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A Dash of History and a Pinch of Math: A Brief Recipe for Understanding Inferential Statistics

by Brian L. Carpenter, PhD

Statistics requires math, but understanding statistics requires a conceptual framework, not a mathematical one. This paper provides a conceptual understanding of the principles of inferential statistics and their discovery. The paper closes by applying statistical ideas to charter schools and charter authorizers in a brief discussion of “value-added assessment”—a superior indicator of student performance that measures student growth, rather than student achievement at a fixed point in time.

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