Judge schools on five-year set of results, exam board suggests

The TES is reporting suggestions from an exam board that schools should be judged by their results over a period of at least five years rather than “condemned” on the basis of a single year’s performance…

Researchers at Cambridge Assessment believe that a study into the volatility of exam results could have wider implications on how schools are held to account in future.

The document states that teaching, exam reform and marking are often blamed when schools suffer “wild swings” in results. But researchers Tom Bramley and Tom Benton found that once the areas that impact the reliability of marking were removed, there was still “significant” volatility in the system…

The results of the study led Tim Oates, group director of assessment research and development at Cambridge Assessment, to suggest schools be judged by their results over a period of “at least” five years…

Mr Oates described the findings as “very important”, adding that the research “challenges many assumptions, with implications for the approach to accountability and for accountability measurements”.

The decision to conduct the research came after a report by the HMC elite group of independent schools found that “unexplained and very large vatiations” in grades were a “serious concern”…


So even when you eliminate the most likely causes – such as unreliable marking and changes to the exams – year-on-year volatility in individual schools remains. 

That being so, does the idea of judging schools on their 5 year record – as suggested – make more sense?

Please give us your thoughts and feedback…


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Categories: Secondary.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Better than current system of judging on last single set of results, or judge school on its whole provision is even better

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove If judgement has to be so data dependent this is better than judging on the last set of results only

  3. FlyMyGeekFlag

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Or perhaps go back to including CVA in judgements and league tables – tells a much bigger story.

  4. andylutwyche

    FlyMyGeekFlag SchoolsImprove Indeed – it’s all driven by the obsession over data and a balance need to be struck

  5. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove yes! But I can’t see gov going for it – they couldn’t make claims on improvement during term any longer…

  6. MidlandsSBM

    SchoolsImprove MelAinscow secondary schools are judged on 5 years’ performance – how they taught kids from y7 to y11 based on exam results

  7. @FlyMyGeekFlag andylutwyche SchoolsImprove The OECD (2011) said CVA was a step in right direction especially as there was too much emphasis on exam results in England.  So Gov’t dropped CVA.

  8. Judging schools on outcomes without reference to a school’s intake is flawed.  In any case, judging schools on outcomes is only one part of accountability.  There’s regulatory accountability – inspections, adhering to the Law.  Unfortunately, inspections in England are primarily data-driven and therefore unreliable.

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