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Archive for May 16th, 2007

Seed Newsvine

I am posting a short video I made that addresses Pascal’s Wager that simply states that even if the odds for the existence of God or gods is overwhelming, there is the slight chance that one is wrong. If it turns out that God(s) exist then the non-believer risks eternal damnation while the believer is eternally rewarded. If it turns out that there really is no God or God(s) then it makes no difference to the believer or non-believer–nothing is lost in the bargain. So Pascal concludes that on the off chance that there might, in fact, be a God(s) it makes sense to believe.As this video points out, there are substantial flaws in Pascal’s reasoning. Which God(s) does one choose to believe in? Wouldn’t picking the wrong one be tantamount to not picking at all? Isn’t Pascal’s belief merely a belief of convenience and not of conviction; wouldn’t an omnipotent, omniscient God(s) see right through the rouse and leave the pretender in the same position as if he didn’t choose at all?

I think I’ll remain a Bright. There simply isn’t enough evidence to convince me beyond a reasonable doubt that God(s) exist. I’ll not fall into the destructive trap of Pascal’s Wager.

clipped from youtube.com

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Seed Newsvine

Alleged conflict of interest charges now swarm around the DoED’s sponsorship and use of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). DIBELS serves as the flagship assessment instrument for the billion dollar a year Reading First program administered by the DoED.In addition to significant charges of not properly screening consultants, many of whom had financial ties to DIBLES, the DoED appears to have promoted the use of DIBELS over any other early literacy indicator.

Furthermore, DIBELS does not appear to be a good indicator of whether or not children understand what they read. DIBELS also tends to be biased in favor of children that come from literacy-rich environments according to Samuel J. Meisels, president of the Erickson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development.

One study found:

That DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency scores did predict performance on the TerraNova, a standardized achievement test, although students’ performance on DIBELS accounted for less than 20 percent of the variability in those scores. The study also found that students scored poorly on their ability to retell stories they had read, suggesting the tests may be sending a message that reading rapidly is more important than reading for comprehension.

So it seems than not only is there a significant scandal brewing surrounding the use and implementation of the DIBELS instrument, it also seems that the administration that insists on research based teaching and learning eschews research when it comes to promoting their pals and their profits. The emperor has no clothes.

clipped from www.edweek.org
Although teachers in the Moriarty, N.M., public schools report positive experiences with the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, or DIBELS, the assessments have generated a lot of controversy nationally.
The assessment tool, developed by researchers at the University of Oregon, is now approved for use under the federal Reading First program in 45 states to monitor student progress on reading fluency and other measures.
But a contentious hearing before the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee probed allegations that the widespread use of DIBELS may stem, in part, from inappropriate promotion of the tests by federal officials as part of the rollout of the $1 billion-a-year Reading First program.
A report by the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general, released in March, suggested that a federal contractor did not appropriately screen consultants, some of whom had financial ties to DIBELS, for conflicts of interest.

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