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Evaluation of High School Performance: A

Data Envelopment Analysis Approach


Maragos, E.K. and Despotis, D.K.

University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece


emar@unipi.gr, despotis@unipi.gr

Abstract
In the context of the quantitative approach to the evaluation of educational
units there is a growing interest in discovering the factors that affect the per-
formance of a school. The data envelopment analysis (DEA) methodology pro-
vides an effective framework for evaluating the efficiency of educational units,
such as the secondary schools, in the presence of multiple inputs and out-
puts. In this paper we evaluate the performance of high schools through DEA.
The data concern high schools in the Greater Athens Area (GAA), Greece for
the academic year 2000-2001. The 59 municipalities of GAA are clustered on
the basis of socio-economic factors. The analysis results show that schools in
non-privileged areas tend to be more efficient in comparison to the schools in
privileged areas.
Keywords: Data envelopment analysis, school evaluation.

1. Introduction
Although the development of evaluation schemes for educational units is dated back
to the ’50s, the quantitative approach to school evaluation has been established in
the past two decades [2]. The main issue in school evaluation is the definition of
the factors that reflect the performance of the school. A current approach to school
evaluation considers schools as production units that use multiple inputs (recourses)
and produce multiple outputs. In such a setting, the definition and measurement
of the inputs and the outputs that reflect the operation of a school for evaluation
purposes is not an easy task. A commonly accepted measure of a well-performing
school is based on the records of its students in the national matriculation exami-
nations [8]. Among the other factors that are considered in the school evaluation
literature are the class size and the number of students per teacher. The effect
of the social environment of the school in its performance is also investigated and
various measurements of that effect are incorporated in the evaluation models [4],
[5], [9]. Due to the unknown nature of the educational production function [6],
there are two approaches usually applied in school evaluation: the stochastic fron-
tiers methods [7], and data envelopment analysis (DEA) [3]. The latter determines

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the production possibility frontier non-parametrically and, hence, it evaluates the
technical efficiency of schools.
In this paper we evaluate the relative efficiency of high schools in the Greater Athens
Area (GAA), Greece. Intra-school as well as external non-schooling factors are
taken into account in the proposed evaluation model. External factors reflecting the
socio-economic environment of the school are considered to influence the students’
effectiveness and therefore affect the school’s efficiency. The evaluation model is
based on the variable returns-to-scale (VRS) DEA model [1], as full proportionality
in input-output measurements cannot be supported in an educational context [5].
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 describes the VRS DEA
model. Section 3 describes the problem setting. The results of the analysis are
given in section 4. The paper ends with a conclusion.

2. The VRS DEA model


Data Envelopment Analysis [1], [3] is the leading technique for measuring the rela-
tive efficiency of decision-making units on the basis of multiple inputs and outputs.
The efficiency of a unit is defined as a weighted sum of its outputs divided by a
weighted sum of its inputs and it is measured on a bounded ratio scale. The weights
for inputs and outputs are estimated in the best advantage for each unit so as to
maximise its relative efficiency.
Consider a set of n units, each operating with m inputs and s outputs. Let yrj
be the amount of the rth output from unit j, and xij be the amount of the ith
input to the jth unit. According to the VRS DEA model, the relative efficiency of a
particular unit j0 is obtained by the optimal value of the objective function in the
following linear program:

s
X
max hj0 = ur yrj0 − u0
r=1
s.t.

m
X
vi xij0 = 1
i=1
Xs m
X
ur yrj − vi xij0 − u0 ≤ 0, j = 1, . . . , n
r=1 i=1
ur , vi ≥ 0 ∀r, i, u0 free in sign

The decision variables u = (u1 , . . . , us ) and v = (v1 , . . . , vm ) are the weights given
to the s outputs and to the m inputs respectively. To obtain the relative efficiencies
of all the units, the model is solved for one unit at a time. Let (uj , vj ) be the
optimal weighting structure for unit j and h∗j = hj (uj , v j ) be its efficiency score.
According to their efficiency scores, the units are classified into two groups: The

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DEA-efficient units (those attaining h∗j = 1) and the inefficient units (those with
h∗j ≤ 1). A DEA-efficient unit is actually self-rated efficient by choosing the set of
weights that shows it in the best advantage.

