School Accountability Toolset
for equity and learning

Academic accountability and social justice
In performing academic accountability, two different academic outcome measures may be used:

the first is the school's average academic performance as this is indicated by pupils' marks in exams and
the second is the proportion of pupils in a school that score above a minimum level of performance (e.g. get a "pass", or "leaving certificate" etc) in curriculum subjects.

One can find schools that are focused more on pupils with good chances to get high marks, failing to cater for the needs of low attainers.

Other schools are focused more on helping all pupils perform above a minimum academic standard and choose to give priority to low attainers. One consequence is that the pupils with high academic ambitions don’t get the support they would expect.

Keeping a balance between pupils' average marks and the share of pupils with "pass" marks or above

Academic accountability requires that schools emphasise on improving the academic performance of all pupils irrespective of their prior attainment levels. This means that schools should strive to help weak students perform above a minimum academic standard set by educational authorities and in parallel support better attaining pupils perform even higher.

In the chart on the right, the average pupils' marks for School A and School B in Sweden are similar (around 202 points). However, using average school marks as the only measure of academic accountability would be hugely misleading.

School A is academically much more successful than School B because almost all of its pupils manage to perform above the minimum standard of performance set by the Swedish educational authorities. In contrast in School B almost half of its pupils are low attainers. This finding suggests that in this school pupils are divided between a high share of low achieving pupils and a small share of pupils with exceptional performance.

Average marks for all Swedish compulsory schools by share of pupils with "pass" marks or above Photo by AltCity Media/Tech Collab Space. See

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© 2014 EPNoSL Project