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Make ranking schools meaningful

There is not only inherently, but also dangerously wrong about ranking schools. The idea is at best anachronistic. When the whole system is streamlined in such a way that there ought not to be any difference at all among the Bhutanese schools, what purpose does the ranking serve, really?

It is, therefore, not for no reason that some schools continue to protest that the ranking system is not only unfair, but also vastly meaningless.

Education monitoring division’s annual rankings of schools released last week so looks like more an unnecessary engagement that could be fine-tuned if it must achieve any relevance among teachers and educators.

Scorecards were based on three areas – academic learning scorecard (ALS) quality enabling practices, and GNH. ALS measures a school’s performance against student academic outcomes such as percentage of students performing above 45 percent, 60 percent, and 70 percent. We are told that it also stresses on authentic learning rather than rote learning. Quality enabling practices scorecard measures effectiveness of critical processes and practices of school’s management, quality and impact of teaching and training, infrastructure, and effectiveness of school planning processes. GNH scorecard measures achievement on GNH values and practices in schools measured against GNH indicators developed by the education monitoring division.

For indeed, every subject taught in our schools has a GNH value! How do you measure the complexity and the beauty of mathematics, for example? Our schools at best seem to teach the subjects only to pass or clear the examinations. If the premise of ranking schools lies in which school performs the best in examinations without understanding or taking into account how many teaching-hours were devoted to teaching children the basics, we are getting the whole idea of ranking the schools wrong.

The real problem lies in the ranking report not telling us in which category most of our school that did not make to the top failed. For our schools to be equally competitive, we need to know where some have fallen short. Otherwise, the ranking does not give us the true picture of our schools. For one, when a teacher’s promotion is at stake because of some elements in the performance evaluation system, he or she knows what best to do – to be generous with marking.

For the schools to know where they must get to, they must have some idea of where they are and by how far they have fallen short. Ranking schools can become meaningful or else.

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