The scale and depth of EWISR 2022-23 is unprecedented in India and worldwide. Over a period of four months, 122 C fore field researchers conducted interviews in 28 cities across the country. They persuaded 14,221 parents, teachers, principals, educationists and students to rate 4,000 primary-secondaries under 14 parameters of school excellence, writes Dilip Thakore & Summiya Yasmeen.
For centuries and even 150 years after British educationist and administrator Thomas Macaulay imposed the formal English education system upon the Indian subcontinent, the overwhelming majority of parents enrolled their children in local schools on the basis of informal consultation and recommendation of friends and relatives. This continued to be prevalent practice after enlightened administrators permitted the establishment of high-end boarding schools in the country’s salubrious hill stations of Mussoorie, Sanawar in the north and Ootacamund and Kodaikanal down south in the mid-19th century. Modelled on imperial Britain’s famous boarding schools for children of administrators of the empire, they also admitted children on the basis of word-of-mouth publicity and recommendations of knowledgeable and influential members of society.
However towards the end of the 20th century after Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of cognition and education at Harvard University, produced his path-breaking Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) and Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice (1993) which posited that every child/individual is gifted with one or more of eight major “intelligences”— musical, bodily-kinesthetic (relating to dance, sports capabilities), logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial (navigation, visual arts), interpersonal (understanding people), intrapersonal (self-study, self-awareness) and naturalist (“high degree of awareness to distinguish diverse plants, animals, mountains or cloud configurations in their ecological niche”) — in various combinations, it became abundantly clear that schools can be scientifically chosen to develop the highest intelligences of children. Even the IQ test developed by French psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and its subsequent variations, including SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), which measure only the linguistic and mathematical capabilities of students, became inadequate.
Therefore somewhat influenced by the Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings (WURs), which evaluate the world’s most respected higher education institutions on six parameters (academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, international faculty ratio, student body diversity, citations per faculty etc), in 2007 your editors introduced the EducationWorld India School Rankings (EWISR) which for the first time rated and ranked the country’s most reputed primary-secondaries under a dozen parameters of school education excellence to assess their capability to develop the multiple intelligences of students.
Since then over the years, the number of parameters of K-12 education excellence under which schools are rated, has risen to 14 including teacher welfare and development, teacher competence, infrastructure, co-curricular and sports education, parental involvement, academic reputation, curriculum and pedagogy, internationalism, mental and emotional well-being services, among others.
Moreover, during the past 15 years since the first EWISR was presented to the public and nation, it has evolved and matured into the world’s largest schools rankings survey, evaluating the relative merits of 4,000 of India’s most well-reputed primary-secondary schools segregated into three major categories — day, boarding and international — with several sub-categories under these main heads to eliminate apples and oranges type comparisons.
This year in response to public and institutional demand that vintage schools with decades of community service are a class apart and should be assessed and ranked inter se, vintage legacy schools are separately ranked in each sub-category.
This innovation is a continuation of your editors’ efforts to make the annual EWISR survey more diverse and inclusive. Over the past 15 years, this annual survey has expanded to include government day, government boarding, special needs and budget private schools which admit children from low-income SEC (socio-economic category) B, C and D households. To rate and rank the latter schools, a separate sample database of 4,000 respondents comprising parents, students, teachers, principals and educationists were interviewed over two months.
“The sheer scale and depth of EWISR 2022-23 is unprecedented in India and perhaps worldwide. Over a period of four months, 122 field researchers conducted interviews in 28 cities across the country. They persuaded 14,221 SEC A fees paying parents, teachers, principals, educationists and senior school students to rate the schools they were aware of on a ten-point scale under 14 parameters, viz, teacher welfare and development, teacher competence, academic reputation, co-curricular activities, internationalism, individual attention to students, curriculum and pedagogy (hybrid learning readiness), sports education, infrastructure, value for money, leadership/management quality, parental involvement, mental & emotional well-being services, special needs education, and community service. Reclusive, low-profile schools evaluated by less than 25 sample respondents were eliminated from the ranking process. The score awarded by every respondent under each parameter was totaled to rank schools in each sub-category,” explains Premchand Palety, promoter-CEO of the Delhi-based Centre for Forecasting & Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore, estb.2000) which has been conducting the annual EWISR for the past 15 years.
