20 February 2015

School of Cultural and Professional Learning and Office of Education Research, Faculty of Education present a workshop to be held on Friday, 20 February in A Block, Level 3, Room A330, Kelvin Grove Campus, Victoria Park Road, Queensland University of Technology.

Since 1992, the UK Government has published so-called 'school league tables' summarizing the average educational 'attainment' and 'progress' made by pupils in each state-funded secondary school in England. In 2011 the Government made 'expected progress' their new headline measure of school progress.

In this talk we analyse the data underlying their latest 2013 tables in order to statistically critique expected progress and compare it to the multilevel 'value-added' modelling approach. We find expected progress to be severely wanting. First, it perversely incentivises schools to concentrate their efforts on pupils who are borderline in terms of making expected progress. Second, it exhibits an upwards and illogical saw-tooth relationship with prior attainment, severely biasing it in favour of schools with high prior attaining intakes. Third, it makes no attempt to quantify and communicate the statistical uncertainty in measuring school progress. In contrast, we describe and illustrate how the multilevel value-added modelling approach can go a long way to addressing these statistical problems while providing various other advantages over expected progress.

However, many concerns remain when making quantitative comparisons between schools. We therefore urge that the results of all such analyses be interpreted more cautiously than is currently the case. While we focus on England's experience of school league tables, the statistical issues discussed are very relevant to the Australian context and the use of NAPLAN tests and the My School website for measuring and communicating the effectiveness of schools and teachers for school improvement, accountability and choice purposes.


Dr George Leckie, a visiting fellow at Queensland University of Technology, is a Senior Lecturer in Social Statistics at the Centre for Multilevel Modelling at the University of Bristol. His methodological interests are in the application and dissemination of multilevel and other latent variable models to analyse educational and social science data. Particular areas of interest include multilevel analysis of non-hierarchical data (e.g. cross-classified models, multiple membership models), longitudinal data analysis (e.g. growth-curve models, latent class growth analysis, growth mixture models, dynamic models), and dyadic data analysis (e.g. actor-partner interdependence model, social relations model).

20 February 2015
Kelvin Grove Campus, Victoria Park Road, Queensland University of Technology
A330, Level 3, A Block
School of Cultural and Professional Learning and Office of Education Research Faculty of Education
by 3pm Thursday, 19th February to Wilhelmina Ramakers –
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Dr George Leckie