Determinants of school performance: Resources, pedagogy, workforce and peers
The extent to which changes in school expenditure matter for educational outcomes is a source of much controversy. CEP research shows that increases in school expenditure cause improved educational outcomes in England and that effects are stronger in schools with a disadvantaged intake.
Nevertheless, how school expenditure is used is critical, in terms of the impact on student attainment. For example, we show that large changes in ICT investment had a positive impact on pupil performance in primary schools.
Changes to teaching practice such as the "literacy hour" introduced in the late 1990s and "synthetic phonics" widely applied in English schools in the mid-2000s were very important and cost effective initiatives that improved student learning. The latter had a medium-term effect on those groups of students who tend to struggle with literacy and reduced educational inequality between students from different backgrounds, even where this was not an explicit aim.
Randomised control trials have enabled us to distinguish what works and what doesn't. For example, targeting how teaching assistants are used is more effective in driving up student attainment than teacher peer-to-peer observation and feedback programmes. Banning the use of mobile phones in schools is also effective for raising student achievement.
The effectiveness of different teaching techniques and set ups is mediated by other factors such as ability composition of classrooms, teacher turnover and peer effects. Although we find average peer effects to be small or negligible, and having higher-achieving peers makes little difference to performance, having lower-achieving peers matters disproportionately.
But peer groups often have no effect: in the case of one particular group – the arrival of significant numbers of non-native English speakers in English primary schools following the East European enlargement of the EU – we find, contrary to common expectation, that there is no impact on the school performance of native English speakers studying alongside them. Perceptions of peers can matter however: we found that a pupil's perception of peers ranked above them can have a depressing effect on confidence and academic performance.
New Technology in Schools: Is There a Payoff?
Despite its high relevance to current policy debates, Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally and Olmo Silva find estimating the causal effect of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) investment on educational standards remains fraught with difficulties. Read more...
Does Additional Spending Help Urban Schools? An Evaluation Using Boundary Discontinuities
This study by Steve Gibbons, Sandra McNally and Martina Viarengo exploits the spatial anomalies in school funding policy in England to provide new evidence on the impact of resources on student achievement in urban areas. Read more...
Determinants of school performance: Resources, pedagogy, workforce and peers publications
Helen Johnson, Sandra McNally, Heather Rolfe, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela, Robert Savage, Janet Vousden and Clare Wood
1 June 2019
Steve Gibbons, Sandra McNally and Martina Viarengo
1 October 2018
Stephen Gibbons, Sandra McNally and Martina Viarengo
1 October 2018
Esteban M. Aucejo, Patrick Coate, Jane Cooley Fruehwirth, Sean Kelly and Zachary Mozenter
24 September 2018
Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally and Martina Viarengo
1 May 2018
Steve Gibbons and Shqiponja Telhaj
1 August 2016
Nina Guyon, Eric Maurin and Sandra McNally
1 June 2012
Victor Lavy, Olmo Silva and Felix Weinhardt
1 April 2012
Stephen Machin and Sandra McNally
1 June 2008
Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally and Olmo Silva
1 July 2007