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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

global text – education economics meet the net

a quick nod of support to the good people at i’ve got something similar in my notes from around 2002 or 2003, but i didn’t do anything because wikibooks did, sorta. this dovetails nicely with this recent bit:

“Math hasn’t changed since Isaac Newton,” declares Scott McNealy. So why, he asks, is California paying some $400 million annually to “update” grade-school textbooks?

basic education is too important to make as expensive as it is. knowledge is too valuable to limit.

posted by roj at 3:29 pm  

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

size does matter (on the sat)

here comes the “is your essay too small?” spam…

“It appeared to me that regardless of what a student wrote, the longer the essay, the higher the score,” Dr. Perelman said. A man on the panel from the College Board disagreed. “He told me I was jumping to conclusions,” Dr. Perelman said. “Because M.I.T. is a place where everything is backed by data, I went to my hotel room, counted the words in those essays and put them in an Excel spreadsheet on my laptop.”

In the next weeks, Dr. Perelman studied every graded sample SAT essay that the College Board made public. He looked at the 15 samples in the ScoreWrite book that the College Board distributed to high schools nationwide to prepare students for the new writing section. He reviewed the 23 graded essays on the College Board Web site meant as a guide for students and the 16 writing “anchor” samples the College Board used to train graders to properly mark essays.

He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. “I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one,” he said. “If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you’d be right over 90 percent of the time.” The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade.

He was also struck by all the factual errors in even the top essays. An essay on the Civil War, given a perfect six, describes the nation being changed forever by the “firing of two shots at Fort Sumter in late 1862.” (Actually, it was in early 1861, and, according to “Battle Cry of Freedom” by James M. McPherson, it was “33 hours of bombardment by 4,000 shot and shells.”)

so, remember, sat test-takers…. as you prepare for your essay portion this saturday: size does matter.

and if you can’t get it up to 400 words without making things up, make things up. it’s a valuable lesson for the rest of your life.

posted by roj at 3:49 pm  

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