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The Use and Abuse of Statistics
The Use and Abuse of Statistics
2.1 Introduction

In a House of Commons committee meeting in 2012, the (then) British Education Minister, Michael Gove MP, was asked about his aspiration for all schools to be graded good or better on inspection. How is this possible, he was questioned, if the definition of a good school is one at which pupil performance exceeds the national average. ‘By getting better all the time,’ he answered.

Few would disagree that raising educational standards is a laudable aim. However, impossible targets are impossible to meet. By definition, not all schools can be above the average. Even if every one gets better, the average rises with them. It was an innocent mistake but one that caused ...

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