21/08/2006 Education Sociology
DOI: 10.1080/02680930500500435 SemanticScholar ID: 144519551 MAG: 2069691103

Value‐added is of little value

Publication Summary

Published indicators of school ‘performance’, such as those shown annually in league tables in England, have been controversial since their inception. Raw‐score figures for school outcomes are heavily dependent on the prior attainment and family background of the students. Policy‐makers in Wales have reacted to this fundamental flaw by withdrawing the publication of school results. In England, on the other hand, they have reacted by asking for more information to be added to tables, in the form of student context such as the percentage with a special educational need, and ‘value‐added’ figures. In 2004, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) value‐added figures for England were based on student progress from Key Stage 2 at the end of primary education to GCSE at the end of compulsory secondary education. For 2005, at time of writing, the DfES plan to use context information in their model as well. This paper re‐analyses the 2004 value‐added figures and shows that they contain the same flaw as the original raw‐score tables. The purported value‐added scores turn out to be a proxy for the overall level of attainment in the school, and almost entirely independent of any differential progress made by the students. The paper concludes by considering the implications of these findings, if accepted, for policies based on identifying schools that are clearly more or less effective, and for the field of school effectiveness and improvement research.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Stephen Gorard

Prof. Stephen Gorard

University of Durham - Professor in the School of Education

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