Friday, December 18, 2015

How do rankings help in improving school accountability and raising standards!

Concern about the poor quality of school education has increased in the recent past, as a number of tests of learning achievement by government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the private sector have made visible the low cognitive skills among Indian children.

India is increasingly moving towards more evidence-based education policy making, which is why it has invested in the District Information System on Education (DISE) for elementary schools, and more recently in the Secondary Education Management Information System (SEMIS) for secondary schools—which are collectively called the Universal DISE or uDISE. However, these data systems fall short of collecting and presenting information on student performance in externally assessed examinations; for example, SEMIS does not capture the board examination results of schools. Moreover, neither the national exam boards (CBSE and ICSE) nor the state exam boards make public the exam results aggregated for each school.

An article from the Contemporary Education Dialogue suggests how school rankings within a city can enable parents to see how different schools perform within their own locality in the city, thus helping them to make informed school choices. Academic performance-based rankings in different subjects can also help a school to see the subject-wise performance of its students vis- à-vis the students of other schools, thus enabling a principal to strengthen the teaching of those subjects in which its ranked position is significantly lower than in other subjects.

While some teacher unions have tended to oppose school rankings, this article shows that the governments of many countries have nevertheless chosen to persist with publishing school rankings and have refined the rankings by using ‘value-added’ measures of achievement—in the belief that throwing this information open to the public increases the school competition and enhances the teacher effort and accountability via parental information, choice and scrutiny.

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