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Understanding low achievement in English schools

  • Robert Cassen
  • Geeta Gandhi Kingdon
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    Tens of thousands of young people leave school with no or very few qualifications in England. This paper seeks to build a fuller picture of Key Stage 4 low achievement and its correlates than available hitherto. We focus on three aspects. Firstly, the role of students' personal characteristics, especially gender, ethnicity and past achievement, in explaining the incidence of low achievement at age 16. Secondly, we investigate the extent to which particular personal characteristics constitute direct risk factors for low achievement and the extent to which they lead to low achievement because of their correlation with unobserved school and neighborhood quality, i.e. the role of sorting into schools and neighborhoods of different quality. We suggest a method of calculating school quality (how effective a school is in helping its pupils to avoid low achievement) which is akin to the value-added concept, and examine which specific observed school characteristics predict this measure of 'school quality'. Thirdly, the paper examines the relationship between school resources - particularly per pupil expenditure - and the avoidance of low achievement, exploiting the panel nature of the National Pupil Database. Going beyond simple discrete choice models, the paper employs school fixed effects regression to reduce endogeneity problems and employs panel data at the student level to analyse school resource effects. A number of interesting findings emerge about the correlates of low achievement and of school quality, and we consider the policy implications of our findings.

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    Paper provided by Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE in its series CASE Papers with number case118.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case118
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    1. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F34-F63, February.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally, 2005. "Gender and Student Achievement in English Schools," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 357-372, Autumn.
    5. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W00/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    7. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1999. "School Inputs And Educational Outcomes In South Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1047-1084, August.
    8. Robert Cassen & Geeta Kingdon, 2007. "Tackling low educational achievement," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 43735, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Steve Bradley & Jim Taylor, 2004. "Ethnicity, educational attainment and the transition from school," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 72(3), pages 317-346, 06.
    10. Feinstein, Leon & Symons, James, 1999. "Attainment in Secondary School," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 300-321, April.
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