Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Sometimes a picture isn't worth spit

Take this one in today's WSJ for example. A scatterplot of countries average growth rate over the 41 years from 1960-2000 against their average math test scores in the same period.

And, yes, of course the authors take the graph as causal explaining how that if we could just get our math performance up to the level of Canda's, we would all become way richer (yes I know the graph shows us growing faster than Canada already. The authors certainly could have picked a better example to tout their "theory").

I agree with the authors that K-12 education in America is failing an unacceptably large number of students and I favor reforms and experiments to search for better solutions. But let's not kid ourselves that the graph presented provides us a "menu" where we pick the growth rate we want by achieving the requisite test scores.

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