Dropping decile rankings designed to stop stereotyping


The decision to drop decile rankings from Education Review Office reports is designed to stop link between rank and performance:

A school’s decile rating will no longer be shown on its Education Review Office report, following a decision announced today.

ERO says it has taken the decision to remove the rating from its reports in an effort to correct the stereotype that a school’s decile equals performance.

Dr Graham Stoop, Chief Review Officer for the Education Review Office, says that for some time there has been public confusion about the purpose of the decile rating and what it actually means.

“The decile rating system is a mechanism used by the Ministry of Education to make funding available to schools. Too often it is seen as a rating of the quality of the education which a school provides and this is simply not correct.

“By removing the decile rating from ERO’s reports we hope to help remove this element of confusion and correct this misconception.

Dr Stoop says ERO’s reports are designed to give parents an assessment of the quality of education provided by schools for learners.

“We have decided that decile has no part to play in our reports.”

The decile ranking reflects the income of its catchment but it’s a fairly blunt instrument.

A few years ago Waitaki Boys’ and Waitaki Girls’ High schools had different rankings even though they were in the same town and had pupils from the same catchment.

One measure the decile ranking is based on is the number of people and bedrooms in a house.

That means small towns with a lot of retired people, like Oamaru or Alexandra, score highly because they have single people or couples in homes with two or more bedrooms. These houses aren’t overcrowded but that’s not a reliable indication of the inhabitants’ wealth let alone that of unrelated homes housing school children.

Country schools usually score higher decile ratings because the value of farms and size of farm houses skew the average, even if there are a lot of low income people in townships in the school catchment.

As a generalisation pupils in higher decile schools are more likely to come from homes with better educated parents and the reverse is true for those in lower decile schools. That could make it easier or more difficult for teachers but ought not to have anything to do with the quality of education a school provides.



Accountability requires good information


Education Minister Hekia Parata announced that achievement education for schools will be publicly available on a Ministry of Education website, Education Counts,.

It will allow parents to see how their child’s school is performing and will allow the Government to see how well the system is doing as a whole in order to raise achievement for all learners.

Public Achievement Information will include National Standards data, Education Review Office (ERO) reports, schools’ annual reports and NCEA data. Over time other relevant national and international reports will be added.

National Standards data, reported for the first time this year, will be published on the website in September in the format that schools’ submitted it.

“I accept that the data is variable. It is the first year, and no consistent format was required so that was to be expected. It can only get better and better both in quality and its use over time and we want to work with schools to do this,” says Ms Parata.

Using a variety of data is a good idea because it will give a much fuller picture of a school’s performance than just one source, especially if that was reports on National Standards which the Minister admits is inconsistent.

Business New Zealand has welcomed the announcement:

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says more accessible information is
essential to improve school performance.

“Accountability for performance requires good information. . . “

Unions and the left are painting this as an assault on schools and teaching. It’s not, it’s merely a tool to improve transparency and accountability.

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