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Data King Nate Silver Isn't Sold on Evaluating Teachers With Test Scores

In a Reddit AMA, Silver expresses his concern about the practice.


Over the past few years one of the most controversial topics in education reform has been measuring teacher effectiveness with standardized tests. Well, on Tuesday, the Jon Stewart-dubbed "Lord and God of the Algorithm," Nate Silver, participated in a Reddit AMA and the top question tackled the issue head-on.

Indeed, user GrEvTh asked Silver, "What are your thoughts on data-driven metrics for teacher evaluation? Do you think a system that accurately reflects teacher value could ever be created, or will it always be plagued by perverse incentives (teaching to the test, neglecting certain types of students, etc)?"

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That moment we've all been waiting for, Jon Stewart's post-Election 2012 interview of Nate Silver happened on Wednesday night. Silver apologized for his one faulty prediction—he miscalled the North Dakota senate race—and Stewart expressed his relief that Silver's data-driven, fact-based approach to predicting the results otherwise proved accurate. If Silver's predictions hadn't proven true, "it would have been a defeat for arithmetic," Stewart quipped.

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Our Type of Hype: Better an Overblown Irene Than Another Katrina

The people moaning about Irene being "overhyped" are forgetting the lessons learned from our now 6-year-old New Orleans tragedy.


Hurricane Irene is over, and it wasn't nearly as bad as had been expected. Thirty-five people have now been confirmed dead, and flooding in Vermont and New York continues to hinder communities, but, for the most part, the carnage wasn't what we'd imagined it would be. If you're in one of the cities hardest hit, you might very well be grateful things weren't worse. Not Howard Kurtz, though. The D.C.-based political pundit was irritated enough by the Irene "hype" that he wrote a whole column about it for the Daily Beast.

"Someone has to say it," he wrote. "Cable news was utterly swept away by the notion that Irene would turn out to be Armageddon. National news organizations morphed into local eyewitness-news operations, going wall to wall for days with dire warnings about what would turn out to be a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest possible ranking."

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