A basic lesson in statistics

OK, so there’s this article in the Sacramento Bee about Don Peralta pulling his support for the Pre-School Initiative to be on the next state-wide ballot.

I don’t want to comment on the Initiative because I don’t know anything about it so I don’t know if I’m for or against it.

What I do what to comment on the continual misuse of statistics by various proponents. At the end of the article a proposition supporter is quoted as saying:

“half of all 4th graders can’t read at grade level”

That’s like of like saying “Did you know half of all people are shorter than the other half!?!” Grade level is determined by the average performance of kids in that grade. Since no one performs (well MAYBE one person) at EXACTLY grade level, half score above, half score below. It’s just a fact of life no matter how smart or how stupid kids are nor how much pre-school they attended. 100 years from now, when kids in the 4th grade are doing Calculus because of our advances in teaching techniques, half of them will STILL be performing below grade level. Similarly, if in 100 years we’ve completely given up on pushing our children to learn and we’re teaching them how to walk in the 4th grade, half of the class, that incredible group that can not only take a few steps but walk across the whole room, will STILL be performing above grade level.

What a joke.

One Response to “A basic lesson in statistics”

  1. Ken's Brother Says:

    but what if the future is like the planet of the apes Ken, and we’ve got Ape’s and Humans in the same class room.

    Will half still be half, or some other weird percentage?