Working paper 05/128 - Abstract

Who wins and who loses from school accountability? The distribution of educational gain in English secondary schools (PDF, file 142 KB) (PDF, 142kB)

Simon Burgess, Carol Propper, Helen Slater and Deborah Wilson

In 1988 the UK government introduced greater accountability into the English state school sector. But the information that schools are required to make public on their pupil achievement is only partial. The paper examines whether accountability measures based on a partial summary of student achievement influence the distribution of student achievement. Since school ratings only incorporate test results via pass rates, schools have incentives to improve the performance of students who are on the margin of meeting these standards, to the detriment of very low achieving or high achieving pupils. Using pupil level data for a cohort of all students in secondary public sector schools in England, we find that this policy reduces the educational gains and exam performance in high stakes exams of very low ability students.

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