Doubts on value-added tables

23rd February 1996 at 00:00
Value-added league tables based on primary school assessment in England and Wales are not going to be possible for a long time, if at all, a report commissioned by the Government's School Curriculum and Assessment Authority predicts.

An interim report from the Curriculum Evaluation and Management Centre at Newcastle University, which has also done work for the Scottish Office, says that early evidence shows comparisons of pupils' results at the key stages of primary school with those at GCSE offer a suitable basis for value-added measures.

Small classes and transient populations make statistical analysis more difficult in primary schools.

Peter Tymms, co-author of the primary school document, said the four-year gap between key stages 1 and 2 created difficulties. The research showed that looking at averages and scores for whole schools would not work because of the variation caused by having different school populations at each stage of the analysis.

There may, however, be more of a case for secondary schools where the numbers involved make statistical analysis more meaningful.

Mr Tymms said: "There is great dissatisfaction at the league tables for secondary schools which have been around for a few years now. Schools want there to be a fairer system."

He does believe that both primary and secondary schools, using information based on pupil performance, will be able to judge their progress. While there may be a large difference between the levels reached by different schools, the level made from pupil entry to exit may not be so different.

In Scotland, there is also a search for reliable measurements of value added, but there is no prospect of using 5-14 assessments at the end of primary 7 to gauge the "added value" by the time of Standard grade and Higher and so make published SCE comparisons between schools more meaningful.

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