Working paper 07/176 - abstract

Accurate performance measure but meaningless ranking exercise? An analysis of the English school league tables. (PDF, 407kB)

Deborah Wilson and Anete Piebalga

Parental choice among schools in England is informed by annually published school performance (league) tables. The 2006 league tables included a measure of contextual value added (CVA) for the first time. By explicitly accounting for the characteristics of a school’s intake, CVA should provide a more accurate measure of the impact a school has on its pupils’ progress, i.e. on school effectiveness. In this paper we use UK government administrative data to replicate CVA and other key performance measures in order to investigate the extent to which the current league tables provide the information necessary to support parental choice on the basis of school effectiveness. We find that while CVA does provide a more accurate measure of school performance or effectiveness, school rankings based on CVA are largely meaningless: almost half of English secondary schools are indistinguishable from the national average.

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