Lipton Matthews Tuesday, July 28, 2015
In recent years the ranking of Jamaican high schools based on their performance in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations has become popular. Presently, two major ranking systems exist, EducateJamaica and Education2020, among them. The former assesses the percentage of students passing at least five subjects, inclusive of mathematics or English at the CSEC level. However Education 2020, the older ranking, examines the pass rates in CSEC mathematics and English for secondary schools.
Over the years, critics have argued that these methods of ranking put schools where students are eligible to sit CSEC in grade 10 at a disadvantage. Notwithstanding this criticism, both methods have proven to be quite adept at what they intend to measure. However, the cohort of students usually eligible to sit the CSEC examination is not discussed by the public.
Statistically, there is not a big difference between School A with a cohort of 230 students and School B with over 300 students. If all students of School A pass both core subjects, then it will have a higher pass rate than School B with a pass rate of over 90 per cent for both subjects.
But School B may have a higher number of actual passes. For example, according to a recent report, Campion College whose 235 students sat the 2014 CSEC English examination, has a pass rate of 100 per cent. Ardenne High School, however, was reported as having a pass rate of over 96 per cent.
Not many people know this fact, but Ardenne's cohort has consistently been over 300 students. So Campion College has a higher pass rate, but Ardenne has a higher number of students passing. The absence of the size of a school's cohort may enable onlookers to form the opinion that some schools are greatly outperforming others when this is not really the case, more