Excellence in Cities has achieved only limited success, official research has revealed.
An evaluation for the Department for Education and Skills of exam results in EiC schools found the policy had a "very modest" impact on key stage 3, GCSE and vocational results.
Research led by Stephen Machin, of University College, London, compared the results of pupils in EiC schools in 2001 and 2002 with those of similar-ability pupils in non-EiC schools. It found EiC increased the probability of pupils achieving level 5 in key stage 3 tests by around 0.7 per cent.
Girls' average GCSEGeneral National Vocational Qualification points score, where an A* grade counts as eight points and a G, one point, were increased by a third of a point by EiC. For boys, there was no increase.
The results, described as preliminary because 2003 data was not included, were slightly more impressive among EiC schools that had neither very high nor very low proportions of pupils achieving five Cs or better at GCSE.
A separate survey of 2,000 teachers and managers in EiC schools, by the National Foundation for Educational Research, found that respondents were impressed with aspects of EiC, including the use of "learning mentors".
However, one in five managers felt that the gifted and talented programme for the most able pupils was divisive.