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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Critical numeracy

A growing amount of attention is paid to critical thinking skills in the language arts (critical literacy). What is the author trying to get you to feel? Why would the author choose to portray the main character in this way? What are they trying to get you to think or do about this topic? This increased attention is necessary.

But, what about critical numeracy? There is a saying "numbers don't lie", but they do! There is another saying "50% of all statistics are made up on the spot." You can twist the statistics to say what ever you want them to (or at least appear to).

Some policy makers (politicians, state departments of education, central office staff and even fellow building administrators) do not completely understand the difference between norm referenced and criterion referenced tests or even the difference between percentages and percentiles. Yet, they are making decisions that effect our schools based on their erroneous understanding of the data they see and their unquestioning belief in the research they read.
"We think so because other people all think so; or because – or because – after all we do think so; or because we were told so, and think we must think so; or because we once thought so, and think we still think so; or because, having thought so, we think we will think so…" ~ Henry Sidgwick
What do YOU think?

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