DfE ‘recognises’ Progress 8 can drive ‘perverse incentives’

The Department for Education has admitted it “recognises” that its progress 8 performance measure can drive perverse incentives for schools with challenging intakes.

The government has today published its response to the education select committee’s ‘Forgotten Children’ report.

One of the report’s findings was that the government’s “strong focus” on standards has resulted in practices where disadvantaged children are disproportionately excluded.

The committee recommended changing the weighting of progress 8, which would take account of outliers and incentivise inclusivity.

In its response published today, the government stated they recognise “that no measure is perfect”, and said it can “drive perverse incentives in the system in the absence of a counterbalance incentivising schools not to exclude pupils”.

“This can be particularly true for schools with challenging intakes.”

But the DfE said it is taking action – including limiting the impact a small number of pupils with extremely negative progress scores can have on a school’s results.

However a blog by Education Datalab yesterday found this didn’t make a huge difference to the vast majority of schools

The government also said it is considering issues around ‘pupil-mobility’ and exploring options “to incentivise inclusivity in school performance measures”.

This follows Ofsted backing such a measure earlier this week. Education secretary Damian Hinds said today he is considering legislation to make schools more accountable for the children they place in alternative provision.

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  1. Progress 8 also disadvantages schools with a large proportion of previously low-achieving pupils and few previously high-achieving ones. This is borne out by DfE analysis of provisional 2018 GCSE data:

    ‘Non-selective schools in highly selective areas have the lowest attainment of the three groups [*], with an’average Attainment 8 score of 42.1, and a Progress 8 score of -0.13, which was statistically significantly’below the national average.’

    *The three groups are selective schools, non-selective schools in highly selective areas and all other non-selective schools.