Diane Ravitch has blogged about my recent post, John King, the Common Core and cognitive bias. A former Assistant Secretary of Education, she is currently Research Professor of Education at New York University, author of Reign of Error and a fierce defender of public schools. She was alerted to the post by Bruce Frazier, Executive Director, Rural Schools Association of New York at Cornell University. Here is the text of her blog, Why Does John King Stubbornly Cling to His Views, No Matter What Public Says:
This article arrived in my email unexpectedly, and I decided to post it because it contains a good analysis of how decision makers get stuck defending bad decisions.
Sean Brady explains the dangers of cognitive bias. He writes that it is “becoming increasingly apparent that he [King] may be doing more to undermine the implementation of the Common Core than he is doing to support it. For example, his approval of cut points on the 2013 assessments that resulted in the vast majority of the state’s grade 3 – 8 students to be deemed failing has created a firestorm of criticism, galvanized his critics in New York and stalled the implementation of the Common Core in some other states.
“Commissioner King is clearly a very smart man. Why might he take actions that do not support what he is trying to achieve? A search for cognitive biases and fallacies may provide some insight. There are a number to consider. King’s positive assessment of New York’s Common Core implementation despite mounting evidence of serious problems suggests optimism bias. His reference to a few, narrow data sets to defend his policies points to confirmation bias. However, two others seem to be at the the root of his troubles.”
King, he says, suffers from certainty bias and the sunk cost fallacy.
This is well worth reading.
Professor Ravitch blogs at dianeravitch.net, a site which claims to have had nearly 8.3 million page views in less than a year.