I can’t quite decide whether this is a Truly Unfortunate Representation of Data. Help me out here.

The following is from an *Educational Researcher *article on the alignment between the math and English/language arts standards of various states and those of the Common Core State Standards (about which, more here).

The graphic (and several others like it) comes with the following disclaimer:

When reading these graphs, the representation of content emphasis is accurate at each column- by-row intersection, but the smoothing between rows and between columns is not meaningful because the data are nominal. (p. 107)

What this means is this, *Because the data is categorical, we could really have put them in any order we like*. As a consequence, any patterns (* any patterns!*) we see within each graph are simply artifacts of the order we chose. This smacks of TURD to me. But I stand ready to be convinced. Any takers?

**Reference**

Porter, A., McMaken, J., Hwang, J. & Yang, R. (2011). Common Core standards: The new U.S. intended curriculum. *Educational researcher, 40, *103—116.