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# For years, the debate over public education reform has

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For years, the debate over public education reform has [#permalink]

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06 May 2006, 22:29
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For years, the debate over public education reform has centered on financing. Many claim that pouring more money into the public schools will improve student performance. However, the only way to fix our school systems is to inject new ideas and new approaches. Today the schools are organized to benefit their adult employees rather than the students.

Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument?

(A) Schools that have instituted “new approaches” attract the best performing students.
(B) Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.
(C) Studies show that student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the students’ families.
(D) School employees, by an overwhelming margin, said that the system performed well.
(E) Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
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17 Oct 2010, 18:41
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arundas,

I absolutely understand where you're coming from, but let's break this down:

The conclusion here is that new ideas are the ONLY way to fix the school system. The best way to weaken a conclusion that has the word "ONLY" in it is to identify any other way of fixing the school system. So we're looking for an alternative way to fix the system:

A: This strengthens the idea that new ideas attract better students and thus would in theory improve overall. So this is actually the opposite of what we're looking for.
B: This says outdoor playgrounds hurt performance. This doesn't say anything about how to fix schools; it only says installing playgrounds has the opposite effect.
C: This weakens the conclusion because it provides an alternate explanation for why some school districts do better than others. The reason it doesn't really provide an alternative explanation to the "new ideas" theory is that you can't really fix the school system by having more educated parents.
D: This is totally irrelevant.
E: This is sort of similar to C. I would argue that "districts with high per-capita spending" means the districts themselves spend a lot of money on the students, not that the people who live in that district spend a lot of money. So we can actually say that if this is true, then school districts can choose to spend more money and thus achieve better results.

Does this help?
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19 Oct 2010, 16:02
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arundas wrote:
For years, the debate over public education reform has centered on financing. Many claim that pouring more money into the public schools will improve student performance. However, the only way to fix our school systems is to inject new ideas and new approaches. Today the schools are organized to benefit their adult employees rather than the students.

Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument?

> Schools that have instituted “new approaches” attract the best performing students.
> Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.
> Studies show that student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the students’ families.
> School employees, by an overwhelming margin, said that the system performed well.
> Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests.

I have a couple of issues with this question. It asks us what 'most weakens the argument'. Well, there is no 'argument'. There is just a claim: "the only way to fix our school systems is to inject new ideas". That's not an argument, in the sense that word is used in logic (it's not a logical deduction from a set of premises); it's just an unsubstantiated opinion. It's hard to know how to weaken an 'argument' that isn't an argument in the first place.

I also dislike answer E here, though I prefer it to the other answer choices. First it's unclear just what is meant by 'per capita spending'; does this mean dollars spent per student, or tax dollars spent on education per person in the district? In any case, E contains a kind of overly simplistic logic that real GMAT CR questions normally ask you to attack. That higher spending districts get better test scores is not, in and of itself, reason to think that spending improves test scores. That's a correlation/causation fallacy. There may easily be, for example, sample bias at work here. Those districts which can afford to spend the most are very possibly the wealthiest districts, and that may be the reason for higher test scores; perhaps students in poorer districts need to work part-time jobs and can't focus on their studies, or perhaps those in poorer districts aren't properly nourished and that affects their academic performance, just to list two of a myriad of possibilities here. It may not be the educational spending itself that is producing the better results.

Those problems with the question aside, I don't see how any of the answers A-D could be good here, so E it is, but I don't care for the question at all.
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07 May 2006, 06:00
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Professor wrote:
i go with C.

if student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the studentsâ€™ families, then spending more money, new ideas and new approaches do not increase the performance of the students.

Prof.

The social status of a particular person corresponds most directly with
the social status of his family. Would you conclude from this assertion that nothing can be done to improve one's social status if he was born in poor family?
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Re: For years, the debate over public education reform has [#permalink]

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07 Nov 2012, 08:12
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arundas wrote:
For years, the debate over public education reform has centered on financing. Many claim that pouring more money into the public schools will improve student performance. However, the only way to fix our school systems is to inject new ideas and new approaches. Today the schools are organized to benefit their adult employees rather than the students.

Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument?

> Schools that have instituted “new approaches” attract the best performing students.
> Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.
> Studies show that student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the students’ families.
> School employees, by an overwhelming margin, said that the system performed well.
> Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
If students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests, then the assumption that higher spending does not improve school systems may be wrong.

Very interesting discussion going on here. Let me add my two cents to it. Let's first dissect the passage, line by line:
For years, the debate over public education reform has centered on financing - It's a background statement for the passage. It gives a background that a debate has centered on financing. Then, the passage given two counter-views of the debate.

Many claim that pouring more money into the public schools will improve student performance. - This is view of one side of the debate.

However, the only way to fix our school systems is to inject new ideas and new approaches. - This is view of other side of the debate. The author is on this side of the debate. The use of word "only" makes this view completely counter to the other view. Presence of "only" means that this view of the debate means two things: new ideas and new approaches are needed to fix the system and pouring of money "cannot" fix the school systems.

