Fairfax have assured us they didn't publish the primary schools national standards data as a "business decision" based on the likelihood of hordes of parents using Fairfax media to look up their local schools. Missing from the explanation was an explanation of why they did do it, if not for "business purposes." Draw your own conclusion.
Still, the damage has been done. Why it's a bad idea to let people who know nothing about statistics set about drawing conclusions from bad data is being well covered by the Dim Post: this one explains what the data actually shows, and this one explains a basic failure by the HoS in concluding increased class sizes improve pupil's learning.
My personal favourite was the SST's panic-mongering about the difference in reading and writing ability between boys and girls at primary school. This isn't news to anyone familiar with the field, but now we can put meaningless numbers on it based on bad data, and the "something must be done" squawking has started.
Well, maybe it is a problem, but who'd know? Boys and girls differ in their pace of development - what counts isn't whether there's a performance difference between boys and girls at primary school, it's whether there's still a gap when they leave school. There doesn't seem to be a significant gap at that point if you judge by the kids starting their first year at university - maybe there is one if you take the cohort as a whole, but I haven't seen any research on it reported in the papers. Could be this is the first of many bad-data-generated crises.
Professor Yankovic on Autotune
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