Monday, April 17, 2017

CCSD's Suspension Stats Don't Tell the Tale

Image result for how to lie with statistics cartoons

What difference does it make if one Charleston County school has recorded more suspensions than another? Are we to assume that the fewer the suspensions, the better the discipline, or what? Meeting Street Schools programs suspend more students: does that statistic mean that its students need more discipline or that discipline at those schools is Draconian? If there were no suspensions at North Charleston High, does that mean there was no discipline either?

Let's put this another way: would statistics matter if Mt. Pleasant Academy had a much higher suspension rate that Meeting Street @ Brentwood, or vice versa? Why?

Trying to make an issue out of suspension rates is a red herring. What really matters is learning. If "sweating the small stuff" leads to a better learning environment, who's to quarrel? Adherents can massage statistics to support almost anything. Keep in mind that old book, How to Lie with Statistics. It should be required reading for all.

Or as Darrell Huff puts it, "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics."

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