Today the schools are organized to benefit their adult employees rather than the students. - This opinion is used to mean that the current school systems are not doing what they are supposed to be doing and thus, they need a fix. In addition, "... benefit their adult employees rather..." could also mean that the way (financial) resources are used currently is benefiting employees rather than the students. Thus, this opinion would also support the viewpoint that putting more resources will not help; new ideas and approaches are required.

The question asks us to find an option which most weakens the argument. But what is the argument here?
From our above understanding, the argument is like:
Conclusion (Claim): new ideas and new approaches are needed to fix the system and pouring of money "cannot" fix the school systems.
Premise (supporting opinion): the way (financial) resources are used currently is benefiting employees rather than the students

Now, let's look at each of the options:
A. Schools that have instituted “new approaches” attract the best performing students. - Supports the conclusion rather than weakening it.
B. Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do. - It means that students with outside playgrounds have higher level of student performance than schools that do not. So, if the absence of outside playgrounds in schools is due to lack of funds, then putting more financial resources will help them to build playgrounds and thus, achieve higher level of performance. So, by making an assumption (that the absence of outside playgrounds in schools is due to lack of funds), this statement works as a weakener.
C. Studies show that student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the students’ families. - Generally saying, education of students's families is not being talked in the passage. Even if this statement is considered correct, it could mean two things in different scenarios:
1. Scenario One: If education of families can't be changed - In this case, we can't really do anything to improve student performance, which makes the whole debate irrelevant.
2. Scenario Two: If education of families can be changed - In this case, we can work on educating the families while simultaneously working with students. Doing such a thing could be characterized as a "new idea", which would support the given argument.
Thus, this statement doesn't weaken the argument.

D. School employees, by an overwhelming margin, said that the system performed well. - This is irrelevant. Opinion of school employees on the argument is irrelevant.
E. Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests. - If higher capita spending means higher spending per student and if higher scores on standardized tests means higher performance, then this statement weakens our conclusion that pouring of money cannot fix the system. So, by making these assumptions, this statement can act as a weakener.

From the analysis above, we see that both options B and E can be weakeners, if we make the required assumptions. However, we need to select the options which weakens the argument the most. Therefore, we need to find the stronger weakener of these two.

A strong weakener is one which weakens the argument without making any assumptions. In this case, both the statement make assumptions. The stronger of the two would be the one whose assumptions are easy to justify within the context of the argument.

In this case, I think assumptions for option E are easier to justify:
- Assumption 1: Since we are primarily talking about public finance, per capita spending should refer to spending per student by the public machinery, rather than spending per individual
- Assumption 2: Generally whenever performances are measured and compared, they are through standardized tests. Thus, higher scores on standardized tests should mean higher performance, in this context.

In case of option B, absence of outside playgrounds could be due to reasons other than financial ones. It's actually not easy to justify that the only reason for absence of playgrounds would be lack of financial resources.

Thus, the correct option should be E.

Cheers,
CJ
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07 May 2006, 03:13
What if the same schools in (B) decided to allocate their expenses for different facilities, like swimming pools or computer labs?

I think the answer should be (E), unless there is a trick relating to "districts." For example, some schools in the same district may be well funded private while others are underfunded public.
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07 May 2006, 03:31
GMATT73 wrote:
What if the same schools in (B) decided to allocate their expenses for different facilities, like swimming pools or computer labs?

I think the answer should be (E), unless there is a trick relating to "districts." For example, some schools in the same district may be well funded private while others are underfunded public.

Nope

The issue here is not whether additional funding can improve students' scores( performance is not necessarily equal to scores, btw), but whether old plain ideas can still be used to improve their performance. B shows this clearly , while E is way out of scope.
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07 May 2006, 05:30
i go with C.

if student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the studentsâ€™ families, then spending more money, new ideas and new approaches do not increase the performance of the students.

Quote:
The issue here is not whether additional funding can improve students' scores( performance is not necessarily equal to scores, btw), but whether old plain ideas can still be used to improve their
performance. B shows this clearly, while E is way out of scope.

deowl,
i agree with you that the issue here is not whether additional funding can improve students' scores but how do you say "play ground" as old plain ideas?

Last edited by Professor on 07 May 2006, 05:53, edited 2 times in total.
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07 May 2006, 05:34
I will go with E.

Point 1: Studentâ€™s performance in standardized tests can be taken as measure for schoolâ€™s performance.
Point 2: Even though if more financing is done and the school is in â€œlower per-capitaâ€
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07 May 2006, 05:55
if spending increases the performance of the student, it doesnot weakens the argument... so E doesnot work as well.
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07 May 2006, 06:13
Professor wrote:
deowl,
i agree with you that the issue here is not whether additional funding can improve students' scores but how do you say "play ground" as old plain ideas?

