Early childhood and schools

Measuring Improvements in Learning Outcomes: Best Practices to Assess the Value-Added of Schools


Introduction | Table of contents
How to obtain this publication | Additional material

ISBN: 9789264050228
Publication: 25/11/2008


Measuring Improvements in Learning Outcomes: Best Practices to Assess the Value-Added of Schools

How can school performance be measured accurately to improve learning outcomes? "Measuring Improvements in Learning Outcomes” proposes a value-added model of measuring which provides a more fair, precise and quantitative tool for assessing students’ progress. Unlike some league tables which rely on raw test scores, value-added modelling measures what students have learnt while in school by monitoring their performance at two or more points in time. It also overcomes many of the problems plaguing other models which can be biased against schools with socio-economically disadvantaged students. The report sets out three broad objectives for using value-added modelling:

  • school improvement initiatives, to better develop specific programmes.
  • school accountability, to enable fairer and more accurate evaluations of performance to ensure resources are being used efficiently.
  • school choice, by providing parents and families with information on the performance of different schools.

 The cost of education in OECD countries rose by an average of 39 per cent between 1995 and 2004. If outcomes are to improve, accurate measures of performance are essential. This OECD report emphasises the benefits of using value-added modelling and, importantly for policymakers, discusses a number of implementation strategies available to governments.

This report is divided into three parts:

  • Part I: Objectives and use of value-added modelling, including examples from schools in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the USA.
  • Part II: Technical aspects of value added modelling, with comparative tables from OECD countries.
  • Part III: Implementation of value added modelling, providing guidance for policy makers and administrations on how to implement a system that best meets their needs.


With education systems in all OECD countries coming under increasing pressure to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency, there is a growing recognition of the need for accurate school performance measures. Assessments of student performance are now common in many OECD countries, and the results are often widely reported and used in public debate as well as for school improvement purposes. There are diverging views on how results from evaluation and assessment can and should be used. Some see them primarily as tools to reveal best practices and identify shared problems in order to encourage teachers and schools to improve and develop more supportive and productive learning environments. Others extend their purpose to support contestability of public services or market-mechanisms in the allocation of resources, e.g. by making comparative results of schools publicly available to facilitate parental choice or by having funds following students. Regardless of the objectives of measuring school performance it is important that they truly reflect the contributions which individual schools make rather than merely or partly the different socio-economic conditions under which teachers teach and schools operate. If this is not the case, resources can be misallocated and perverse incentives created if, for example, schools can receive a higher performance measure through academic selection or through selecting students from privileged socioeconomic backgrounds, rather than improving outcomes through investment in better instructional methods.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • Value-Added Modelling: A Definition
  • Format of this Report

Part I. Objectives and Use of Value-Added Modelling

  • Chapter 1. Policy Objectives of the Development of a System of Value-Added Modelling
  • Chapter 2. Presentation and Interpretation of Value-Added Models
  • Chapter 3. Application of Value-Added Models for Internal School Improvement
  • Annex: Implementation of a System of Value-Added Modelling; Key Steps in the Implementation Phase

Part II. The Design of Value-Added Models

  • Chapter 4. Design Considerations
  • Chapter 5. Illustrative Value-Added Models
  • Chapter 6. Model Choice: Statistical and Methodological Issues

Part III. Implementation of a System of Value-Added Modelling

  • Chapter 7. Setting Policy Objectives and Choosing the Appropriate Value-Added Model
  • Chapter 8. Further Development and Use of Value-Added Modelling
  • Bibliography

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