UK to get better league tables

The Telegraph reports:

Parents will get powers to rank local schools using a series of new-style measures under Government plans to stop schools massaging their results.

They will be able to sort primaries and secondaries based on results in any subject to find out which schools are best for sciences, languages, history, geography, music, drama or even PE.

Families can also find out which schools have the worst attendance records and the highest number of exclusions.

Currently, schools are principally ranked of pupils gaining five good GCSEs in almost any subject.

But critics claim the measure is too crude and schools can inflate their positions by moving pupils onto “soft” subjects or prioritising vocational courses that are often worth the equivalent of five GCSEs.

A Coalition source said the move would boost transparency following attempts by Labour to hide the “shocking performance of some of our schools”.

This is what we should be getting in New Zealand. What I especially like is that having realised the existing league tables are crude, the response is to improve the league tables by providing more data.

I agree with critics of league tables that a league table that merely ranks school on the basis of the percentage of students who make a particular grade, doesn’t provide a fair comparison.

But the answer is not to ban the publication of educational data as the teacher unions want. It is to provide better data.

So rather than have a league table just of achievement, have a league table which compares schools in the same decile and which measures the average improvement in students from the time they enter – now that would be really useful.

Even better, do what they did in LA – rate teachers (I would remove names for privacy reasons but have them known to school boards) by their effectiveness at lifting student achievement. Because almost all the research tells us the quality of an individual teacher is what makes the biggest difference to learning.

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