Flawed measure of performance

25th November 2005 at 00:00
I am writing to draw your readers' attention to the flaws in the concept of context value added (CVA) as applied by Ofsted in its evaluation of schools.

I appreciate the need to move from crude measures of attainment value-added measures. But CVA is based not simply on a pupil's progress, but also ethnic make-up, deprivation and gender balance. Yet these factors are mostly the same for pupils on intake as at the end of their time in school.

And CVA misses a crucial factor in a school's context, namely funding per pupil of which there is a huge variation.

The statistical basis on which CVA is predicated is also flawed. I assume that there is hard evidence to justify including ethnicity and gender as significant factors in a school's context.

I do not understand how the same can be true for deprivation: given that a pupil may be entitled to free school meals in Year 7 but no longer by Year 11, or vice versa, CVA also implies that we as a nation have lower expectations of ethnic minority and poor children and boys.

Philip Grady

Headteacher Bury Church of England high school, Haslam Brow Bury, Lancashire

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