The limitations of using school league tables to inform school choice

Leckie, G. and Goldstein, H.
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, 172(4), 835-851

In England, so-called "league tables" based on examination results and test scores are published annually, ostensibly to inform parental choice of secondary schools. A crucial limitation of these tables is that the most recent published information is based on the current performance of a cohort of pupils who entered secondary schools several years earlier, whereas for choosing a school it is the future performance of the current cohort that is of interest. We show that there is substantial uncertainty in predicting such future performance and that incorporating this uncertainty leads to a situation where only a handful of schools' future performances can be separated from both the overall mean and from one another with an acceptable degree of precision. This suggests that school league tables, including value-added tables, have very little to offer as guides to school choice.

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Multivariate response model?
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MEDIA IMPACT: 2010 - ESRC Britain in 2010 magazine, 2009 - BBC website, ESRC Society now magazine Issue 4 Summer, 2009, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Public Finance magazine, The Telegraph, The Times Educational Supplement, 2008 - BBC Radio 4 The Learning Curve, The Guardian, The Telegraph

Paper submitted by
George Leckie, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol,
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