Significantly suspect ratings

11th August 2006 at 01:00
Surely, relating a school's value-added (VA) rating to the mean is nonsense (TES, Letters, July 28)?

The point of the Government's VA rating is to see how a school is improving its pupils' lot from what is predicted from their prior attainment in key stage 2 (and 3) Sats to what they achieve at the end of key stage 4. Thus a school with a score of 1,000 has done its job well by meeting expectations, a school with a score below 1,000 will show a loss of value to the extent of the shortfall.

Dr Jones' school achieved a "significantly above average" value added score of 1,011.7 but should have been recorded as having a score "significantly above prediction". So a school with a score of 988 or below should be recorded as "significantly below prediction" and therefore seriously not achieving to its pupils capablities. There are clearly many schools who have given themselves a self-congratulatory pat on the back in their annual reports for achieving "broadly average" ratings, which hide their significantly poor performance.

My own school is one of the Department for Education and Skills-approved special schools for children with specific learning difficulties and dyslexia (and the only one in the Midlands) that takes in very low achievers at key stage 2 or 3 and consistently achieves the highest VA ratings of about 1,200 at key stage 4. How does one describe the "significance" of such ratings?

Dr E Neville Brown

Principal

Maple Hayes Hall

Lichfield

Staffordshire

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