Friday, October 24, 2014

The Mile

Oren Depp 
Staff Writer 

In New Hope Solebury High School, there has been a long standing dissatisfaction with the mile time requirements for boys and girls. While boys must run a mile in 6 minutes and 30 seconds, girls only need to run a mile in 8 minutes 30 seconds. This two minute difference has been the subject of much controversy. Obviously there are differences in the physical capabilities between boys and girls, and those differences must be accounted for, but the current difference between requirements for the two genders is radically disproportionate.

 In order to prove this theory, I gave out a survey last year for my statistics project to find out what the average mile times are for boys and girls. When I got the times for both boys and girls, I subtracted the given mile time from the required mile time depending upon the gender. This allowed me to measure how close a person was to getting a 100%, or by how much they beat the required mile time.

 The findings were astonishing; the girl’s average time was -53.47, or 53.47 seconds below the required time, while the boy’s average time was 11.7, or 11.7 seconds above the required time. That’s a whole minute in difference.

 Using these averages, I was then able to calculate what percentage of girls got a 100% and what percentage of boys got a 100%. When the crunching was done, I found that 90% of girls obtained a 100% for the mile; in comparison, a measly 39% of boys received a 100% for the mile.

 Now these results might seem extreme, almost to the point where one might think that something was wrong with the sample. But when one finds the p-value of the data, or the chance that the differences found between boys and girls were merely the product of a sample that was not representative of the school, it becomes clear the data is exceedingly relevant. Normally statisticians will accept a p-value below .05 for an experiment; this experiment had a p-value of .0000000798.

 Obviously the above data means that the mile time requirements need to be revised. It becomes a question of what the purpose is for the test. Should a majority of the people taking the mile be getting a 100%, or should the mile be a challenge that only those exceptionally fit and healthy should be able to conquer?

 In my opinion, this survey should be taken to a larger scale, where a random sample of 300 boys and 300 girls in the district are asked what their most recent mile time was before any definitive action is taken. This would create a stronger basis for change when those in charge of schools in the district asked for more concrete evidence.

 In the end, the data only presents the problem as reality. In order for any change to be made, action must be taken and effort put in. Gym class grades affect a person’s transcript as much as any class, and leaving boys at such a distinct disadvantage means they have to fight an uphill battle. G.P.A. is still affected, and even though many colleges subtract classes like Gym from a person’s GPA in college admissions, it still affects admissions into clubs like National Honor Society. Making sure the way the school evaluates its students is equal must be a priority of both the school and its students.

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