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Nine-year wait nearly over for value-added data

VALUE-ADDED measures of performance that have taken nine years to develop may begin to emerge within a year once a national computer system is introduced.

According to an unpublished report on the four-year national pilot programmes, the ScotXed (Scottish Exchange of Educational Data) project will from this summer collect information about each year group. Analysis of some 60,000 pupils will allow schools to calculate how much they add to learning over several years.

Details about individuals will include free meal entitlement, ethnic background, home postcode, 5-14 attainment levels and whether they are looked after or have special educational needs or individualised education programmes.

Within 12 months of collecting the data, the Scottish Executive is believed to be committed to supplying comprehensive analysis on national and regional performance and on benchmark information.

As the final report on the pilot programme notes: "The analysis could become more sophisticated. For example, progress on 5-14 attainment level results could be analysed by any combination of pupil characteristics.

"The postcode variable could also provide a link to other deprivation indicators generated on a geographical basis. It will also be possible to phase in the analysis of 5-14 results against other perfor-mance measures such as pupil attendanceabsence data."

Value-added scores measure the difference in the performance of a class from one year to the next, and are entirely separate from 5-14 targets which show the percentage of pupils expected to achieve the level considered relevant for their stage.

The national working group opted to use the system deployed by Inverclyde and not the Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) system used by one in three authorities. The Inverclyde system allocates points - for example, A equals 1, B equals 2, C equals 3. If half the pupils in a P4 class reach level A and half reach level B, the average score for the class will be 1.5. The value added is the difference between the average scores for the class each year.

At a practical level, the large turnover of school staff during the project created "difficulties in maintaining consistency".

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