Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Bleeding Obvious


Today the local media excels itself in the statement of the bleeding obvious.

Tanya Chilcott displays a blissful ignorance of human psychology in the opening statement of her vacuous piece about the tabling of information already available on the website of every Queensland school.

She points out that -

NOT one Brisbane school had all students above the national benchmark for every category in state-based numeracy and literacy tests for 2007.

The capital letters are hers.

Now when I studied child development at Kedron Park Teachers’ College in 1966, I learned about the curve of normal distribution. Unless basic human psychology has changed radically in the last fifty years, this curve still holds.

Put simply, the graph of distribution of Intelligence Quotient shows that there are very many average people, few very dull people, and few very bright people. The inverted U-shaped curve is the graphical representation of this mathematical truth. This is quite clearly reflected in the data distribution as displayed in the comparative tables in the Courier. It shows that in every Brisbane school, there are some students who fall on the left side of the continuum.

What a surprise!

This simple phenomenon of human performance is obviously lost on Tanya. I doubt that it is lost on her readers, who for years have managed to make school choices without the assistance of the Courier Mail.

Without delving too deeply into these out-of-date statistics (they’re 2007 figures), it is clear that what they do show is the strong correlation between Socio-economic status and school performance.

If the Courier devoted more column space to the pressure applied to teachers by the politically-driven testing regime (NAPLAN) distracting them away from the business of teaching and helping kids to learn, they would indeed be providing a public service.

As it is, they’re simply selling newsprint.

1 comment:

Boy on a bike said...

When I did my leaving certificate, or TAE as they called it, we were told that we were marked according to the bell curve. It was simply not possible for more than a certain number of students to get an A+ for instance, no matter how good their papers. Each marker was given a quota of grades that they could give out, and those quotas came from the bell curve. Woe betide the marker that attempted to deviate.

However, in those days, the exams had almost no multiple choice questions - it was all essays and so on.

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