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Understanding school responses to Progress 8 accountability measure


The research, commissioned by the DfE, looked at school leaders' understanding of the Progress 8 measure – what they felt to be the positives and negatives of the measure, and the changes they had introduced to implement it.

Key findings:        

  • The majority of interviewees (34 of 38) regarded their understanding of the Progress 8 measure to be 'good' or 'excellent'.
  • Generally, it was felt that Progress 8 was an improvement in terms of encouraging progress across all school cohorts and ability levels.
  • However, schools did not generally agree that Progress 8 was achieving the aim of a broad curriculum
  • Participants had some specific concerns that they felt need to be addressed to achieve a more accurate and reflective Progress 8 score:
    • Impact of outliers
    • Lack of contextualisation in the calculations
    • Narrowing of the curriculum 
    • First versus best entry
    • Subject-specific queries.
  • These issues created tension for many interviewees between the choices that needed to be made for the interests of an individual child and in the interests of a school’s Progress 8 score.
  • The main challenges that schools reported in preparing for and implementing Progress 8 were a lack of resources (e.g. staff shortages, financial constraints) and the number of curriculum/policy changes occurring at the same time.
  • There was a perceived need for more communications/guidance for schools in terms of details of the calculations, approved subjects/qualifications and explaining the new measure to staff members, governors and parents.

About the research:

  • Telephone interviews were undertaken with 38 individuals across 21 schools.
  • Twenty-five participants were senior school leaders (head teachers, deputy head teachers/vice principals), and 13 were middle leaders (heads of department, Data Managers).

The full research report can be found here.

While the research found participants’ overall understanding of Progress 8 was high, there were some points of misconceptions of the policy detail. As such, the DfE also released a briefing document that seeks to address any policy misconceptions found during the research and to clarify some of the finer details of the policy.  

This can be found here.

First published 30 November 2017