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Too small to count

Your article "Poor score for grading system" (FE Focus, January 9) reported on the responses of 61 of the approximately 1,200 delegates at the Association of Colleges conference. QDP Services, the company conducting the survey, felt able to conclude that the results represented valid evidence about the strengths and weaknesses of the Framework for Excellence.

As a professional educational researcher with 20 years of experience in the FE sector, I have to disagree. Even if its 5 per cent sample had been fully representative, QDP's reported results would have had a margin for error of +- 12.2 per cent. If the sample was skewed, the margin would become so large as to render any findings meaningless.

If the QDP survey shows anything it is how much the sector needs the sort of statistically robust provider-level data that will come out of the Framework for Excellence.

Gordon Aitken, Director, RCU (research and consultancy in education).

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