Letters to the Editor

Lying statistics

Really, editor John Harding? Does ‘Privates dominate’ deserve the front page (The NEWS, March 11)?

It was the same last year and will be the same next year. As long as private schools, through their admission policies, can select only top academic students, they will always lead the rankings.

“District 69 schools way down think tank’s list” (the sub-head to that story) is mostly smoke and mirrors. The Fraser Institute calculates only 100 possible results with each school rated out of 10, to the nearest decimal place. Nanoose and Winchelsea have a rating of 5.5, the 46th score, yet are placed at 586th in the Fraser Institute standings. Parksville Elementary, ranked 410th is actually tied at the 38th highest place with the rating of 6.3. Had Parksville scored 6.4, up one tenth, they would be in 37th place. Yet, by the institute’s standings they would have moved 22 places to 388th. An absurd use of numbers.

The institute chooses to place all schools in one category for their rankings, regardless of size or composition. District 69 elementary schools are K-5, where most of the province’s schools are K-7. To make schools fit in a neat package for comparison, Grade 7 middle school scores are combined with neighbouring elementary schools. The result: scores from students who haven’t even attended those schools are used and scores are used more than once. Not my idea of good mathematics. The phrase: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics” seems appropriate.

Dennis Giesbrecht

Qualicum Beach

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