Metro magazine school rankings 'crude'

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2012

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Auckland's Catholic schools ruled in Metro magazine's annual school league tables, 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.

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."

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.

Statistically modelling is very sophisticated task, something that even academics have struggled with, he said.

"The way they're doing it is so crude and they're wrong to do it."

Parents are more likely to gather information from friends, standing around the barbecue talking about school reputation and culture, he said.

"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."

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.

The top three schools were McAuley High School, Marcellin College and De La Salle College, based on merit and excellence awards.

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At the bottom of the rankings were James Cook High School, Tangaroa College and Wesley College.

- Auckland Now

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