Monitoring School Performance: A Guide for Educators

By J. Douglas Willms | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Introduction

Educators and administrators have dramatically increased their efforts to collect data describing the performance of their educational systems. Many countries are establishing programs to collect 'indicators' of school quality for monitoring performance at national, regional, and local levels. The quest for more and better data is widespread. Nearly every country in Europe is developing a monitoring system based on performance indicators. The UK Government established a national curriculum of core and foundation subjects, and mounted an ambitious testing program to assess pupils' attainment of the curricular objectives. The US Department of Education, through its Center for Education Statistics, collects a variety of indicators describing the 'health' of the elementary and secondary schooling systems. From these data, it publishes the Secretary of Education's 'wall chart', which includes state-by-state comparisons for a number of performance indicators (Smith, 1988). Currently the National Governors' Association Panel to Monitor the National Education Goals is developing a 'national report card' for monitoring progress towards the national educational goals recently established by President Bush and the Governors (Lewis, 1991; Pipho, 1991). Most states have established monitoring systems based on performance indicators (Selden, 1988), and many school districts are following their lead.

An 'indicator' is simply a statistic describing some feature of the schooling system associated with its performance, such as the average test score of a school, the proportion of drop-outs, or the pupil-teacher ratio. Like most statistics, an indicator derives its meaning from its trend over time, from its variation within a sample, or from comparison to some standard. The standard can be the average value for a set of schools, a predefined goal, or a socially determined standard (Oakes, 1986; Shavelson, McDonnell, Oakes, Carey and Picus, 1987).

The collection of performance indicators is not a new phenomenon. There is a long history of using national data to monitor long-term trends in educational performance; to examine inequalities in attainment between racial, ethnic, and social-class groups; to make inter-regional comparisons; and to assess the impact of major educational reforms (Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accounts, 1986; Koretz, 1986; McPherson and Willms, 1987; Murnane, 1987; Powell and Steelman, 1984; Stern, 1986; Welch, 1987).

-1-

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Monitoring School Performance: A Guide for Educators
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables and Figures viii
  • Preface x
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Social and Political Context of Monitoring Systems 12
  • Chapter 3 - Monitoring Systems and the Input-Output Model 28
  • Chapter 4 - The Estimation of School Effects 38
  • Chapter 5 - Measuring Pupil Inputs 50
  • Chapter 6 - Schooling Processes 64
  • Chapter 7 - Schooling Outcomes 82
  • Chapter 8 - Design of a Monitoring System 91
  • Chapter 9 - Analyses for an Annual Report 103
  • Chapter 10 - A Research Program 120
  • Chapter 11 - Conclusions 143
  • Technical Appendix 157
  • References 163
  • Index 175
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