Results Season 2016-2017


It's the time of year when international schools all over the world start publishing their results from the 2016-2017 examination season, and broadcasting these far and wide.

Our Malaysian international schools are no different - we are seeing results flashed on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, and proudly paraded across the front page of newsletters and websites.

However - and as many parents know - these statistics are only a small part of the story. As an anonymous wit once quipped, "There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics".

Now, we aren't saying our international schools are liars - far from it! But there is certainly a need to consider exam results with a critical and quizzical eye. There are several questions as need to ask ourselves, particularly when trying to compare schools' results. Here are the three biggies....

Firstly: how were these statistics calculated?

The standard procedure is for schools to count the total number of grades awarded: for example, 100 students x 10 IGCSE grades each = 1000 total grades. They then work out how many of those were, say, A or A* to turn that into a percentage (let's say there were 450 A or A* grades; that means the school could state their cohort had achieved 45% A-A*s).

However, there are a couple of things to consider here.

For one, some international schools don't include some students' grades. This is a bit dodgy, but some schools do not include the grades from their worst performing candidates - in order to improve their statistics & grade averages - for various reasons (like the students have left the school, so are no longer considered part of the student body...)

If a student is at real risk of significantly underachieving, some schools will make them enter their exam