Education Matters

Why the published school comparison tables are incomplete and unreliable

Posted by Trinity Grammar School on Jan 19, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Why the published school comparison tables are incomplete and unreliableEvery December the media publishes comparison tables of secondary schools in the state. However, the published school comparison tables are incomplete and provide an unfair evaluation of schools in NSW as they omit critical information and do not take context into consideration.

The reason for this is that the league tables are formulated only by the percentage of Higher School Certificate (HSC) Band 6 results. They don’t take into consideration the 2,728 students nationwide who chose to complete the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma instead of the state-based credential. Both credentials are used by UAC to determine ATARs.  While the numbers can appear insignificant, they can have a substantial impact on some schools’ rankings.

Trinity Grammar School is considered to be one of the very best schools in the nation and the world. However, due to the limitations of the comparison tables, Trinity’s high performance may not always be reflected accurately.

The reason for this is that almost 50 percent of our Year 12 students completed the IB Diploma instead of the HSC. Of these students, nine achieved a perfect score of 45, equating to an ATAR of 99.95 and equal to first in the world, while a further four attained near-perfect scores of 44. Trinity’s overall IB results were among the best in the State’s history, but these are not factored into the published comparison tables.

Trinity Grammar School received excellent overall results in 2018. Here are just a few highlights:

  • 24 students received an ATAR equivalent of over 99, equal to approximately the top one percent of the state, however, only two of these students completed the HSC.
  • 49 percent achieved an ATAR equivalent to or above 90
  • 35 HSC All Round Achievers or IB Distinctions

The other problem with the comparison tables is that they do not take context into consideration, ignoring factors such as whether a school is selective or non-selective, rural or urban and disadvantaged or privileged.

A selective school only enrols high performing students, so it should expect to get higher performing graduates. However, this has nothing to do with the quality of the school, and in the comparison tables, selective schools will always do better than comprehensive schools. The best way to lift results is to enrol only high performing students as is the case with selective schools, but as a comprehensive school, Trinity does not do this. Similarly, urban schools generally do better than rural schools and privileged schools do better than disadvantaged schools. To hear more about this watch this video from Trinity Grammar School Head Master, Tim Bowden.

This is why the published school comparison tables are incomplete and unreliable measurements of a school’s quality. Aside from academic results, parents would be wise to also consider pastoral care, the extent of co-curricular opportunities offered, the nature of the school’s culture and the way the school shapes the character of its students.

Trinity Grammar School is proud to be an open-entry, non-selective school for boys, providing a variety of education pathways to suit the differing needs of our boys. Our programmes are challenging and varied, whether boys participate in the HSC, IB or even vocational pathways.

Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture each student to help him realise his potential, passion and purpose in life, ensuring that every Trinity boy is challenged, inspired and guided to become a successful, compassionate, internationally-minded man.

To learn more about the Trinity difference and to discover why we’re one of Sydney’s leading schools for boys, download our prospectus.

Trinity prospectus download

Topics: Academic excellence, International Baccalaureate