Performance rankings in education: Implications for policy and practice
Njiru, Samson M.
Nyaga, Milcah Njoki
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In recent decades, school performance ranking (or ‘league table’) have become a common feature of many education systems in the world. The ranking is usually published by government and news agencies in an attempt to measure and compare the relative performance of individual schools against a number of criteria, including academic performance. This paper reports parts of larger case study that set out to investigate teachers’ and students’ perceptions of performance ranking in secondary schools in Kenya. The study participants were teachers and students of Mathematics drawn from secondary schools in Embu County in Kenya. Data were gathered through one-on-one semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and surveys. The transcriptions of the audio-recorded interviews and focus group discussions were analyzed by first reading the texts of the transcriptions holistically, followed by the development of codes, organizing the codes into larger categories and, finally, organizing the categories into overarching themes. This paper, in particular, examines the research findings through the lens of the existing literature on school performance rankings. The paper demonstrates how school performance rankings in Kenya have been abused over the years to the detriment of quality teaching and learning. Finally, the paper highlights the implications of school performance ranking for policy and practice.