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How many NYC kids take ACTs?

August 28, 2010 am31 9:05 am

1500 just a few years ago, 5000 last year. And what follow-up questions should we have?

At Gotham Schools, they had none. I have previously complained about the bias embedded in their reporting. But this was just lousy journalism. (I explain more in the third comment some of which is copied below the fold)

1. You’ve provided no source for your data. (I assume these are regurgitated NYCDOE numbers?)
2. You’ve failed to define NYC student. (I want to assume these are public school students? Did you include charters? Private schools? Parochial? Hunter?)
3. You’ve compared 1500 students five years ago with 5000 this year. Are they comparable? From similar schools? Some racial or ethnic breakdown?

I don’t believe that there is any reason to suspect the comparison is meaningful. We have what, 80,000 high school seniors? A participation rate of 2% and a participation rate of 6% a few years later. Tiny samples. This makes bias from non-random self-selection seem awfully likely.

I suspect strongly that in academically stronger high schools there has been a push to encourage more students to take ACTs, as they tend to measure content knowledge more (than the SATs, which attempt to measure aptitude).

4. Given that the groups of test-takers are not comparable, it is beside the point, but you call the change in average score “a modest gain, but one that carries weight.” Shouldn’t you have reported that as either “significant” or “not significant” and done the work or asked the questions to determine which it was?

This is not good reporting. Think about this.

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