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League tables rethink helps the less privileged

FRANCE

The education ministry has overhauled secondary league tables to take into account pupils' social background.

For the first time since rankings were first published eight years ago, the pass rates of candidates for the Baccalaureat school-leaver exam has been compared with added-value.

Tables will take into account pupils' relative affluence as well as the proportion of pupils who drop out before the exam or take it late. Pupils have to repeat years if they fail to make the grade.

By taking account of socio-economic background, pupils' ages and drop-out rates the measurement enables some lycees in poorer areas to show that they perform better than might first appear, the report said.

Lastyear, 91 per cent of younger pupils from the most privileged backgrounds passed the Baccaluareat against 67 per cent of older pupils from the least privileged backgrounds.

"The aim is to inform as widely as possible the users of the education system, and to give principals and teachers tools to help them improve the efficiency of their work," said Jean-Richard Cytermann, director of the ministry's programme and development division.

A record 80 per cent of pupils in the 4,222 public and private general, technology and vocational lycees obtained the Bac in 2000.

There is an estimated gap of more than 20 percentage points between the Bac pass rate of the top third and the bottom third of lycees.


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