Zombie stats: “dropout rate” as a case in point

Education has a whole host of statistics that are unreliable, that have been unreliable or unnecessary or off-target for years, and that continue to be created, published, and reported on. “Dropout rate” is one of those. It’s been around for more than forty years, crafted in the late 1960s when there was no way to […]

Origins of the “Dropout Problem”: The NanoMovie (Behind the Lens post)

So, I did this overnight: (Original URL: Sordid details: I painstakingly worked for 40 hours to film myself drawing all of the images on the whiteboard we used, and then shrank it down by Hollywood magic. I want to especially thank Joss Whedon for helping with the script. The elephant-piloting-spacecraft scene had to be […]

The number of articles on high school dropouts, 1945-1970, as indexed by the Reader's Guide for Periodical Literature and Education Index

Two decades after “Origins of the ‘dropout problem'”

A Facebook comment today by Alexander Russo reminded me that this fall is the 20th anniversary of Origins of the “Dropout Problem” ($ or JSTOR’s Register and Read program), published by the History of Education Quarterly. The article came out of the part of my dissertation that asked when, how, and why “dropping out” became […]

How you can become an important economist of education: speed past the disruption metaphor

I’ve read the new Rick Hess-Michael Horn edited volume, Private Enterprise and Public Education, and most of the chapters in earlier versions for the Andrew Kelly-Kevin Carey anthology,¬†Stretching the Higher Education Dollar. Given my disappointment over the more general “here’s where the market drives things so don’t harsh or hate so much”¬†chapters, I’ve been trying […]

Sins of presentation: False precision and Just-So Stories of heterogeneity

Most real-world studies of education are messy. Even when you can run a quasi-experimental or even pure randomized controlled trial, life can interfere with research designs. How one handles that messiness is an important factor in how I tend to read studies and evaluate them. That may not be fair, but an attempt to hide […]