This year a group of BT Young Scientists from Millstreet Community School, Cork, undertook a project to rank post-primary schools in Ireland. This was borne out of the fact that the league tables that appear in national media every year are based on incomplete, misleading, and often out of date data.
This year, the former education editor of Independent Newspapers, John Walsh, warned readers that the information in the league tables was not a representation of school success, but just a measure of where students from that school attended college. The data does not form an adequate means of ranking schools as:
They do not record students who went to university outside the island of Ireland (last year a number of Dominican College students went to universities in the USA, the UK, and Poland ).
Students who left school in previous years or have switched courses may also be included in the figures for this year.
Some students, depending on how they completed college applications, may be counted twice on the system.
This data is only about students’ progression to third level, it does not take into account other important information about student progress and achievement.
The students carrying out this project looked internationally for more accurate and holistic means of ranking schools. They compiled a set of criteria for evaluating schools in Ireland. These included:
The percentage of students progressing to third level.
The socioeconomic status of the town/city in which the school is located.
Each school’s provision of additional areas for student development and education such as sporting, artistic, cultural, scientific, and academic extracurricular activities.
Each school’s participation and success in national competitions.
The project team applied these criteria, with relevant weightings, to a sample of 100 Irish post-primary schools, and Dominican College was ranked first. This was in recognition of the academic success and achievements of its students, the school’s provision of a wide ranging educational experience, and the success of its students in national competitions.
Dominican College principal, Alan Kinsella, said that the whole school community was delighted to be recognised in this fashion. He added: "It is beneficial for the overall education of children that a more holistic and accurate means of measuring student achievement be utilised, so that we can be sure that all our students receive the high quality education they deserve that will prepare them for university, work, and life."