People who jump on the latest proofs about early education’s utility or uselessness would do well to remember that educational research is hard to do. The gold standard of scientific proof is a randomized, controlled trial in which study participants are randomly assigned either to a control group or to one or more intervention groups (and in which the study is double-blind, so that the subject and the person doing the measurement ideally don’t know who gets the intervention, in order to prevent bias). These sorts of experiments are rare in education (and other fields) because they are expensive and raise ethical concerns if children are being intentionally denied an ostensibly desirable form of treatment. It’s also hard to find a big enough sample size to give a study sufficient statistical power to detect the impact of the intervention. And so we frequently rely on observational studies (in which the researcher doesn’t actually create new study conditions) and on inferences based on statistical adjustments (of varying quality) that attempt to compensate for the lack of a true experimental research design.
Quote ID: 01914
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