SCMP Friday, April 7, 2000

Pass rate 'labelling' of schools attacked


Secondary school heads have hit out at the Education Department for labelling schools by releasing their public-exam pass rates in a profile.

"Newspapers have been running league tables on the top 10 and bottom 10 schools, as well as the top and bottom schools attended by movie stars, celebrities and officials," Stephen Hui Chin-yim, chairman of the Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, said.

"And it won't end as other tables will be compiled by the media.

"We don't oppose enhancing transparency on schools, but the message and the labelling effect have made a negative impact."

Mr Hui feared students at schools ranked at the bottom might feel ashamed.

He also suggested parents refer to profiles compiled by individual schools as they were more comprehensive.

The Secondary School Profile, issued on Monday for the first time, provides information of the pass rates in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination with the consent of schools.

About 60 per cent of schools have withheld information. The profile also comments on 44 out of all 426 secondary schools which have been evaluated as "value-added", meaning they have demonstrated significant improvement on students' academic performance.

The evaluation is compulsory and carried out according to a method created by the Education Department which has been branded arbitrary by critics.

Mr Hui said the information would not help schools improve.

"Just saying we have no obvious growth without giving the figures and the comparison with other schools will not help us improve," he said.

Tik Chi-yuen, chairman of the Committee on Home-School Co-operation which collected the information from schools, denied the profile would generate a labelling effect.

"Those named in the profile are schools which have shown significant improvement in their academic performances during the past year and not all are in the top band."

Mr Tik said the profile was compiled on the advice of teachers and other academic groups in the education sector.