Assessment, League Tables and School Effectiveness: Consider the Issues and ‘Let’s Get Real’!

Kenneth J. Rowe

Abstract


Current policy activity related to ‘outcomes-based’ educational performance
indicators and its link with growing demands for accountability, standards
monitoring, target-setting, benchmarking and school effectiveness is
widespread – in Australia and internationally. Within this context, the
present paper highlights the limitations of using performance indicators based
on test or examination scores as accountability measures at the school- and
system-level, or indeed, as measures of student learning outcomes. The
issues raised are presented for consideration, stressing the need for caution in
generating and publishing potentially invalid and misleading information,
especially in the typically published form of ‘league tables’ consisting of
schools’ raw, ‘ability-adjusted’, or ‘value-added’ average achievement
scores, with the risk of generating both individual and institutional harm. As
a means of at least minimising such problems, the paper outlines a code of
ethics for the publication of educational performance indicators along the
lines proposed by Goldstein and Myers (1996), and Myers and Goldstein
(1996).

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