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Which Ranking? The Use of Alternative Performance Indicators in the English Secondary Education Market


  • Deborah Wilson



Performance tables for UK secondary schools have been published annually since 1992. In 2003, for the first time, these tables additionally include a measure of the educational 'value added' by a school to its pupils. This paper provides the first large scale analysis of the likely impact of the new value added performance indicator on the rankings of schools in the resulting league tables. Our analysis employs a national dataset of matched exam results, recently released by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), which includes the results of the cohort of pupils who sat Key Stage 3 (KS3) exams at age 14 in 1997, and GCSE (or equivalent) exams at age 16 in 1999; this yields data on over half a million pupils. Using this dataset we have replicated five performance indicators which have been or will be published in the UK. In particular, we focus on the key pre-2002 PI, the percentage of pupils gaining at least five GCSEs or equivalent at grade C or above (%5A*-C), and the new value added indicator (VAcap). At a national level, we investigate the relationships between both the indicators themselves and the rankings which result. We then focus on one LEA, Bristol, and show to what extent school positions in the league tables are sensitive to the PI employed. We find a low degree of correlation between %5A*-C and VAcap and the resulting rankings, both at national and local level. This is reflected in the degree to which Bristol schools' ranking positions change when different PIs are employed. We conclude that value added does provide a more accurate measure of school performance and hence should help parental choice. We provide evidence, however, which suggests that a single PI, representing a school average value added score, may not be sufficiently informative.

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  • Deborah Wilson, 2003. "Which Ranking? The Use of Alternative Performance Indicators in the English Secondary Education Market," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/058, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:03/058

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandmo, Agnar & Dreze, Jacques H, 1971. "Discount Rates for Public Investment in Closed and Open Economies," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 38(152), pages 395-412, November.
    2. Bennett, John & Iossa, Elisabetta, 2006. "Building and managing facilities for public services," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 2143-2160, November.
    3. Brealey, R A & Cooper, I A & Habib, M A, 1997. "Investment Appraisal in the Public Sector," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(4), pages 12-28, Winter.
    4. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    5. Oliver Hart, 2003. "Incomplete Contracts and Public Ownership: Remarks, and an Application to Public-Private Partnerships," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 69-76, March.
    6. Arrow, Kenneth J & Lind, Robert C, 1970. "Uncertainty and the Evaluation of Public Investment Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 364-378, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jim Taylor & Anh Ngoc Nguyen, 2006. "An Analysis of the Value Added by Secondary Schools in England: Is the Value Added Indicator of Any Value?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 68(2), pages 203-224, April.
    2. David Rappoport & José Miguel Benavente & Patricio Meller, 2004. "Rankings de Universidades Chilenas Según los Ingresos de sus Titulados," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 306, Central Bank of Chile.
    3. Francisco Pedraja Chaparro & Javier Salinas Jiménez & María del Mar Salinas Jiménez, 2005. "Los indicadores de gestión en el Sector Público," Revista de Economía y Estadística, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Instituto de Economía y Finanzas, vol. 0(2), pages 109-129, July.

    More about this item


    publicly provided goods; analysis of education; privatization;

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

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