When measures meet reality

In response to Mekka Okereke:

The 10 women might answer the “Can people from all backgrounds succeed here” question with an answer of only 50% positive.

The 100 men, after observing the women’s experience, usually lower their scores.🤯 They might now answer the question with an average score of 70% positive.

This is a good thing!

The world that exists in the minds of your men employees, and the one that exists in the minds of your women employees, are coming closer into alignment with the way the world actually exists.

(Full thread)

This reminds me of “A Nation At Risk”, the Reagan-era report about the state of American education. It lamented lower average SAT scores, which was true but misleading. At the time, the college-bound population was growing. More students who had generally been excluded (including women, Black people, people from low-income backgrounds) were able to attend. This means the pool of SAT test-takers was bigger and more diverse than in prior years.

The dip reflected not a decline in the overall quality of education, but a more holistic picture of the landscape at the time. When the scores were separated by subgroup, most groups’ averages had actually improved from previous years (Simpson’s paradox). That said, this exposed long-lived inequities between the opportunities afforded to these groups that needed (and still need) to be fixed.

With more nuance in reporting and interpretations, the country could have addressed systemic inequities that disproportionately limit opportunities available to Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous children. Instead, the one-size-fits-all approach has perpetuated them through policies like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the general obsession with high-stakes testing.

View on Mastodon:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3