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Subjective Performance Evaluation in the Public Sector: Evidence from School Inspections


  • Iftikhar Hussain


Performance measurement in the public sector is largely based on objective metrics, which may be subject to gaming behaviour. This paper investigates a novel subjective performance evaluation system where independent inspectors visit schools at very short notice, publicly disclose their findings and sanction schools rated fail. First, I demonstrate that inspection ratings can aid in distinguishing between more and less effective schools, even after controlling for standard observed school characteristics. Second, exploiting a natural experiment, I show that a fail inspection leads to test score gains; at least some of these gains persist in the medium term. I find no evidence to suggest that fail schools are able to inflate test score performance by gaming the system. Oversight by inspectors may play an important role in mitigating such strategic behaviour.

Suggested Citation

  • Iftikhar Hussain, 2012. "Subjective Performance Evaluation in the Public Sector: Evidence from School Inspections," CEE Discussion Papers 0135, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0135

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Y. Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions That Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1237-1258, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bertoni, Marco & Brunello, Giorgio & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2013. "When the cat is near, the mice won't play: The effect of external examiners in Italian schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 65-77.
    2. Francisco Cabrera-Hernandez, 2015. "Does lengthening the school day increase students’ academic achievement? Evidence from a natural experiment," Working Paper Series 7415, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    3. Saarimaa, Tuukka & Harjunen, Oskari & Kortelainen, Mika, 2014. "Best Education Money Can Buy? Capitalization of School Quality in Finland," Working Papers 58, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Cabrera Hernández, Francisco-Javier, 2016. "Essays on the impact evaluation of education policies in Mexico," Economics PhD Theses 0316, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.

    More about this item


    subjective performance evaluation; gaming behavior; school inspections.;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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