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School Rankings

by on May 29, 2011


First Published 29 May 2011 in The Graduate Times

The Gruijters brothers explain their controversial ideas for a new way of assessing schools based on the performance of their pupils.

As our previous articles have made clear, we are supporters of this coalition. It is a shame however, that this reformist government has got into a habit of U-turns and moderation. To be remembered in history this government has to do the opposite. It has to go further and faster in its reforms, especially with education.

The government has done a lot of good for education in a short space of time. It has created ‘free-schools’ funded by the tax-payer. Schools can choose who teaches, what they teach and how those who run the school are rewarded. Yet the incentives do not go far enough. The school should be rewarded for performance and should, like any viable business, be allowed to make a profit.
Secondary schools should be paid on performance and contrary to common belief performance is actually rather easy to measure. At the age of 11, prior to leaving primary school, all children should take a national exam – as many already do – but they should then be ranked according to their results. This process should be the same before children are to leave secondary school. Schools should then be paid a taxpayers fee according to their children’s change in performance ranking.

Say for example we have two children: Beth and George. At age 11, George is in the best 10% of the country and Beth in the best 80%. Then at leaving secondary school Beth is in the best 60% and George the best 15%. In this case Beth’s school has added more value to her and is paid more for her education than George’s school, which has been unable to sustain his achievements. Through this incentive those schools which increase their students’ performance in comparison to their peers will be rewarded for doing so.

An added advantage to this ranking, instead of stating an absolute grade, is that we have accurate statistics across generations of performance levels of schools and pupils. Like all Dutch children, British children will be able to compare their results with their parents’. This will also be a help to universities when they try and attract the best students. No longer will they need to weed out where there may be grade inflation, because all scores will be relative to each other. Moreover, when pupils are ranked, it will be easier to see which school is best for an individual child. The school that adds most value to a child with a similar pre-secondary school ranking to your child’s is the one to choose. Therefore the system can be used prescriptively by parents also.
All this, easily achieved through ranking instead of an absolute score for children’s exam performance.

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