Monitoring School Performance: A Guide for Educators

By J. Douglas Willms | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Monitoring Systems and the Input-Output Model

Monitoring systems are based on a theory about how schooling 'inputs' cause schooling 'outputs'. The theory presumes that pupil outcomes are largely determined by family influences and pupils' experiences at school, and that the latter are shaped by the organizational structure and practices of the classroom, school, and school district. Researchers have conducted a number of large studies to explore the relationship between schooling inputs, such as pupil, teacher, and school resources, and schooling outputs, such as pupils' examination results and their overall examination attainment. The goal of the research was to determine the effects of various teacher and school factors on pupil outcomes by controlling statistically for pupils' entry-level ability and for factors associated with their family background. In general the findings have been contradictory and suggest weak organizational effects (e.g., Bridge, Judd, and Moock, 1979; Glasman and Biniaminov, 1981; Murnane, 1981; Rutter, 1983).

Researchers have found it difficult to determine the effects of teacher and school factors on schooling outcomes because many policies and practices do not vary much across schools, and because schools that are advantaged in some respects tend to be disadvantaged in others. For example, class size may be an important determinant of academic achievement, but in most schooling systems average class size does not vary substantially across schools. In systems where there is sufficient variation, schools with small class sizes tend to be advantaged also in terms of the experience and training of their teachers (e.g., Rumberger and Willms, 1991). Although it may be easy to show that schools with small class sizes have superior academic achievement it is difficult to discern whether it is class size or teacher characteristics causing the desired effect. Another difficulty is that the variation between schools in their outcomes is usually small compared with the variation within schools (Gray, 1988). Even though a school or teacher variable may have an important effect on schooling outcomes, its effect may be small compared with the effects of all of the other factors influencing pupil outcomes.

Research based on the 'input-output' model attempted to overcome these difficulties, but its success was limited for several reasons. One is that it failed to specify how policies and practices at one level of the system influence events taking place at other levels (Barr and Dreeben, 1983; Meyer, 1980).

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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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