How are university rankings created?

Expected rate

For almost 30 years, these paintings have been open to the public in the spring. The criteria have been refined. The high school graduation success rate alone is not enough to give a picture of a high school’s dynamics: it depends heavily on the sociology of the neighborhood and does not reflect the work done to support the most vulnerable students. A grammar school that only accepts good students inevitably has better chances of “shining” in the Abitur.

“What would a very good final exam pass rate mean in a facility where only one in two senior year runners-up attend? », underlines on the website of the ministry Fabienne Rosenwald, head of evaluation, prospects and performance. “Beyond the success rate, we have to consider what happened to all the students accepted by the school. That is, to measure the school’s ability to lead all of its students to the Abitur. »

We consider the difference between the pass rate and the expected pass rate, estimated taking into account the social profile of the students.

It is therefore a question of calculating the “added value of high schools” based on half a dozen parameters, such as the proportion of students who stayed until the Abitur, the number of entries and, above all, the difference in the success rate and the expected success rate , which is estimated taking into account the social profile of the students.

“Efficient”, “selective”…

Once these data are established (1), the Ministry does not “classify”. On the other hand, it relativizes this added value. The mention “efficient” is most rewarding. This is quite rare: 25 out of 237 evaluated facilities in the broadcast area “Sud Ouest” fall into this category this year. Most are vocational high schools. A situational element may explain why fewer high schools are able to stand out: the high school graduation success rates have been remarkable in the last two years, shaped by the pandemic, it is undoubtedly more difficult to stand out.

The mention “selected”, es, denotes the high schools that “lose” a proportion of their students to secondary school, as opposed to “companion” high schools, which promote more of one age group to high school. The very common mentions of “neutral” or “you can do better” in the region are self-explanatory.

“Territorial Inequalities”

How do school leaders perceive these assessments? “These indicators are useful for our management work, but we regret the sometimes hasty publicity given to them. Beware of oversimplifying judgments! Every year there are the lucky ones and those who don’t do so well. But to interpret them correctly, one has to look at these measurements high school by high school over several years, our work cannot be summarized in a one-year ranking,” explains Xavier Yvart, academic secretary of SNPDEN (National Union of Management National Education Staff), School Heads Union.

“The other perverse effect of these tables is that they encourage competition between high schools, which are subject to strong territorial inequalities.”

On the teachers’ side, the Snes (National Union of Second Degree Teachers), the majority second-degree union, is suspicious of these ratings and “their exploitation,” explains Hugo Lassalle, academic secretary. “We understand that there is an expectation from families. The problem is that on the basis of these elements, high schools are challenged when their lower success rate is often due to a lack of funds or unfortunate decisions in national politics, he believes. The other perverse effect of these tables is that they encourage competition between universities that are subject to strong territorial inequalities. On the other hand, we can welcome the fact that they pay more attention to the supervision of students from the second to the last year of study, which is an important point. »

Despite these reservations, the controversy that accompanied the publication of these data a few years ago seems less lively, the “high school graduation ranking” has become part of the school custom.

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