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Accurate performance measure but meaningless ranking exercise? An analysis of the English school league tables

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  • Deborah Wilson
  • Anete Piebalga

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Abstract

Parental choice among schools in England is informed by annually published school performance (league) tables. The 2006 league tables included a measure of contextual value added (CVA) for the first time. By explicitly accounting for the characteristics of a school’s intake, CVA should provide a more accurate measure of the impact a school has on its pupils’ progress, i.e. on school effectiveness. In this paper we use UK government administrative data to replicate CVA and other key performance measures in order to investigate the extent to which the current league tables provide the information necessary to support parental choice on the basis of school effectiveness. We find that while CVA does provide a more accurate measure of school performance or effectiveness, school rankings based on CVA are largely meaningless: almost half of English secondary schools are indistinguishable from the national average.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 07/176.

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Length: 11 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:07/176

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Keywords: education; performance measures; ranking;

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References

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  1. Burgess, Simon & Propper, Carol & Slater, Helen & Wilson, Deborah, 2005. "Who wins and who loses from school accountability? The distribution of educational gain in English secondary schools," CEPR Discussion Papers 5248, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Deborah Wilson & Simon Burgess & Adam Briggs, 2005. "The Dynamics of School Attainment of England’s Ethnic Minorities," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 05/130, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  3. Andy Wiggins, 2002. "Dysfunctional Effects of League Tables: A Comparison Between English and Scottish Primary Schools," Public Money & Management, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, vol. 22(1), pages 43-48, 01.
  4. Jesse M. Rothstein, 2006. "Good Principals or Good Peers? Parental Valuation of School Characteristics, Tiebout Equilibrium, and the Incentive Effects of Competition among Jurisdictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1333-1350, September.
  5. Carol Propper & Deborah Wilson, 2003. "The Use and Usefulness of Performance Measures in the Public Sector," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/073, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  6. Harvey Goldstein & Simon Burgess & Brendon McConnell, 2007. "Modelling the effect of pupil mobility on school differences in educational achievement," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(4), pages 941-954.
  7. repec:rus:hseeco:122160 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Meyer, Robert H., 1997. "Value-added indicators of school performance: A primer," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 283-301, June.
  9. Randall Reback & Julie Berry Cullen, 2006. "Tinkering toward accolades: School gaming under a performance accountability system," Working Papers 0601, Barnard College, Department of Economics.
  10. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2002. "The Promise and Pitfalls of Using Imprecise School Accountability Measures," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 91-114, Fall.
  11. Deborah Wilson, 2004. "Which Ranking? The Impact of a 'Value-Added' Measure of Secondary School Performance," Public Money & Management, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, vol. 24(1), pages 37-45, 01.
  12. Deborah Wilson & Bronwyn Croxson & Adele Atkinson, 2004. "“What Gets Measured Gets Done”: Headteachers’ Responses to the English Secondary School," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 04/107, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  13. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Deborah Wilson, 2008. "Exit, Voice and Quality in the English Education Sector," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/194, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  2. Muriel, Alastair & Smith, Jeffrey A., 2011. "On Educational Performance Measures," IZA Discussion Papers 5897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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