Reports 2020/30

What characterizes schools and counties that contribute more, or less than expected to pupils' learning?

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Since 2019, value-added indicators for lower and upper secondary schools have been made publicly available by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training in Skoleporten. Such indicators estimate whether the actual result of a school (e.g. average mark) is higher or lower than expected given the pupil composition in the school compared to the country as a whole. In this report, we examine what characterizes lower and upper secondary schools and municipalities with a consistently high/low value added. Several characteristics have a statistically significant correlation with consistently high/low value added, but these correlations are often weak and vary between school and community level.

Overall, at upper primary and lower secondary level, the bivariate analyses show that the probability of being a school with a high value-added increases with its size, pupil/teacher ratio and share of pupils with highly educated parents.

For upper primary level, combined primary and lower secondary schools have a higher probability of being in the consistent high value-added group compared to primary schools. Moreover, the probability increases with the share of pupils with additional training in Norwegian. Some correlations are only present as long as Oslo is included in the analyses: Positive correlations with number of instruction hours above the minimum requirements and hours spent on physical activity and homework assistance. Negative correlations with increasing teacher stability and share of teachers aged 40+.

For the lower secondary level, the share of teachers meeting formal qualification requirements and teacher stability are positively related to having a consistent high value-added. Pupils’ experience of well-being, teacher support, academic challenge, culture for learning, feeling of accomplishment and motivation have a positive correlation, too.

In lower secondary education, the probability of being a municipality contributing more than expected is positively related to its centrality, the pupil/teacher ratio, the share of pupils having parents with higher education and the pupils’ feeling of accomplishment.

At upper secondary school level, there are three types of value-added indicators. Both in general and vocational programs the size of the school and share of pupils with migration background are negatively related to the probability of contributing more than expected to keep the pupils from dropping out. The probability for contributing more than expected to completion rates increases with pupils’ experience of well-being, teacher support, feeling of accomplishment and motivation. It decreases with size of the school median daily and weekly absence, the share of pupils with migration background and the share of pupils with parents having higher education. Moreover, the probability of contributing more than expected to pupils’ academic progress increases if the school is in Oslo and with the share of teachers with more than four years of higher education, including pedagogy.

Our analyses underline that understanding why some schools have a consistent high or low value added cannot be reduced to a few measurable decisive characteristics. In addition to the characteristics we have looked at, other factors are potentially important, as well. These include factors that to a lesser degree can be captured by existing data and quantitative approaches, and this points to the benefit of further research/analyses combining different methods and types of data.

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