professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Survey Says...

Under the heading of beating a dead horse, I come once more to speak up about surveys and how results are manipulated to produce the desired headline. Case in point, the following headline from a tweet caused me to click on the link (that much accomplished): "Survey: More Educators Think 'Just the Right Amount' of Time Is Spent on Testing." I clicked on the link because I thought, of course, that this could not be true. And so I read the blog posting from Ed Week, and I encourage you to do the same.

Here is the tiny kernel of truth behind the headline: the percentage of teachers who think all the time spent in test prep has increased from 2011 to 2013. The increase for the amount of time for students being just right grew from 28% to 38%; the percentage of time for teachers being just right also incresed from 36% to 42%. You can read the blog post here:

But do examine the lovely pie charts closely (close reading?) to note that more than HALF of all teachers think too much time is spent on test prep for teachers and for students. Only district administrators think that the time spent is just about right. What conclusions might we draw from this? Please feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

Now, take a look at how else we can skew data:


By combining "very important" and "somewhat important" the chart makes it look like kids are head over heels about tests. Yet, the final paragraph of the piece is this: " Eighty-nine percent of students said that tests results aren't very helpful to them or their teachers after more than one week." Yep, there it is: the truth behind the headline.
Tags: purple prose, skews, surveys, yellow journalism
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