Thursday, July 27, 2006

Testing for Dummies

I really wish the Freakonomics guys would make this their issue:

Schools around the country are now being forced by the immoral "No Child Left Behind" program to judge themselves by the quality of the students they are given. The primary method of judging a school is this- compare how this year's 3rd grade students score to how last year's 3rd grade students score. Given that a school doesn't really control its population, and the result of failing evaluations under nclb is that more good students leave, you basically create a false appearance of schools getting worse year after year.

What should be measured is how much students improve from the beginning of the year to the end (pre-test, post-test). The measure of a non-selective school should not be the quality of the student body, but how well it educates the students it has. We shouldn't confuse good students with good schools. That said, measuring the quality the student body is a good criteria for choosing which neighborhood to live in, you want your child to be with students that are on their level or above, but it has nothing to do with the quality of the teachers, the curriculum, or anything that anyone can do anything about.

Here's what's happening in DC-
They switched tests, so now it looks like schools are getting worse, when really they may not have changed at all.

The next time you hear some idiot complaining about the quality of schools, make sure they aren't complaining about the quality of the students...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Arab Strap

"Stink" by Arab Strap is a sick song. I love it. These guys are for real. It's also some kind of thing that Belle and Sebastian have a song called "the boy from the arab strap". It would make you think that this is some kind of twee-fest, but it's not. As I intimated, it's serious stuff. If you've had it with music for suckers, you should listen to this truth. Forget about the music, just listen to that boy from the arab strap talk. I'd love to hear a tape of him just telling stupid people to shut the hell up.

Drug Prices Down

I find this piece by Gladwell amazing. I find it amazing that the Times did not publish what would be the logically more attention grabbing headline: "Drug Prices Down". It's criminal that our health costs are skyrocketing because people are demanding brand name drugs. If you're reading this in the USA and are on Prozac and have health insurance- I demand you switch to generic fluoxetine. Look, you'll still be happy either way, only this way, I'll be happier too. It's a win-win-lose, but we'll be the winners!

The Times' Drug Problem: "The New York Times led its business section today with the headline: “Drug Prices Up Sharply.” The subject of the piece was a study by AARP showing that prices of prescription drugs rose 3.9 percent in the first three months of this year, four times the rate of inflation. Outrageous!

But wait: it isn’t until you read a little closer that you realize that the price increase just refers to brand-name pharmaceutical prices. And what the article never mentions at all is that the AARP released a second study yesterday, showing that generic drug costs in the

United States were unchanged in the first quarter and fell 0.1 percent over the past year. Here is the key paragraph from the AARP report, which—unbelievably—never made it into the Times piece:

'The rate of increase in average annual change in manufacturer’s list price for generic prescription drugs most widely used by older Americans was about one quarter the rate of general inflation for 2005.” "