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Test Score or Student Progress? A Value-Added Evaluation of School Effectiveness in Urban China

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image of Frontiers of Education in China

Outcome-oriented evaluation of school effectiveness is often based on student test scores in certain critical examinations. This study provides another method of evaluation—value-added—which is based on student achievement progress. This paper introduces the method of estimating the value-added score of schools in multi-level models. Based on longitudinal student achievement data, two measures of school effectiveness in one local education authority in China are compared. It is found that the between-school difference in both test-score and value-added is large comparable with that of Western countries. The results of the two measures of school effectiveness are highly different. The value-added measures lack consistency across different subject areas within schools while the test score measures are highly correlated between subjects. Teachers show their preference for value-added measures over test-score measures of education quality. It is suggested that value-added measures of school effectiveness should be used as a complement to rather than a substitute for test-score measures. The shortcomings of value-added approach are also discussed.


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