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How should we treat under-performing schools? A regression discontinuity analysis of school inspections in England

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  • Rebecca Allen

    () (Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK.)

  • Simon Burgess

    () (Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol.)

Abstract

School inspections are an important part of the accountability framework for education in England. In this paper we use a panel of schools to evaluate the effect of a school failing its inspection. We collect a decade’s worth of data on how schools are judged across a very large range of sub-criteria, alongside an overall judgement of effectiveness. We use this data within a fuzzy regression discontinuity design to model the impact of ‘just’ failing the inspection, relative to the impact of ‘just’ passing. This analysis is implemented using a time-series of school performance and pupil background data. Our results suggest that schools only just failing do see an improvement in scores over the following two to three years. The effect size is moderate to large at around 10% of a pupil-level standard deviation in test scores. We also show that this improvement occurs in core compulsory subjects, suggesting that this is not all the result of course entry gaming on the part of schools. There is little positive impact on lower ability pupils, with equally large effects for those in the middle and top end of the ability distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca Allen & Simon Burgess, 2012. "How should we treat under-performing schools? A regression discontinuity analysis of school inspections in England," DoQSS Working Papers 12-02, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:qss:dqsswp:1202
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David J. Deming & Sarah Cohodes & Jennifer Jennings & Christopher Jencks, 2016. "School Accountability, Postsecondary Attainment, and Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(5), pages 848-862, December.
    2. David J. Deming & David Figlio, 2016. "Accountability in US Education: Applying Lessons from K-12 Experience to Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 33-56, Summer.
    3. Iftikhar Hussain, 2015. "Subjective Performance Evaluation in the Public Sector: Evidence from School Inspections," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 189-221.
    4. Gregory Elacqua & Mat’as Martinez & Humberto Santos & Daniela Urbina, 2012. "School closures in Chile: Access to quality alternatives in a school choice system," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 39(2 Year 20), pages 179-202, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    school inspection; school accountability; school attainment; regression discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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