Nanny Knows Best

Nanny Knows Best
Dedicated to exposing, and resisting, the all pervasive nanny state that is corroding the way of life and the freedom of the people of Britain.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How To Lie With Statistics

How To Lie With StatisticsNow we all know that Nanny would never lie to us, don't we children?

After all, she is the paragon of virtue and respectability.

Sometimes though she does allow things to be, how shall I put this?, "misinterpreted".

That at least could be the explanation for the apparent lie that Nanny's chum Bill Rammell, Minister for Higher Education, told last week.

He was happily extolling his view the world that students from state schools were disadvantaged, when it comes to being accepted by universities.

His rationale?

The grade predictions for pupils from state schools are habitually underpredicted by their teachers. This means, according to Rammell, that they are offered less university places than those who come from private education.

Now Rammell was happily using these "facts" to promote Nanny's latest idea of "social engineering"; namely that universities should hold back a proportion of their places, until after the publication of A- level results.

Why do governments think that social engineering is a good thing?

It always fails dismally.

However, there is one fly in Rammell's ointment.

Can you guess what that is?

Yes, that's right, he was lying...ooh sorry, "accidentally allowing people to misrepresent the research".

It seems that the A level predictions for pupils from state schools are indeed adjusted by their teachers.

Not downwards though.


Yes, much to Nanny's discomfort, it seems that Rammell forgot to mention in his "social engineering" rant last week that teachers from state schools overestimate the grades of their pupils.

The actual results from state schools are in fact worse than predicted.

A DfES-commissioned study shows that poorer teenagers were the most likely to have their predicted results exaggerated by their teachers. Grade predictions on university application forms were most accurate for students from wealthier backgrounds. Teachers at state schools overestimated the true performance of their students far more than those in the independent sector.

The study, carried out by academics at Oxford University, also noted:

"There is no evidence to support the view that those with overpredicted grades received more offers than those who have their performance underpredicted."

Geoff Hayward, who produced the report for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), said that he was mystified and annoyed at the way the DfES had presented the research. He said:

"The evidence we produced does not support the strong contention that those from less well-off backgrounds are being disadvantaged by the current system.

It's just not true. They are trying to portray a particular image that poorer students are being disadvantaged by the system, but the report I wrote finds very, very weak, if any, support for that conclusion

Rammell is now squirming, like a worm on a hook, as he tries to make out that he didn't deliberately lie.

He should have remembered that there is a Civil Service Code that states that civil servants have "the duty to give Parliament or the Assembly and the public as full information as possible about their policies, decisions and actions, and not to deceive or knowingly mislead them".

Still that's never stopped Nanny in the past from lying to us, I doubt that she will change her ways now.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:19 PM

    So the plan becomes clear..... give everyone top grades for not knowing any maths. Then everyone drops maths when it starts to get slightly hard. Then no one will understand statistics and no one know when the government is lying