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On Educational Performance Measures


  • Alastair Muriel
  • Jeffrey Smith


Quantitative school performance measures (QPMs) are playing an ever larger role in education systems on both sides of the Atlantic. In this paper we outline the rationale for the use of such measures in education, review the literature relating to several important problems associated with their use, and argue that they nonetheless have a positive role to play in improving the educational quality. We delineate several institutional reforms which would help schools to respond "positively" to QPMs, emphasizing the importance of agents' flexibility to change the way they work, and the importance of a sound knowledge base regarding "what works" in raising attainment. We suggest that the present institutional setups in both England and the US too often hold schools accountable for outcomes over which they have little control – but that such problems are far from insurmountable.
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Suggested Citation

  • Alastair Muriel & Jeffrey Smith, 2011. "On Educational Performance Measures," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 32(2), pages 187-206, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:32:y:2011:i::p:187-206 DOI: j.1475-5890.2011.00132.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deborah Wilson & Anete Piebalga, 2008. "Accurate performance measure but meaningless ranking exercise? An analysis of the English school league tables," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 07/176, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
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    Cited by:

    1. Veronica Minaya & Judith Scott-Clayton, 2018. "Labor Market Outcomes and Postsecondary Accountability: Are Imperfect Metrics Better than None?," NBER Chapters,in: Productivity in Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Machin, Stephen & Wyness, Gill & McNally, Sandra, 2013. "Education in a devolved Scotland: a quantitative analysis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 57971, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Veronica Minaya & Judith Scott-Clayton, 2016. "Labor Market Outcomes and Postsecondary Accountability: Are Imperfect Metrics Better than None?," NBER Working Papers 22880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy


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