School League Tables: read between the lines

Look at 71% of the published percentages for a more accurate picture of how a school is doing academically


Here’s a tip for interpreting the figures in today’s school league tables supplement with The Irish Times: Work out 71% of the published school’s college progression %, to see how many students, on average, are likely to be 2013 Leaving Cert students. This is a reasonably accurate indicator of how many students who sat the Leaving Cert in June 2013 have gone to college.

Some schools in the tables show a progression rate to third level of over 100%. This is because the figures we publish sat the Leaving Cert in a year prior to 2013, and include PLC students, first-year repeats etc (15% of college entrants) and mature students (14% of college entrants), all of whom sat the Leaving Cert prior to 2013.

Only 71% of this year’s college registrations are of students who sat the Leaving in June 2013, so this is the key figure to bear in mind when looking at the tables. On average, 71% of a given school’s progression rate is from this year’s exam students.

The third level progression percentage in the table shows the total number of 2013 college registrations from each school (including people who sat the Leaving Cert prior to 2013) as a proportion of the number of 2013 Leaving Certs at the school – and that’s why there are 100%-plus progression rates.

Numbers are not available on progression rates for LC 2013 only. This is because the colleges who direct the operations of the CAO do not allow the CAO to release that more accurate information. Neither does the Department of Education and Science disclose information on schools’ academic performance. If they chose to release this information, parents would have a more accurate picture of college progression.

Grainne Faller’s guide to Choosing a Secondary School on the education pages sets the school league tables in context, for parents looking at what is the best school for their child. And the debate about whether league tables are good or bad for education comes up in Opinion, quoting interesting research on the value of league tables, which goes against received wisdom.

The School League tables are published with The Irish Times on Tuesday November 26th, in a bumper supplement, with full analysis and progression rates to third-level for schools in the Republic to publicly funded universities and colleges.

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