Sunday, 15 March 2009

Report cards in the balance

John Dunford, the thoughtful leader of the Association of School and College Leaders, has given a measured account of the potential benefits of the Government's planned report cards for schools, at his association's annual conference.

But the ASCL has unanimously rejected the idea of grading schools on an A-E scale. However, without a simple scale with which parents can compare schools, the report cards are in danger of confusing rather than assisting with accountability.

This is not to say that report cards are without problems. Unless there is reasonable alignment between grades, minimum test and exam scores, and Ofsted inspections (which may only take place every six years) the cards could become an excuse for poor performance. Of course, a measure of progress is also important, but so are absolute results too. So, in developing the idea, it is not only important that the Government has a straightforward way of rating schools, it is equally important that schools are not able to pick and choose different ratings.

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