe everyone will feel differently about it in 10 or 20 years when we have forgotten the damage done, but right now something about value-added models seems just a bit too...risky.