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GSoE research focusing on value-added measures of school performance and supported by ESRC GCRF funding is spreading to Chile

6 July 2017

Dr Bernardita Munoz-Chereau is a ESRC GCRF Postdoctoral fellow member of the Centre for Assessment and Evaluation Research in Education (CAERe) working with Prof. Sally Thomas and George Leckie at the GSoE. This £1.5 billion fund was awarded in 2016 to 30 early careers researchers whose cutting-edge research addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Bernardita’s project “Levelling the playing field: assessing through equity the quality of Chilean schools” addresses the sustainable development goal of improving the quality of education by applying an equity lens when assessing students’ performance using value-added models.

This research is timely given that in recent years Chile has introduced new school accountability mechanisms. Currently the Education Quality Agency (EQA) –a local version of OFSTED – is classifying schools in four performance groups (good, satisfactory, fair and poor) based on school SIMCE assessment results and other data, and implementing high-stakes consequences on the basis of this classification (ranging from organisational interventions up to school closure) for those schools that do not meet the required standards.

Paradigmatically, the new high-stake national school accountability system does not use value-added measures to take proper account of Chilean extremely unequal educational field. Developing approaches that take into account these inequalities when assessing school performance, remains one of the main challenges of the assessment of the quality of Chilean educational system in specific, and other DAC listed countries in the region in general where raw or status ‘league tables’ are a common practice. In this scenario, Bernardita’s research plays a key role as it provides an alternative to examine school performance in context. It also develops value-added models using Chilean primary and secondary schools’ data, and uses those results to identify schools’ practices associated with better performance. In an interview with her collaborators LIDERES EDUCATIVOS, a joint venture between P. Catholic University of Valparaíso, University of Chile, University of Concepción, Chile Foundation, and OISE-University of Toronto aiming to support educational leadership capacities, she argued that “in the absence of value-added indicators the new accountability system tends to punish schools working in privileged backgrounds and punish schools working in vulnerable contexts, maintaining the status-quo through complacency and hopelessness”.

During recent fieldwork in Chile Bernardita worked with local policymakers, particularly at the Ministry of Education and the EQA supporting government’s thinking around innovative school accountability and school improvement methods to account for inequality when assessing school performance. The dissemination of her research will deliver new insights into the quality of Chilean schools, increase local awareness that different value-added indicators are needed to assess the quality of schools, and provide methodological tools coupled with evidence-based descriptions of effective schools.

For more information, visit the CAERe blog webpage. 

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