This week’s TIME School of Thought takes a look at Moneyball and schools. (And while you’re there be sure to check out TIME’s new ideas and opinion vertical). At one level I’m all for this, of course better use of data can help improve schools. But there are technical and cultural barriers to address before such tools can really have systemic impact. And they also need to be balanced with training and judgement. Or put another way, there is a lesson in what happened to this year’s Boston Red Sox that applies to public schools.
Data analysis is so trendy these days that Brad Pitt is getting millions of people to sit through a movie about quantitative methodology. Moneyball, based on the 2003 bestseller by Michael Lewis, traces the rise of new methods that the Oakland A’s used to identify undervalued baseball players so the team could win more games with a smaller payroll. A lot of education reformers are calling for a similar approach to evaluate teachers and improve student performance. Given that I’m a longtime reformer and love baseball, you’d think I’d be all over this idea. But there are some significant strikes against a Moneyball approach to education.
Here’s an easy quantitative method: 1 click on this link here gets you to the entire column for free over at TIME.com.