Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow explores common errors that people make when forming impressions and making decisions. For example, we tend to do a very poor job of understanding statistics, leaving individuals, organizations, and governments prone to making unwise choices. One example, about school reform, will be familiar to anyone who read Diane Ravitch’s The Life and Death of the American School System, which I wrote about in a previous post.

In the effort to improve American schools, many initiatives are driven by evidence about what factors good schools have in common. One popular solution is to focus on reducing class, and even school, size. Research shows that a disproportionate number of the most successful schools are small. Experts from a number of prominent institutions, including a US Department of Education initiative, deduced a story from these statistics that said that small schools are more effective at educating students because it’s harder for a student to get “lost in the crowd.”

To understand why they were mistaken, and how they sunk $1.7 billion on an unsuccessful effort to improve schools, visit our blog.

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