Strategic data use of schools in accountability systems

Melanie C.M. Ehren, Machteld S.L. Swanborn

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


School inspections are expected to have an impact on data use and improvement of schools. Schools are expected to generate data (e.g., self-evaluation reports and student achievement results) as part of the inspection process. This process, in turn, also generates data (e.g., inspection reports) for school improvement. The high-stakes context in which both types of data are generated however has been known to lead to strategic responses of schools. In this study, we analyzed if schools cheat on tests and reshape their test pool in responses to the Dutch (risk-based) school inspections. We found that 5.5% of the schools do not to comply with the guidelines for administering the test; one third of the schools exclude one or more students from the test. These responses, however, do not appear to be related to specific measures in the Dutch school inspections or prior performance of schools on these measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-280
Number of pages24
JournalSchool Effectiveness and School Improvement
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • accountability
  • data-driven decision making
  • school inspections
  • strategic behaviour


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