A review and evaluation of secondary school accountability in England: Statistical strengths, weaknesses, and challenges for 'Progress 8'

04/13/2021
by   Lucy Prior, et al.
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School performance measures are published annually in England to hold schools to account and to support parental school choice. This article reviews and evaluates the Progress 8 secondary school accountability system for state-funded schools. We assess the statistical strengths and weaknesses of Progress 8 relating to: choice of pupil outcome attainment measures; potential adjustments for pupil input attainment and background characteristics; decisions around which schools and pupils are excluded from the measure; presentation of Progress 8 to users, choice of statistical model, and calculation of statistical uncertainty; and issues related to the volatility of school performance over time, including scope for reporting multi-year averages. We then discuss challenges for Progress 8 raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Six simple recommendations follow to improve Progress 8 and school accountability in England.

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