Who's to judge value of tables?

24th November 2000 at 00:00
VALUE added. Do we want it? For school management purposes, most emphatically yes. For performance tables, I am not so sure. What is more, I am not convinced that the two uses are compatible.

My school has been at the forefront of value-added developments since the late 1980s. Even so, without a full explanation, I struggle to understand what the results of the Department for Education and Employment pilot really mean.

If that is the case, how will the general public understand the results if, for example, they have no real grasp of "significance"? How will we stop local newspapers publishing league tables based on statistically insignificant figures? The one thing that can be said for raw results is that they relate directly to actual grades. <> Schools will soon learn how to manipulate value-added to their advantage. It has been happening for some time. Many schools have been concentrating on CD borderline pupils for some time.

Some schools enter pupils for as many subjects as possible to enhance their points score. Others enter large numbers of pupils for GNVQ intermediate IT which equates to four GCSEs. Who can blame them when market pressures are what they are?

If schools start manoeuvring the data to address the market, the data becomes corrupted and value-added less reliable. Of course, it is the existence of the tables that is the real issue. Surely we are accountable enough without them?

Geoff Cooper

Weston Road high school

Blackheath Lane, Stafford

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