Good School, Bad School: Evaluating Performance and Encouraging Improvement

Good School, Bad School: Evaluating Performance and Encouraging Improvement

Good School, Bad School: Evaluating Performance and Encouraging Improvement

Good School, Bad School: Evaluating Performance and Encouraging Improvement

Synopsis

• How can one tell a 'good' school from a 'bad' one?

• How should schools be judged?

• How best might they be improved?

Questions about the quality of schooling have dominated the political agenda for much of the past decade. As a direct result new policies have been introduced involving more performance indicators, league tables of exam results, more frequent inspection and the closure of 'failing' schools.

Studies of school effectiveness and school improvement have much to contribute to these questions. Drawing on the latest research, John Gray and Brian Wilcox take a fresh and critical look at some of the reforms. How can one ensure that a broader view of what education is about is retained in the face of narrow performance indicators? What contribution can value-added approaches make to ensuring that schools in disadvantaged areas are judged more fairly? How sound are inspection procedures? What happens after a school has been inspected? How much do schools actually improve over time? And what prospects are there for turning round 'failing' schools rather than simply closing them?

Excerpt

Interest amongst policy-makers, the public and researchers in the quality, effectiveness and improvement of schools continues to grow. How is this interest — obsession even — to be explained?

School reputations

The character of schools has always, of course, been of interest to the discerning parent. Parents often talk to others about the merits of local schools, particularly at those crucial times when their offspring are about to start formal education or to transfer from one stage of schooling to another. Schools sometimes acquire 'reputations' for being 'good' or 'bad' in general or specific terms. The keen interest shown in such reputations indicates that parents firmly believe that schools can confer advantages or disadvantages on those who attend them. In other words, parents are generally of the view that schools can have effects for good or ill. Choice of school matters.

In the days of selective education, despite the rhetoric of 'parity of esteem', the public generally regarded grammar schools as 'better'

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