Going beyond the Mean in Educational Evaluation.
Evaluations in education often throw away important information because of a penchant for averages. Multiple regression techniques are used to estimate the average effect of policies across schools. And usually the statistic of school performance is the average score of its students, say, on an achievement test. The author suggests some ways of broadening educational evaluations: (1) to consider "outliers," or exceptional performers among schools; and especially (2) to consider other statistics of a school's distribution of scores besides the mean, which have an intuitive link to ill-defined but still meaningful educational objectives like equality, mobility, success with exceptional children, and attainment of certain minimum levels of skills. 36 pp. Ref.