Regression to the Mean

A Novel of Evaluation Politics

Ernest R. House, University of Colorado

Published 2007

Evaluation politics is one of the most critical, yet least understood aspects of evaluation. To succeed, evaluators must grasp the politics of their situation, lest their work be derailed. This engrossing novel illuminates the politics and ethics of evaluation, even as it entertains. Paul Reeder, an experienced (and all too human) evaluator, must unravel political, ethical, and technical puzzles in a mysterious world he does not fully comprehend. The book captures the complexities of evaluation politics in ways other works do not. Written expressly for learning and teaching, the evaluation novel is an unconventional foray into vital topics rarely explored.

"I’m hooked." Michael Patton

"Fascinating, completely absorbing, very smart, very shrewd, …full of insights. It lays out in mystery novel fashion the complex web of interactions, betrayals, ugly politics, sex, hidden agendas, power plays, snares, set-ups, maneuvering, that so often characterize high-stakes evaluation efforts….Quite simply a brilliant work." Yvonna Lincoln

"This delightful glimpse into an evaluator's life does more than give a good picture of the dilemmas and conflicts that bedevil a working evaluator. It also gives a picture of the private life and loves of an engaging and very human man." Carol Weiss

"Well written and gripping!" Michael Scriven

"We might speculate that Ernest House—long a major contributor to evaluation theory—grew tired of piecemeal and disjointed contributions that havecharacterized scholarship in the field for decades and accepted the challenge of producing a narrative, where verisimilitude, coherence, and plausibility will test his understanding of how evaluation plays out in reality. More than a case study, the result is a darned good story." Gene Glass

"I heartily recommend that anyone who is considering life as an evaluator consider reading this book." William L. Brown in Education Review (Read full review)

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