Last updated: February 7, 2013 10:40 am

The problem with education statistics

Education secretary Michael Gove is set to announce changes to how school league tables are constructed.

At the moment, schools are ranked by what proportion of their students get Cs in GCSE English, maths and three other subjects. It will be replaced by two new measures.

The first part of the measure will assess the proportion of children attaining a C or better in English and maths. The second metric will be a value-added score, which will record how far children have progressed in eight subjects between the ages of 11 and 16.

For the past two years, the Financial Times has had exclusive access to the National Pupil Database, which provides anonymous exam performance data for every individual secondary school pupil in England.

Using this detailed data, we have compiled an alternative set of statistics to the traditional measures, which are now set to be reassessed.

This approach can be used to explore the difference in exam attainment between pupils from different demographic groups, schools in different geographic regions, the impact of academy chains and grammar schools, and the improvement of London’s schools.

This audio explainer shows how this was done and the significance for the education system of different forms of performance measures.

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