The lists show England's maintained secondary schools and colleges and independent schools, excluding special schools.
They are listed in three ways: alphabetically, and ranked on their GCSE/GNVQ results and on their advanced level results, where applicable.
In each type of ranking, the exam performance on which the ranking is based is shown alongside the ranking achieved.
Smaller schools with fewer than 30 candidates are not ranked, although for completeness they are included in the alphabetical lists.
Independent schools have (IND) after their name, selective schools have (SEL), specialist schools have a letter signifying their specialism: A, S, T, or L for Arts, Sport, Technology, or Languages.
This year, schools which said they were significantly affected by the movement restrictions imposed because of the foot and mouth outbreak are flagged (F&M).
Clicking on any establishment's name in the lists takes you to a page showing its results and other information.
Results are presented as graphs as well as in figures, scaled from zero to "top" - to compare the school's results with how well the highest ranking school has done in that category this year.
For the GCSE/GNVQs, the equivalent figures for the previous three years are also listed and the graphs reflect these.
There is no such trend this year for advanced level results because the basis on which the data has been made available by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has changed.
There are also the averages for this year for the local education authority as a whole, and for all of England.
Independent schools choose whether or not to be included in the performance tables. They do not have a local education authority but are grouped with other schools in their geographical area.
The averages for an area are for the state schools in the relevant LEA. The national averages do include independent schools.
The exam results
NA in the tables indicates that there is no data or that the category is not applicable. The reasons for this vary: for example, it might be a new school this year - or, in historical data, did not exist at the time - or did not have any relevant exam entries.
The GCSE/GNVQ figure is the percentage of pupils who achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C or GNVQ equivalents.
The DfES defines the group as being those who were 15 at the start of the academic year, but counts their results from whenever they were taken even if they have since moved to a different school.
This disadvantages schools which enter pupils late for the exams for whatever reason.
As a tie-break in the listings, schools achieving the same rank are further ranked on the number of pupils eligible to sit the GCSEs - it is harder to get a larger number through at a higher level - and are then listed alphabetically.
The Eligible figure shows this total number of 15 year olds in the school, followed by the percentage of them with special educational needs (SEN), with or without statements.
The Absence figure is the percentage of half days missed by pupils due to unauthorised absence: negl. means less than 0.05%, and ? means the school did not provide the information.
The ADV. LEVEL result this year embraces all relevant qualifications.
Colleges had complained that their achievements would be significantly misrepresented if any tables reported in the media used either the A/AS-level results or the Advanced GNVQ results. (In an effort to address this issue in previous years BBC News Online has provided both.)
The DfES has decided this year not to release those separate sets of data to the media. They are being published on the department's own performance tables.
The first results reflecting the Curriculum 2000 changes, including new AS-levels, will be in the 2002 tables.
The combined figure that has been released for 2001 shows the average points scored per exam entry by students aged 17 or 18 at the end of two years of advanced study, rather than the annual "snapshot" of previous years.
They might have taken at least one "old style" A-level or Advanced Supplementary (AS) exam, and/or an Advanced GNVQ.
The points for A-levels are assigned as: grade A = 10, B = 8, C = 6, D = 4, E = 2. The AS points are half those for A-levels.
Advanced GNVQ points are assigned as follows: Distinction = 18, Merit = 12, Pass = 6.
The top school this year achieved 9.5 points.
As a tie-break, schools achieving the same score are further ranked on the number of pupils entered for the exams - the Entries figure - then alphabetically.
Type and admissions policy of institution - what all those codes mean:
CY - Community school (formerly county school) - maintained by the local education authority (LEA), which is responsible for the school's admissions policy.
VA - Voluntary aided maintained by the LEA, with a foundation (generally religious) which appoints most of the governing body. The governing body is usually responsible for the school's admissions policy.
VC - Voluntary controlled school - maintained by the LEA, with a foundation (generally religious) which appoints some governors.
FD - Foundation school (formerly grant-maintained).
CTC - City Technology College.
IND - Independent school - mostly fee-paying.
FESI - Further education sector institution - an FE college or sixth form college.
COMP - Comprehensive - takes all pupils, usually regardless of their ability, aptitude, or whether they have been selected for a place at a selective school.
MOD - Modern - takes pupils regardless of their ability or aptitude and who have not been selected for a place at a selective school.
SEL - Selective - takes pupils depending on their ability or aptitude.
NONSEL - Non-selective - independent school which takes pupils usually regardless of their ability or aptitude.
BOYS, GIRLS, MIXED - shows whether or not the school is single sex.
The age range is self-explanatory except that all FE sector colleges have an age range of "16+", and therefore no GCSE results.
Sixth form centres and consortia
In some areas schools co-operate in a group as a sixth form centre or consortium, whose results are shown separately.
To distinguish between schools with the same name the lists also give their education authority areas.
Schools which take in pupils expelled from elsewhere can count any exam passes the students achieve, but do not have to include them in their headcount - so boosting their overall result. Adjustments have been made in respect of 479 pupils admitted to 391 schools.
The department has dropped the policy of counting the expelled pupil as if he or she were still on the roll of the excluding school, which had the effect of depressing its result.
The department accepts that it is unfair for schools to be judged on the results of children who have arrived recently from overseas and whose first language is not English, so they can choose to omit them from the performance tables. Adjustments have been made in respect of 1,510 pupils in 319 schools.
This change is also reflected in their local education authorities' averages - but not in the national averages.