Average in Maths Can Be Goodo

Well, well, well.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

This Letter to the Editor in Melbourne’s Age Newspaper (6/1/15) shows how statistics — even as they relate to the heady world of schools and educators and education — can be misused — even abused!

And if our students aren’t being taught how to use maths correctly by our “educational leaders”, politicians, Principals, etc., and how to interpret data in a sensible, thoughtful, wise way, (being always aware, of course, of the many ways available to ‘skew the data’), then heaven help our generations of tomorrow, mathematically speaking!

My thanks go to Mary O’Callaghan, of Ashburton, for this thoughtful and perceptive view of the way in which stats are being abused by many in our school communities.

What a tragedy!

Here’s the letter:

“Don’t be sucked in

The billboards appeared at most elite  schools the day after the VCE (Year 12) results came out. Writ large are percentages of ATAR scores and individual subject scores. The statistics are a marketing tool that would shame any respectable maths department.

We aren’t told how many were streamed out or shipped in with scholarships. Was extra support given to the high performers?  And what is the  message the billboards are giving? Are schools claiming full credit for the results? Enticing gullible parents  with “we can do this for your child. Just pay us a small fortune”?  Do the parents believe it?

Average is good.  After all, it is what most of us are.  Let us celebrate excellence in effort, not just results.  Parents, ask your school to show how it can benefit your child, your average performer.  Ask it to demonstrate how it values excellent effort and citizenship.  Maximise your hard-earned dollars for your child’s benefit, not the school’s academic profile.

In their marketing war, schools appear to be marginalising the students and parents who are responsible for their very existence, the majority.  If this is not the case then let us hear it loud and clear.  Let the billboards proclaim the school’s value-base in educating our precious children.

Mary O’Callaghan, Ashburton”

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