Auckland school

Marika Hill at Stuff reports:

Auckland’s Catholic schools ruled in magazine’s annual school , but an education expert has warned parents the rankings are too “crude” to take seriously.

Each year Metro rates the best and worst schools in Auckland based on academic results, adjusted according to a school’s decile rating.

McAuley High School, a Catholic school for girls in the lower socio-economic area of Otahuhu, topped the rankings based on the past three years’ NCEA results.

So league tables do not necessairly discriminate against schools in lower socio-economic areas.

Catholic schools took eight of the top 10 positions in a table comparing year 11 NCEA results earlier this month.

Metro editor Simon Wilson suggested Catholic school principals should be giving a hand-up to principals of low-decile schools.

“If this country is really going to get serious about eliminating the long tail of failure in our schools, it’s possible the single most valuable thing we could do is shoulder-tap the key Catholic educators and gives them a free hand in low-decile schools that are not doing well.”

Not a bad idea. Or allow them to set up more schools.

Waikato University education professor Martin Thrupp said it was misleading to assume Catholic schools are better.

State-integrated religious schools have more flexible enrolment schemes compared to state schools.

While state schools must give priority to local students, a state-integrated school can give preference to Catholic students from a wider catchment area.

Thrupp said this effectively means Catholic school principals can be more selective when accepting students.

That’s a fair point, but it would be useful to know to what extent principals do accept from outside their area. I’m doubtful it would be enough to invalidate the fact Catholic schools took up eight out of the top 10 spots.

“Just because the school is top of the pops in the league tables doesn’t necessarily mean it will be right for your child. They might not fit the culture of the school,” he said.

“I wouldn’t pay it too much attention myself, there’s other more rounded forms of information like ERO reports.”

Absolutely one should not decide on a school just because it is top of a league table. And yes one should read ERO reports, talk to current students, former students, staff etc at a school. But comparative data on academic achievements can be a useful part of the mix.

Metro magazine looked at the last three years’ worth of NCEA results to create the tables.

The writers attempted to create a level-playing field by taking into account decile rating, which denote the socio-economic area the school is situated in.

Schools are compared against other schools in their deciles, and they determine what schools added the most value to the student intake.

It would be interesting to know their exact formula.

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