Since there are schools that have a playground, this idea cannot be considered a new one.
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07 May 2006, 06:16
I don't think choice E implies â€œspending increases the performance of the studentâ€
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07 May 2006, 07:18
OA is E, Though I selected B and I was not debating between B and E,

I considered E weaker because if you analyze

"Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests."

It does not say School has higher spending, higher per-capita income may mean nothing in cases such as school district has lower % of family income devoted to school. So basically we have to assume tha higher per-capita goes after school budget!

But if you look at B

Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.

I can weakly infer, that there is one to one relationship between having plyaground and financial capabilities of school...

Though I believe this is bad question, because its tough to pick between B and E and I hope that in real exam we will have solid question compare to this one!
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For years, the debate over public education reform has [#permalink]

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15 May 2007, 20:20
For years, the debate over public education reform has centered on financing. Many claim that pouring more money into the public schools will improve student performance. However, the only way to fix our school systems is to inject new ideas and new approaches. Today the schools are organized to benefit their adult employees rather than the students.

Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument?

A. Schools that have instituted “new approaches” attract the best performing students.
B. Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.
C. Studies show that student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the students’ families.
D. School employees, by an overwhelming margin, said that the system performed well.
E. Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests.
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16 May 2007, 01:26
Juaz wrote:
OA is E.
Don't know why I got confused.

Outside Claim: Pouring more money into the public schools will improve student performance.

Author Claim: Schools are organized to benefit adult employees rather than the students.

Conclusion: the only way to fix our school systems is (1) inject new ideas (2) new approaches.

WEAKEN?

A. Schools that have instituted “new approaches” attract the best performing students.
strengthens outside claim
B. Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.
second best answer? wrong because playgrounds don't benefit schools employees?
C. Studies show that student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the students’ families.
out of scope!
D. School employees, by an overwhelming margin, said that the system performed well.
out of scope
E. Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests.
yes, weakens the claim that into pouring money has no use for performance!

I prefer (E) as well because it is the most obvious, but why exactly is (B) wrong? cheers
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For years, the debate over public education reform has [#permalink]

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16 Oct 2010, 19:15
For years, the debate over public education reform has centered on financing. Many claim that pouring more money into the public schools will improve student performance. However, the only way to fix our school systems is to inject new ideas and new approaches. Today the schools are organized to benefit their adult employees rather than the students.

Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument?

> Schools that have instituted “new approaches” attract the best performing students.
> Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.
> Studies show that student performance corresponded most directly with the education of the students’ families.
> School employees, by an overwhelming margin, said that the system performed well.
> Researchers in education have shown that students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
If students from school districts with high per-capita spending tend to receive higher scores on standardized tests, then the assumption that higher spending does not improve school systems may be wrong.

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16 Oct 2010, 19:17
My issue with the OA is that how can one assume that school districts with high per-capita spending spend more money on schools. I think high per-capita spending would refer to people in that district spending money and not the school authorities of that district.

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17 Oct 2010, 05:41
I went for A,
I thought if application of new approaches lead into attracting better students, it should not be called a reform, 'cause I feel reform is improving existing students!
Am I off topic ? :D
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17 Oct 2010, 18:59
BKimball wrote:
arundas,

I absolutely understand where you're coming from, but let's break this down:

The conclusion here is that new ideas are the ONLY way to fix the school system. The best way to weaken a conclusion that has the word "ONLY" in it is to identify any other way of fixing the school system. So we're looking for an alternative way to fix the system:

A: This strengthens the idea that new ideas attract better students and thus would in theory improve overall. So this is actually the opposite of what we're looking for.
B: This says outdoor playgrounds hurt performance. This doesn't say anything about how to fix schools; it only says installing playgrounds has the opposite effect.
C: This weakens the conclusion because it provides an alternate explanation for why some school districts do better than others. The reason it doesn't really provide an alternative explanation to the "new ideas" theory is that you can't really fix the school system by having more educated parents.
D: This is totally irrelevant.
E: This is sort of similar to C. I would argue that "districts with high per-capita spending" means the districts themselves spend a lot of money on the students, not that the people who live in that district spend a lot of money. So we can actually say that if this is true, then school districts can choose to spend more money and thus achieve better results.

Does this help?

Thanks for responding. I have a question below on your explanation.

Your explanation for not picking B is "This says outdoor playgrounds hurt performance.". But the option in the question stem is Schools without outside playgrounds have lower levels of student performance than schools that do.

My interpretation of option B was that an outside playground leads to improved student performance and hence schools which don't have it need to have one. And acquiring a playground means having more finance. As this has nothing to do with new ideas or approaches I picked this as an answer.

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17 Oct 2010, 19:32
Arundas, I think you took the route of thinking that playgrounds necessarily are expensive thing and hence need money and therefore will improve student performance. While it is very logical to think that way it relies on your knowledge of how expensive a playground is. this is a classic test mistake called the "conjecture" choice. It relies on your info to answer questions. We should never pick such things and pick only choices that have the information as given in the question. Nothing outside.

Hope it helps.
Re: public education reform   [#permalink] 17 Oct 2010, 19:32

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