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Do school inspections improve primary school performance?


  • Dinand Webbink


  • Rob Luginbuhl


  • I. de Wolf


Inspectors from the Dutch Inspectorate of Education inspect primary schools, write inspection reports on each inspected school, and make recommendations as to how each school can improve. We test whether these inspections result in better school performance. Using a fixed-effects model, we find evidence that school inspections do lead to measurably better school performance. Our assessment of school performance is based on the Cito test scores of pupils in their final year of primary school. Therefore school improvement means increased Cito test scores. The results indicate that the Cito test scores improve by 2% to 3% of a standard deviation of the test score in the two years following an inspection. The arithmetic component shows the largest improvement. Our estimates are the result of an analysis of two types of school inspections performed between 1999 and 2002, where one type was more intensive than the other. In one fixed-effects model, we assume that the effect of the two types of school inspections was the same. We cannot, however, be sure that the estimates from this model are free from the problem of endogeneity bias. Therefore, we also obtain estimates for a less restrictive fixed-effects model. In this less restrictive model, we make use of the fact that a subset of the more intensive school inspections occurs at a representative selection of primary schools. Based on this smaller, essentially randomly drawn sample of schools, we can be confident that these estimates of the effect of school inspections are free from endogeneity bias. Due to the limited number of inspections at randomly selected schools, these estimates are not significantly different from zero. These estimates are, however, consistent with the effects found based on all inspections. The less restrictive model also allows for the effect of the more intensive inspections to differ from that for the less intensive ones. We find evidence that the more intensive inspections are responsible for larger increases in the Cito test scores than the less intensive ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Dinand Webbink & Rob Luginbuhl & I. de Wolf, 2007. "Do school inspections improve primary school performance?," CPB Discussion Paper 83, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:83

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 843-877.
    2. Rosenthal, Leslie, 2004. "Do school inspections improve school quality? Ofsted inspections and school examination results in the UK," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 143-151, April.
    3. Figlio, David N. & Lucas, Maurice E., 2004. "Do high grading standards affect student performance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1815-1834, August.
    4. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2008. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9787111235767, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isabella Sulis & Mariano Porcu, 2015. "Assessing Divergences in Mathematics and Reading Achievement in Italian Primary Schools: A Proposal of Adjusted Indicators of School Effectiveness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 122(2), pages 607-634, June.

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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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