Using value added feedback for accountability and school improvement purposes: evidence from China
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This paper examines the potential use of Value Added measures of school effectiveness and other related data for the purpose of informing and enhancing the impact of strategies to raise educational quality in China. In particular new approaches to accountability and school improvement are explored as a way of tackling poor school and student performance. Evidence is drawn from two recent DFID/ESRC funded projects: “Improving Educational Evaluation and Quality in China” and “Improving Teacher Development and Educational Quality in China”. Qualitative interviews with key stakeholders have been conducted and quantitative evidence of statistically significant differences in senior school effectiveness has been demonstrated in three eastern and western regions. The findings indicate that Value Added measures can provide a valid and relevant measure of educational quality in China, similar to the conclusions drawn from equivalent evidence in other countries such as UK. Moreover, the Value Added concept and measurement approach are seen as a more scientific and welcome addition to current methods of evaluating Chinese schools and teachers, although nevertheless it is essential to take account of local priorities and contexts in China when considering any new evaluation systems. The key question of whether Value Added measures of school effectiveness would be most useful or appropriate within a public accountability framework or as a means to enhance confidential feedback for school selfevaluation and improvement initiatives, or alternatively for both purposes is discussed. The challenges and barriers to introducing new accountability and school improvement measures and reforms in China is also discussed.