Clegg's Social Mobility Report'statistically Flawed'

The Birmingham Post (England), April 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

Clegg's Social Mobility Report'statistically Flawed'


Researchers at a Midland university have warned a new Government policy on social mobility could be based on a well known statistical flaw.

Unveiled last week by Nick Clegg, the Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers; A Strategy For Social Mobility document uses figures showing the wealthy over-achieve compared to those from poorer background.

However Professor Daniel Read, of Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick, said the graphs used in the document were produced using statistics from extremes of performance.

And he said a statistical trap known as "regressing to the mean" (RTTM) could bias the analysis of the figures.

Prof Read said: "While the proposals in the strategy may be good ones I am very worried this graph is being used to shape policy.

"The apparently shocking pattern of results in the graph is simply what statisticians would expect when you measure extremes of performance in two populations of differing ability."

Prof Read said RTTM occurs when a set of measurement selected for their extreme nature, such as high achievement, are then compared to other measurements of the same quantity. …

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