Mind the percentage gap

10th November 2000 at 00:00
YOUR headline "Gap between black and white expands" (TES, October 27) makes good journalism but poor reporting.

As the article states, at the start of GCSEs in 1987, 26 per cent of white pupils gained five or more good grades while 17 per cent of black pupils did.

Ten years later the proportions were 44 and 28 per cent, so the "gap" had increased from 9 points to16.

But if you ask how much improvement did each grup make, the figures look different.

Whites went from 26 to 44 per cent, an increase of 69.2 per cent, while blacks went from 17 to 28 per cent, an increase of 64.7 per cent - hardly the dramatic difference your headline implies.

You only get answers to the questions you ask, and asking the wrong ones often leads to misleading conclusions.

John Bausor

5 Longcrofte Road



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