November 12, 2009

Methodoxology

My graduate students are reading Jeff Henig right now, and it appears that few editorial boards or other advocates have taken his argument in Spin Cycle seriously, at least from reactions to the latest sets of charter-school reports issued by think tanks. Ritualistic incantations at the publication of the Brand New Latest Report Showing That Your Deepest Beliefs Are True should be tempered by the possibility that Sean Reardon might soon write a Think Tank Report focusing on the study's methods. Hoxby is a respected economist, and the key point of Reardon's report should be to remind us that one study does not a literature make. As Henig argued, individual studies are drops on the mill's paddles and are very rarely the whole stream. Or as Colorado's Kevin Welner said in response to Reardon's review of the 2009 Hoxby report, even the most enthusiastic reader of a study on one city might wish to "explore the causes rather than to jump to broad conclusions." I will hereby jump to the broad conclusion that this is wise advice.

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Posted in Education policy on November 12, 2009 7:38 PM |