How the NDP Won the 2015 Alberta Election
Posted by Sridhar Mutyala at 11:46 AM · No Comments

After 44 years of PC rule, Albertans voted in a majority NDP government in Tuesday’s election. The result surprised many even though polls were predicting an NDP landslide. Wherever you fit on the political spectrum, until it happened, it didn’t seem possible.

So how did it happen? The fall (or death) of the PC dynasty. Rachel Notley and the impression she made on Albertans. Naheed Nenshi nudging Calgary voters to be open to alternatives. Prominent businessmen hectoring Edmontonians to stick with the status quo. Alberta’s changing demographics. Or how about mirrors, downturns, hope, fear, or math?

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Measuring Performance in the NHL
Posted by Sridhar Mutyala at 09:42 PM · No Comments

(This is something I wrote back at the start of 2011 for a project we had going back then. I think Corsi has evolved beyond what I discuss here, but I still like goal value as an alternative.)

If you’re interested in the NHL and statistics (like us), you may have heard of something called the Corsi number. It’s one of many new methods to measure player performance being tracked by bloggers (like Behind the Net). Perhaps because it’s new, it’s not popular with traditionalists; witness Don Cherry’s rant against Corsi on Coach’s Corner last season. Despite misgivings over siding with guys who go with their gut, I agree with Cherry. The Corsi number is flawed. But it takes a better effort than Cherry’s to appreciate just why.

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Students at Calgary Board of Education (CBE) high schools outperformed their Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) counterparts on the 2014 Alberta diploma exams. This isn’t news. CBE high school students have maintained a significant and consistent edge across the core academic diploma exam subjects for a number of years. What’s interesting is that while CBE high school students are coming out ahead, CBE grade 9 students are consistently trailing EPSB students in Provincial Achievement Test (PAT) results. So we have a situation where students enter EPSB high schools with an academic edge over their CBE peers, but by the time they finish high school three (or more) years later, they’ve fallen behind. Why?

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Simple Arithmetic in Alberta Classrooms
Posted by Sridhar Mutyala at 06:40 PM · 2 Comments

Number sense is an important outcome of the Alberta math curriculum. Yet many of our students find arithmetic so vexing and unnatural that they need calculators to perform even the simplest operations. This lack of arithmetic fluency puts students at a big disadvantage when they move on to tackle algebra and other abstract math concepts in higher grades.

Why, with so much focus on developing number sense in elementary age students, are we seeing such mixed results with students graduating from our school system?

It may come down to how arithmetic is taught in today’s classrooms.

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In Part 1 of this post, I looked at a few criticisms of the methodology used in the Fraser Institute’s high school rankings. Here, I’m going to explain what I think is the real problem with the rankings: they’re not necessary.

The Fraser rankings, released annually and regularly reported by the media, have largely shaped public perception of school performance. The authors have stated they want to make it possible for parents and educators to easily compare and monitor the academic performance of Alberta high schools. They could have done this by creating a better interface for Alberta diploma exam data. Comparisons made with that data would be easy to understand and evaluate. Instead, they came up with a complicated (and arbitrary) scoring formula to rate and rank schools that essentially shifted the conversation from how schools are doing academically to how schools are doing in the Fraser rankings.

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In Part 1, I’ll take a closer look at a few criticisms of the Fraser Institute’s Alberta high school rankings, an annual attempt to compare the academic performance of secondary schools across the province. I’ll then explain in Part 2 what I think is the real problem with the rankings: they’re not necessary. Alberta Education achievement data can already be used to monitor academic performance at individual schools. Direct comparisons made with that data would be easy to understand and evaluate. The Fraser ratings, which combine diploma test results and other variables into a single score using an ad hoc formula, are needlessly complicated and misleading, both for parents and for administrators.

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When To Ask Single Ticket Buyers To Become Subscribers
Posted by Sridhar Mutyala at 12:05 AM · 1 Comment

It’s a frustrating cycle. Each season, a parade of new single ticket buyers march through the doors of theatres and concert halls across the country. Once the show ends, they applaud, gather their things, march out the door, and never come back. With fewer repeat buyers, marketers are forced to attract (and lose) new audiences all over again in the next season.

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Eight Leaves is a Data Agency
Posted by Sridhar Mutyala at 01:28 AM · No Comments

Businesses have been using computers to collect and analyze data for decades. What’s changed? First, the scale: there’s more data, more sources of data, more features in the data, and more connections between data sets. Second, the speed: data moves faster and can be processed faster — decision-making must keep pace. Third, the stakes: business leaders must get increasingly complex, high-stakes decisions right; they need to correctly frame problems and evaluate alternatives; to do so, they need better information and better analysis, not more data.

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