Sentences to Ponder


1. Analysis of Teach to One and other ed tech math programs

“The 47% gains translates into an effect size of .35. I think there is every reason to believe that if TTO is evaluated in a randomized trial, the effect size will be prove to be smaller than that. Probably in the .2 range … that seems to be within the range of what computer-assisted math instruction has to offer at this point: smallish but non-trivial gains on the kinds of mathematics that we test using standardized test (which, as Dan Meyer shows in a great post recently, misses many of the most important parts of mathematics instruction, more on that in the future).”

2. The tricky ethics of intergalactic colonization

“Key to most great leaps is at least one overconfident investor; in 15th-century Asia, the emperor played that role. Our society, vastly richer than early-modern China, has no lack of would-be successors. Look at the billionaires jumping into commercial spaceflight: Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin, Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, Naveen Jain with Moon Express, Elon Musk with SpaceX. Eventually humankind will push into space no matter what the expected cost-benefit ratio. Those first adventurers will have one advantage over their early-modern predecessors. Future starfarers will know about Zheng, Cortés, Drummond, and Paterson. They will understand that the outbound voyage, no matter how complicated and expensive, is only the beginning.”

3. Majority of NYC teacher trainee graduates fail literacy test

“State Education Commissioner John King said New York needs better-prepared teachers, and the findings show many teacher-prep programs need to straighten out — or shut down. ‘It’s better to have fewer programs that better prepare teachers than having many schools that have teachers who are unprepared for the classroom,’ King said.”

4. UNICEF calls 2014 one of worst years on record of children

“The year 2014 has been one of the worst on record for the world’s children, the United Nations said on Monday in a report that chronicled a litany of war, violence, atrocities and disease, mostly in the Middle East and Africa.”

As I noted on twitter, I’m highly, highly skeptical that 2014 was one of the worst years on record for children. In no way am I trying to minimize the tragedy of the conflicts that ravaged children’s lives in 2014. But in 1990, 43.5% of the developing world lived in extreme poverty. Currently, about 15% do. From everything I’ve seen, it was much worse to be a child in 1990 than it is in 2014.

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