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Joel Klein doesn't believe in statistical significance?!

I have to take issue with Klein’s dismissal of statistical significance, as reported by the Sun:

The National Center for Education Statistics also concludes that upward trends in the reading scores of black and Hispanic fourth-graders lauded by Mr. Klein are not statistically significant.

Mr. Klein criticized the National Center on Education Statistics analysis.

“Those are just confidence levels. Nobody is saying this is a science,” Mr. Klein said. He added: “If three points is flat, and four points is statistically significant, then what you’re doing is, you’re playing something of a game.”

Um, Chancellor Klein? Statistical significance isn’t game-playing – it’s a standard measurement of how likely a result is to be non-random. Did test scores rise because of DOE policies, or random chance? Statisticians don’t just draw a line wherever they want – they use widely-accepted significance tests that you learn in any basic stats class. Or perhaps you’re suggesting that the NCES plays with confidence levels to downplay New York’s progress?

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