This elaborate architecture of the annual EWISR influenced by the multiple intelligences theory, distinguishes it from school rankings surveys abroad, especially in the UK which rate and rank schools inter se on a single parameter viz, academic learning outcomes. After EducationWorld pioneered its multi-dimensional EWISR 15 years ago, several imitative schools ranking surveys have been launched by some professedly education magazines which have blatantly plagiarised this publication’s carefully conceptualised parameters of school excellence. However, all of them lack the robust field surveys evaluation methodology that defines the annual EWISR.
The objective of this yearly exercise is to enable parents to select schools best suited to develop specific intelligences of their children while simultaneously providing balanced, well-rounded primary-secondary education. To facilitate choice of this allimportant institution which will shape their lives, schools are ranked in 22 separate and distinct categories such as co-ed day, day-cum-boarding, allboys and exclusively girls day schools, co-ed boarding boys and girls schools and international day, day-cumboarding and residential schools. This is to avoid apples and oranges type comparisons.
“Apart from enabling parents to choose the most suitable school for their children, the annual EWISR also fulfils the very important objective of enabling school promoters and managements to compare themselves with their peers on all parameters of school education excellence, and strive to attain whole school improvement year-by-year. The socially beneficial outcome is that the school education system as a whole improves with students better prepared for higher education and eventually their workplaces and vocations,” adds Palety, an alum of the high-ranked Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh and Fore School of Management, Delhi, who began his career in ORG, India’s pioneer retail market research firm, and later went solo and promoted C fore in the new millennium year.
Although the defining characteristic of the globally unique EWISR is that it evaluates schools across a broad range of parameters, criticism that the survey is based on perceptions rather than hard data is often articulated. Therefore to add an element of objectivity to perceptual scores awarded by sample respondents under the double weightage parameter of teacher competence, since 2021 all EWISR schools have been invited to nominate six teachers to take a 30 minutes (20 questions) English, maths and science online test, administered by the Bengaluru-based Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA, estb.2014). CENTA is India’s largest teachers online platform which provides testing, certification, training and career development programmes for K-12 teachers.
“During the past 12 months we have experienced 1.5 million selfdriven ‘learning engagements’ by teachers on the MyCENTA platform. This is encouraging response that indicates that our objective of teachers being rewarded for their competencies and therefore ready to learn continuously, is taking root. EWISR evaluates schools on a range of parameters including teacher competence, which is rightly given double weightage. Teachers of schools that did well in the 30-min CENTA test — a subset of our regular CENTA Teaching Quotient test —demonstrated acceptable levels of subject confidence. Therefore, their score under this parameter has improved. We strongly advise all schools to avail this opportunity to assesses their actual teacher competence and simultaneously improve their EWISR scores,” says Ramya Venkataraman, a former McKinsey India consultant and promoter-CEO of CENTA.
Schools which deputed the prescribed cohort of teachers to write the online CENTA-EWISR test are accorded a 10-15 percent higher score under the all-important parameter of teacher competence. Last year when the CENTA test was introduced, only 15 percent of schools in the EWISR league tables nominated teachers to take this test. For the EWISR 2022-23 survey, 20 percent of schools deputed teachers to take the test and improved their scores under the parameter of teacher competence.
Moreover, in pursuance of our quest for continuous improvement and to further distinguish ourselves from several publications which have unapologetically plagiarised the annual EWISR, this year we have incorporated two additional refinements into the world’s largest and most comprehensive school rankings survey.
First, in a tribute to vintage legacy schools which have a history of decades of service to primary-secondary education, we have introduced separate league tables for them in each sub-category. Your editors believe that India’s legacy schools of over 90 years vintage are sui generis. Therefore, they have been assessed and ranked inter se in eight sub-categories.
Secondly, in cases where two or more schools are ranked #1, we have awarded a 1+ rank to institutions which have recently recorded extraordinary achievement under EWISR or other parameters of primary secondary education. And despite the lukewarm response from schools to the CENTA teacher evaluation test which impacts scores awarded under the all-important parameter of teacher competence, we have retained the test in the hope that a progressively incremental number of school managements will depute representative teachers to write CENTA’s online 30 minute test in the years ahead to assess the quality and competence of their teachers and plan professional development programmes accordingly.
In this (September) Part I issue, we present national, state, city and parameter league tables of all day schools (co-ed day, boys, girls and day-cum-boarding) as well as vintage legacy day schools within these subcategories. The next (October) Part II issue will feature boarding, international, government, special needs, philanthropy and Top 25 budget private schools league tables.
For the complete table: EW India School Rankings 2022-23 – Top & best schools in India