Celeration – Why growth rates matter

A headline read “Economy adds 103,000 jobs, but it’s not enough.” The news story indicated the United States added 103,000 jobs in September 2011 but the addition of jobs fell short of a meaningful gain. Think about that for a moment. Does 103,000 new jobs seem like a big number?

If you gave me $103,000 dollars that would make a huge difference in my life. $103,000 is a three order or magnitude change from the 1 dollar in my pocket. My purchasing power would really change.

If the platelet count in my blood dropped by 103,000 that count indicate a viral infection, sepsis, or a cancer like leukemia. I would have great concern with 103,000 less platelets traveling around the Rick Kubina blood stream.

I live in State College, if 103,00 people came to live here we would have serious problem. Out community is small and couldn’t integrate those numbers on a long term basis. Everything would change in regards to traffic patterns, food availability, health care services, safety – everything.

Why then, does the absolute amount of change, + 103,000 jobs, appear so gloomy? I have just demonstrated the importance of big number changes. It all comes down to absolute and relative change. Absolute changes only deal with how much more or less a person has. The reason absolute number change becomes a problem is looking at where the change emanated from.

If my net worth was $100 and I receive +$103,000, the change = 1,029,900% change – a huge difference! But if I had made it really big and had the 2012 net worth of Bill Gates , $61,000,000,000 (61 billion) receiving $103,000 more means my net worth changed 0.00017%, less than 10,000th of a change. It would be like if I had a $100,000 and someone gave me ¢16 (16 cents). A very, very small change.

As for platelets count, a normal or healthy range is 150,000 – 400,000 platelets per microliter or mcL. Going from 200,000 mcL to 97,000 mcL (-103,000) means I should see a doctor and have some tests run. The same holds true if I gained too many platelets. When the number of platelets is low, a person can bleed excessively. But when the number of platelets is too high, a person can develop blood clots and experience troubling health outcomes like a stroke.

Rates of change matter. Rates of change tell us if a person may have a life ending disease and whether a nation has a healthy unemployment rate. So many decisions rely on the information provided by rates of change. How fast is something changing and how much. But what about education and psychology? How often do researchers and practitioners reply on rates of changes? Open any journal and look at the graphs or experimenters and you will have your answer. Most people only care about how much something has changed, not how much and how fast.

Precision Teachers have long relied on rates of change. On the Standard Celeration Chart Precision Teaching offers a rate of change measure called celeration. Celeration has units of change over time (count/time) per time unit. Celeration visually portrays how a measured behavior changes – accelerates, decelerates, or stays the same over time. Each celeration has a value. The value states how fast and how much the measured behavior changes. Take the example below – a cross section of a daily Standard Celeration Chart.

The celeration value comes to x2.0 [7 days]. The celeration value communicates a vast array of important information. 1. The x2.0 means the measured behavior, or pinpoint, has doubled in frequency for the celeration period. In the figure above the starting of frequency of 5 doubled to 10 at the end of the celeration period. 2. The x2.0 also communicates the percentage change, a 100% change for the celeration period (a 100% gain of 5 = 10). 3. The celeration time unit, 7 days, always appears after the celeration value.  Knowing the celeration time unit allows the chart reader to evaluate the pace of change over time. A x2.0 over 7 days versus x2.0 over 77 days means the latter intervention creating a longstanding, doubling effect – exceptionally impressive! 4. The celeration line visually depicts the direction of the measured behavior and where it lies in relation to the frequency aim. By drawing or estimating a projection line (dashed line in the figure above), the chart reader can quickly evaluate if the behavior will reach the frequency aim in the time frame.

Therefore, anyone using a daily Standard Celeration Chart has a picture of change clearly visible for all to see. Additionally, all the math behind the celeration value helps the chart reader appreciate the dynamics of the behavior change. Does the celeration rise to a level the chart reader determines as significant? Does the celeration follow a trajectory that will lead to successfully meeting the frequency aim or goal? Also, and I cannot understate this, the Standard Celeration Chart is standard. In other words, every celeration value will have the same meaning for every chart reader.

Celeration, use it for all the learners!

Rick

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