Alternative to decile system?
Feeling misled by the decile system, an Auckland tech team concocted a performance-based system for rating schools.
Bill Ma and Leon Hong have created SchoolScore - which rates schools from one to 10 based on academic results - after noticing real estate agents hyped up the benefits of buying in pricey decile 10 zones.
‘‘We wanted to get parents out of the mentality that decile determines education quality and where you should live,’’ Ma says.
SchoolScore is part of Ma’s independent property valuation website RELab. He developed the project in his ‘‘spare time’’ but has since left a job with Spark to focus solely on RELab.
Ma doesn’t have children himself, but as part of Auckland’s Chinese community says he often saw ‘‘recent immigrants in particular’’ settling their kids’ education solely by decile.
SchoolScore had ranked most primary, intermediate, and high schools in Auckland using open source performance data, averaged over the past three years, in its algorithm.
Primary and intermediate schools got scored on their national standards results, while secondary schools were ranked on NCEA results, university entrance rates, and scholarships earned. But since some secondary schools used Cambridge International Exams or the International Baccalaureate instead of NCEA, Ma admits his scorings weren’t perfect.
Mt Roskill Grammar has below average literacy and just slightly above average numeracy, but a SchoolScore of seven thanks to the dozens of scholarship students in attendance each year. On the other side of the coin, Whangaparaoa College has well above average literacy and numeracy rates, but scored a measly three because only four students got scholarships in 2015.
Ma said the algorithm weighted scholarships most heavily in order to counter the lack of NCEA data in some cases - but this potentially wonky maths has the Ministry of Education skeptical.
Head of student achievement Karl Le Quesne said the scores’ underpinning methodology was not made clear enough on RELab’s website.
He urged people seeking houses in Auckland based on school zones to be sure of the validity of the information before making a decision.
Bill Ma hopes his performance-based school rating system will help parents.