The Null Hypothesis Strikes Again

Jason Richwine writes,

Now a new report from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), a research division of the Education Department, has poured more cold water on the idea that pursuing better teachers automatically translates to better student performance. The Chicago public-school system implemented a “whole-school” intervention called the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), which was supposed to raise the quality of its teacher workforce. Teachers were given the opportunity to earn performance pay and promotions through a special system of mentoring and observation. Although the literature on TAP is extensive, IES focused on the most reliable study — an experimental evaluation conducted by Mathematica a few years ago. There are questions about how faithfully TAP was implemented in Chicago, and the control group was small, but here is the study’s bottom line: There were no significant gains in student test scores, regardless of grade level or subject area.

Incidentally, I hate the way that the National Review Corner page loads (or doesn’t). Is there some plug-in I should be using that can refuse to download all the junk that they are trying to send me?

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7 Responses to The Null Hypothesis Strikes Again

  1. Adrian Ratnapala says:

    Is there some plug-in I should be using that can refuse to download all the junk that they are trying to send me?

    NoScript perhaps ( The page looks the same to me with and without JavaScript, and yet there are many, many scripts on that page. It took me four iterations to even turn NoScript off.

  2. Chip Morris says:

    For desktop computers, many are finding Ghostery ( very useful. If you sport a modern iPhone or iPad, the new release of iOS 9 coming in September will bring ad-blocking capabilities.

    Here is a discussion by a prominent programmer (who sells ads):

    Hope this helps.

  3. ColoComment says:

    “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing for a profit.” Someone Smart said that here.
    Someone has to pay* for desired product, either in cash or in kind (or in time.) You are “buying” their product (and using it for your own benefit as a vehicle to carry your thoughts and comments, as well, thereby drawing viewers to your blog.)
    Why do you want them to give away what they might sell?
    * TANSTAAFW “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Website.”

  4. Handle says:

    It’s pretty bad. If you are reading on a PC, then use Firefox with both NoScript and AdBlockPlus plugins installed. There are more sophisticated approaches, but that will get you 95% of the way there on most websites.

  5. Russell says:

    How did you educate your own kids? I’m just curious (no agenda)

  6. BillD says:

    And Chicago may also not be a good test site. Chicago Public Schools has been long known as a bureaucratic and financial nightmare. Ol Rahm, no matter if you like him or not, has been shaking up the system. There’s a bid of schadenfreude watching people of presumably the same side – the mayor, the teachers union, and the principals – go after each other. It’s no fun being part of a bankrupt system. And it’s probably not smart to call your boss stupid to his face.

    For minimizing browsing issues:
    AdBlock Plus ( to eliminate (minimize) ads and
    Disconnect ( to minimize tracking and speed page loads.

    With some commentary from a former Apple exec.

  7. Time and again, it’s been demonstrated that teacher cognitive ability doesn’t affect student outcomes. There’s no agreement on teaching methods, although direct instruction seems to have temporary good results with elementary school kids of lower cognitive ability.

    But despite all the failures to find results by varying teacher attributes, we never seem willing to control for student cognitive ability, to see if various methods or teacher attributes have differential impacts on low vs. high IQ kids.

    Apparently, it makes perfect sense to wonder if smarter teachers might get better outcomes, but no sense at all to wonder if smarter students do.

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