Re-post: The Busted Bell Curve

Last spring I wrote three posts in response to extensive research that proves that the bell-shaped curve of human performance is wrong. (I was reminded of it by watching Malcolm Gladwell’s talk about the distribution of performance by students at a range of universities.)  The Gaussian distribution lies at the absolute heart of school assessment, for both students and adults.  The fact that it is a myth should make every educator who has ever graded on a curve, and every administrator who reviews faculty performance, really squirm.

The first post reviews and gives links to the basic research and calls into question the issue of student performance.  If a few superstars are capable of vastly outperforming the rest, what does that say about “average”; and what does it say about where we set the bar of excellence?

The second post asks what this means for organizational innovation.  If we don’t have, don’t recognize, or don’e leverage innovation superstars in our organization, by definition the organization will underperform.

The third post asks how we can connect with superstars in our professional work; how do we supercharge our PLN?

What if we are holding back our best students and not pushing the rest to their true potential?  What if our schools will not innovate and change unless we supercharge our superstars?  What if we could dramatically enhance our own professional lives and that of those around us if we tapped into superstars more frequently? Understanding the breakdown in this mythology is the kind of foundational questioning that schools should lead, not run from.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *