ERO drops decile ratings from reports

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2012

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The decile rating of schools has been scrapped from Education Review Office reports.

ERO chief review officer Dr Graham Stoop made the surprise announcement yesterday in an effort to "correct the stereotype that a school's decile equals performance".

Schools are given a decile rating of one to 10, reflecting the proportion of students from low socio-economic communities.

About 10 per cent of schools are in decile one and have the highest proportion of pupils from low socio-economic communities.

Lower deciles are allocated higher rates of funding by the Education Ministry but deciles are no reflection on the quality of a school.

There have been suggestions that some parents have been treating deciles as a reflection of quality, with a "white flight" recorded of tens of thousands of Pakeha children away from decile one, two and three schools in the last 10 years.

Prime Minister John Key has said some parents assume the decile ranking is "a proxy for the quality of a school" which could be "very unfair".

Dr Stoop yesterday said taking the decile rating off ERO reports would "help remove this element of confusion and correct this misconception".

There had been public confusion about the purpose and meaning of decile ratings for some time, he said.

“Too often it is seen as a rating of the quality of the education which a school provides and this is simply not correct."

An Education Ministry spokeswoman said it had not been consulted about the change, but it was "quite appropriate".

"The ministry agrees that decile ratings are often misunderstood . . . A decile does not indicate the standard of education delivered at a school," the spokeswoman said.

However, deciles would still be used by the ministry for funding and would remain on its statistics website.

Teacher union the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) said clear information about the social and economic context of schools should be published in place of the decile ratings, which were "crude".

It suggested including data on student transience, the number of children with special needs or English as a second language and the number of children attending breakfast clubs.

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- The Dominion Post

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