Identifying the true characteristics of high-performing and low-performing primary schools

Challenge

The National Agency for Quality and Supervision (STUK) promotes quality development of education in the area of the Ministry of Education, supervises the quality of the educational programmes and supports effective institutional operations. By incorporating new knowledge and up-to-date data, STUK supports the ongoing implementation of reforms. The purpose of the project is to identify the characteristics of high and low-performing schools. The analysis will identify the characteristics of schools that have, to a high and low degree, respectively 1) implemented the elements of the reform and 2) elevated their students academically and secured a high level of well-being after the reform.

Approach

On the basis of all available survey data for the evaluation of the primary school reform among pupils, teachers, principals and others from the period of 2014–2018, Epinion conducted a comprehensive statistical analysis with the following elements: 1) imputation of missing values (multiple imputation), 2) using machine learning to identify the variables that have the greatest correlation with the dependent conditions that characterise high and low-performing schools (professional progression, well-being and implementation of selected reform elements), 3) robustness analysis, 4) modelling of correlation between selected independent variables and professional progression and well-being, 5) cluster analysis for the identification of high- and low-performing schools.

Resolution

The project uses new methods to analyse existing data and thus provides a new perspective on the dynamics within the Danish school system in terms of identifying and describing schools with either high or low performance. The results will serve as evidence-based input to the content of the dialogue tool. The tool is used by the Ministry of Education in dialogue with primary schools about their challenges, opportunities and strategic goals. Moreover, based on the results Epinion will recommend a new and improved set of school performance indicators. The indicators will help the Ministry to more easily identify school characteristics important to well-being, academic performance and implementation fidelity.

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