The Component Measures: using the dials to change them and some descriptions of their effect.
Our National Single Indicator is made up of four well-recognised measures of school performance. To begin with we have given them equal, neutral weight. However, it has long been a matter of debate how important they are relative to one another – and indeed their importance may well depend on external circumstances or even personal taste.
The first thing to note, then, is that changing their relative importance may change the National Single Indicator and how the school you are looking at compares with others.
In other words, your view of these measures’ importance might affect how several schools you are considering stack up against one another!
The second thing to note is that there are two representations of the National Single Indicator. The first, “headline” method uses a letter, from ‘A’ to ‘E’, where ‘A’ is best. The second representation uses five stars, where five stars are best. The thing to remember is that where the letter can only change from one to the next (for example ‘B’ to ‘A’, or ‘C’ to ‘D’) the stars are more finely graduated (each one is divided into quarters) so the effect of your changes will be more apparent.
Not every change will have an effect on the National Single Indicator. Some schools’ scores will not be sensitive to the changes you make, for example if they are in the middle of their range: scores closer to the boundaries are often more likely to be affected.
The Component Measures:
The value-added measure provides an indication of the contribution a school makes to the progress of its pupils by adjusting for the impact of non-school influences on their attainment (as measured by their previous performance).
5 or more A*- C grades at GCSE
A nationally recognised indicator showing the percentage of pupils in a school getting 5 or more so-called “good” passes at GCSE level.
Average point score
- The KS2 Average Point represents the average attainment of a school’s KS2 pupils in reading, writing and maths, regardless of whether they are achieving expected results.
- The KS4 Average Point Score represents the average attainment of a school’s KS4 pupils in their best 8 GCSEs, regardless of whether they are achieving expected results.
This is perhaps the broadest, but also the coarsest measure.
- At KS2, this measures the percentage of pupils making the expected progress from KS1 in reading, writing and maths.
- At KS4, this measures the percentage of pupils making the expected progress from KS2 in GCSE English and Maths.
Using the dials
These measures record several different factors that all contribute to how well a school can be considered to be performing. Some parents – and other commentators – place different emphases on them. Our innovation is to allow for this, using our dials:
The first thing to remember is that the dials provide five intervals, ranging from 0 to 4. One way of looking at this is to think of them as describing how much importance you place on each individual measure, as follows
0 = unimportant (effectively “switched off”)
1 = less important
2 = neutral
3 = more important
4 = most important
There are various ways to change the values.
If you are using a mouse you can click on the dial at various points and the blue indicator will jump to the closest interval. (N.B. if you imagine a clock face ‘0’ is at 7 o’ clock, ‘1’ is at 9 o’ clock, ‘2’ – the default position – is at 12 o’ clock, ‘3’ is at 3 o’ clock and ‘4’ is at 5 o’ clock.)
If your mouse has a scroll-wheel, hover the cursor over the dial representing the measure you want to change and roll the scroll-wheel back and forth to decrease or increase the values.
If you are using a touch screen you can simply touch the dial at your chosen value.
Oh, and remember, you are changing their relative values; if you simply change all the dials to the same number, albeit different from the default, you’re back where you started because you’ve given them EQUAL value again!
What your choices mean: two “use cases”
We hope that the mechanics are easy enough. But what do these changes mean – in the real world? Here are a couple of ways of thinking about this (we’ve simplified the examples to try to get the point across):
Inner City Excellence
Inner cities are often characterised by a number of factors. Unfortunately socio-economic deprivation is one of them. And one of the consequences of this can be potential low attainment from children affected by it. In these circumstances it might be worth considering how the “value added” measure comes into play.
Remember that this is a measure of how effectively a school has “propelled” its pupils forward with respect to their previous levels of attainment. To be a bit more detailed, The Department for Education reckons that a VA score of 100 at Key Stage 2, or 1000 at Key Stage 4 (don’t ask!) means that the pupils in a school have achieved their expected outcomes, based on where they were when they joined. A lower score means that the have effectively underachieved, a higher score means they have gone the extra mile. One conjecture might therefore be that in an area where socio-economic factors could be considered a “drag” on performance, a school’s ability to add value to their pupils’ education – to propel them further – should be considered as a key performance factor.
The Leafy Suburbs
Once more our example rests on its simplicity to make the point; real life is rarely so straightforward!
The phrase ‘leafy suburbs’ is often used as shorthand to describe places of relative affluence, where social aspirations and socio-economic circumstances converge to favour academic success. While by no means unimportant, “value added” measures may be considered relatively less so given the propensity for a higher threshold of prior achievement. If you accept this point of view, whilst you might not want to diminish the importance of the value added measure, raw measures of performance like “good” GCSE passes (the 5 A* to C measure) or the average point score might be deemed relatively more important when comparing schools.
These are just two, very generic, ways of considering how these measures might apply in different circumstances. We would be very interested to hear your views, examples and other ways that the measures might be weighted to provide the best value and most meaning in other situations.