Assessing pupil and school performance by non-parametric and parametric techniques

Research output: Preprint or Working paperWorking paper


Often observations are nested within other units. This is particularly the case in the educational sector where school performance in terms of value added is the result of school contribution as well as pupil academic ability and other features relating to the pupil. Traditionally, the literature uses parametric (i.e. it assumes a priori a particular function on the production process) Multi-Level Models to estimate the performance of nested entities. This paper discusses the use of the non-parametric (i.e. without a priori assumptions on the production process) Free Disposal Hull model as an alternative approach. While taking into account contextual characteristics as well as atypical observations, we show how to decompose non-parametrically the overall inefficiency of a pupil into a unit specific and a higher level (i.e. a school) component. By a sample of entry and exit attainments of 3017 girls in British ordinary single sex schools, we test the robustness of the non-parametric and parametric estimates. We find that the two methods agree in the relative measures of the scope for potential attainment improvement. Further, the two methods agree on the variation in pupil attainment and the proportion attributable to pupil and school level.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham (UK)
PublisherAston University
ISBN (Print)978-1-85449-748-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

Publication series

NameAston Business School research papers
PublisherAston University


  • performance measurement
  • free disposal hull
  • multilevel modelling
  • secondary education


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