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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.