Wednesday, March 25, 2009

BIPPS Corrects Errors

It took a while, but in a note attached to yesterday's weekly audio blast, Bluegrass Institute Communications Director Jim Waters corrected errors pointed out by KSN&C in last week's audio.

A Bluegrass Audio commentary released Monday contained the incorrect date for implementation of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS). House Bill 53, which established CATS as the state's testing system, was passed into law by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1998. Also, schools no longer receive funding based on CATS scores.
Waters stopped short of admitting that, as a result, his conclusions were all wrong.

He had used some factually incorrect information...

" money to schools based on their test scores. The higher its students score on CATS the more money the school gets."
as a basis for an argument...

"Therefore, schools have focused class content solely on CATS material."
The conclusion was 180 degrees wrong -not solely because it was based on faulty information - but partly because Waters formed his conclusion before he gathered his data. It's what researchers call pseudo-science.

In fact, the only schools to receive assistance were those that were not performing well on the CATS.

Schools have focused largely on CATS material because a strong state accountability system had put great pressure on schools to produce better numbers. Since school principals were unable to control for serious problems - like insufficient funding to deliver enhanced instructional services or the fact that too many students' home lives negatively affected school performance -they were left with the only tools they had - "motivation" of teachers.

Of course, that system is now gone.

It is only because we had an accountability system that we knew a lot of schools weren't going to make the grade. That prompted some administrative folks to panic and wade into instructional areas with broad "solutions" that they might not have implemented otherwise. They ratcheted up the pressure on teachers to perform at higher levels as measured by the test.

As for BIPPS, factual mistakes and other errors can happen in any human endeavor. It is only proper that Waters made the corrections.

But those errors when added to BIPPS's prior exaggerations of research data - threaten to place BIPPS on the very edge of credible scholarship. And BIPPS uses its role in scholarship as partial justification for its 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt status. If BIPPS is going to claim that its work is based on scholarship, then we are owed at least one more retraction.

On the other hand, If BIPPS is simply a political group expressing its opinions without any particular adherence to the principles of good science - as seems more likely - fine. But claiming to be one thing while acting like another is inherently dishonest and should be guarded against.

Yesterday's retraction is a step in the right direction.

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