Petrilli’s Hammer & the poverty has nothing to do with PISA argument

Mike Petrilli’s argument that poverty has nothing to do with PISA scores gets brilliantly hammered by Bruce Baker at School Finance 101.

School Finance 101

Mike Petrilli over at TB Fordham has made his case for why differences in national economic context do little to substantively explain variations in PISA scores.

He frames his argument in terms of Occam’s Razor, as if to sound well informed, deeply intellectual and setting the stage to share profound logical argument, summarized as follows:

“among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

Petrilli asserts that while some might perceive a modest association (actually, it’s pretty strong) between national economic context and average tested outcomes in math, for example… like this…


…that it is entirely illogical to assert that child poverty has anything to do with national aggregate differences in math performance at age 15.

That is, the various assumptions that must be made to accept this crazy assertion – that economic context matters in math performance – simply don’t hold water in…

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