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Size, Performance and Effectiveness: Cost-Constrained Measures of Best-Practice Performance and Secondary-School Size

Richard Barnett, J. Colin Glass, Roger Snowdon and Karl Stringer

Education Economics, 2002, vol. 10, issue 3, 291-311

Abstract: Current education policy in the UK requires secondary schools to strive for 'effectiveness' or 'best-practice' performance in producing educational outcomes, while securing cost efficiency in input use when doing so. Given this double policy objective, the present study uses data envelopment analysis to generate performance scores for schools relative to cost-constrained best-practice benchmarks that simultaneously take account of both outcome effectiveness and cost efficiency. The empirical results, relating to the set of Northern Ireland secondary schools, indicate that a positive relationship between effectiveness-efficiency performance scores and secondary school size holds across a range of educational outcomes. Larger schools were still found to outperform smaller ones, on average, when schools were grouped according to gender, school type, and absence/presence of a sixth form. The findings imply that it is inappropriate to assess the performance of schools without taking into account the impact of school size on such performance.

Date: 2002
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DOI: 10.1080/09645290210127516

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