January 8, 2013, 11:58 pm :: Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight took questions Tuesday on the popular social news site Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” section. What follows is an edited transcript, with the questions and answers sorted into several subject areas
What are your thoughts on data-driven metrics for teacher evaluation? Do you think a system that accurately reflects teacher value could ever be created, or will it always be plagued by perverse incentives (teaching to the test, neglecting certain types of students, etc)?
Nate Silver: There are certainly cases where applying objective measures badly is worse than not applying them at all, and education may well be one of those.
In my job out of college as a consultant, one of my projects involved visiting public school classrooms in Ohio and talking to teachers, and their view was very much that teaching-to-the-test was constraining them in some unhelpful ways.
But this is another topic that requires a book- or thesis-length treatment to really evaluate properly. Maybe I'll write a book on it someday.
Wikipedia: Nathaniel Read "Nate" Silver is an American statistician, sabermetrician, psephologist, and writer. Silver first gained public recognition for developing PECOTA, a system for forecasting the performance and career development of Major League Baseball players. analyst in national print, online, and cable news media.
The accuracy of his November 2008 presidential election predictions — he correctly predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states — won Silver further attention and commendation. The only state he missed was Indiana, which went for Barack Obama by one percentage point. He correctly predicted the winner of all 35 U.S. Senate races that year.
In the 2012 United States presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, he correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. That same year, Silver's predictions of U.S. Senate races were correct in 31 of 33 states; he predicted Republican victory in North Dakota and Montana, where Democrats won.