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Tuesday 22-Mar-2016
Keeping it real

VALUE-ADDED DATA undoubtedly has its uses but we must not forget about visiting schools and measuring their capacities in other ways.

As independent schools rarely take SATS, they have to focus on value added at GCSE, A level and IB level. However, my correspondence with Chris Townsend, headmaster of Felsted School, has underlined the potential of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring's value-added data to compare participating schools.

Two tests that can provide a medium from which value-added scores can be calculated are the Common Admission Test and Middle Years Information System, or MidYIS.

CAT determines a student's ability to reason with and manipulate different types of material.
MidYIS, which is written and administered by the center, seeks to ascertain a pupil's underlying potential for future academic achievement, and their strengths and weaknesses across four vital cognitive sub-scales, including vocabulary, maths and non-verbal ability.

Value-added data is useful as it shows which schools have made a difference to their pupils' performance - as opposed to those that simply select the most academically gifted pupils for admission.

However, it can be very difficult to add value to the predicted grades of the ablest cohort, so some highly selective schools will not score highly, despite doing some excellent work with pupils.

On the contrary, weaker students may find it difficult to achieve solid value-added scores. Indeed, Townsend admits value-added data can be "warped by the level of the individual student."

According to Townsend, another possible downside to value-added data may be that high-performing selective schools may find their treasured position near the top of the academic raw scores league tables "taken away from them by this measure, so there must be a degree of anxiety that a value-added league table would look very different to a raw scores league table."

The Felsted head also pointed out that "value added" may be too much of an academic term - stressing that "much of the value that independent schools add is based upon extracurricular and supercurricular experiences."

I would dearly like to present value- added data to Hong Kong parents - but we should not forget, as Townsend said, "the best measure of any school remains going to see it in action, or seeking testimony from people who have been at the school."

Are the schools, in his words, "producing successful, happy human beings, who contribute positively to the world in which they live?"

Samuel Chan is a director at Britannia StudyLink

Tuesday, 22 March, 2016 

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Education Experts

Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.


Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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