3. Problem Setting
We deal with the problem of evaluation of public high schools in Greece. The analy-
sis is restricted to a sample of high schools operating in Greater Athens Area (GAA)
that represents about the 40% of the population of the country. There are totally
219 high schools operating in the GAA. The sample consists of 60 high schools se-
lected randomly in a manner that all the municipalities in the GAA are represented
in the sample and the number of schools in each municipality is proportional to its
population.
In a first step, the municipalities and hence the schools operating in them are
partitioned in four clusters of similar socio-economic environment on the basis of
three indicators (data are obtained from the National Statistical Service): the educa-
tional indicator (EDU), the occupation indicator (OCU) and the housing indicator
(HOU). All the indices ,except the HOU, are calculated for each municipality over
the age group in the range 30-50. This age group normally constitutes a potential
parentage group related to the students attending the high school in the period of
the study. EDU is defined as the percentage of the residents in the municipality
who have graduated at least a high school over the population of the municipality in
the above age group. OCU is defined as the percentage of the residents who posses
a high-level job (scientists, doctors, executives, merchants, teachers, self occupied
etc.) over the population of the municipality. The third indicator (HOU) captures
the average housing facilities in each municipality . It is calculated as the percent-
age of the residents who live in a house with a number of main rooms at least equal
to the number of persons living in this house. Table 1 below summarizes the four
clusters on the three socio-economic indicators.
Table 1: Statistical description of the clusters

HOU OCU EDU


Cluster Mean Stand. Dev. Mean Stand. Dev. Mean Stand. Dev.
1 67.962 2.834 34.772 3.485 37.525 6.214
2 74.154 2.807 45.097 2.800 55.856 7.735
3 84.262 2.573 60.137 4.256 76.091 5.211
4 96.658 1.030 83.133 5.426 93.185 2.486
The cluster 1 contains the municipalities of West and Southwest GAA that are char-
acterized by rates of unemployment over the average, high percentages of emigrants
and the lowest prices in the real estate market in GAA. The cluster 2 consists of
the downtown and the municipalities around the Central Municipality of Athens
and delimits the most multitudinous region of GAA. It is characterized by medium
prices in the real estate market, much greater than those in cluster 1. The cluster
3 contains the municipalities of South and North suburbs, which are mainly char-
acterized by a pure residential structure and the highest prices in the real estate

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market in GAA. The cluster 4 consists of two municipalities on the boundaries of
clusters 2 and 3 with mixed characteristics.
The intra-school indicators considered in the study are: regular full time teachers
(FTT), number of students per teacher (SPT), university entrants (UEN) and upper
level graduates (ULG). FTT is the percentage of regular full time teachers over the
total number of teachers in the school. SPT is defined as the students-to-teachers
ratio and captures the class size. UEN is the percentage of the students of the school
that matriculated in one of the Universities of the Greek State after participating
in the national matriculation examinations. ULG is the percentage of the students
shown an upper level performance (over 80%)
According to the transformation paradigm of the data envelopment analysis, FTT
and SPT are put in the input side and UEN and ULG in the output side. To
handle SPT as input, the inverse of the students-to-teachers ratio is used. Table
2 provides a statistical description of the performance data of the schools over the
four indicators (complete data are avoided due to space limitations).

Table 2: Table of statistical analysis of our school data

FTT SPT UEN ULG


(input) (input) (output) (output)
Total (60) Min 0.500 0.071 0.015 0.070
Max 1.000 0.165 0.154 0.650
Mean 0.900 0.101 0.083 0.416
Stand. Dev. 0.088 0.020 0.038 0.128
Cluster 1 Min 0.765 0.072 0.033 0.070
Max 1.000 0.114 0.135 0.580
Mean 0.916 0.092 0.079 0.394
Stand. Dev. 0.069 0.012 0.037 0.159
Cluster 2 Min 0.500 0.071 0.015 0.130
Max 1.000 0.165 0.154 0.650
Mean 0.867 0.106 0.078 0.392
Stand. Dev. 0.094 0.024 0.039 0.120
Cluster 3 Min 0.833 0.079 0.036 0.311
Max 1.000 0.117 0.137 0.643
Mean 0.949 0.100 0.091 0.492
Stand. Dev. 0.054 0.012 0.034 0.101
Cluster 4 Min 1.000 0.095 0.129 0.380
Max 1.000 0.096 0.130 0.405
Mean 1.000 0.096 0.130 0.392
Stand. Dev. 0.000 0.001 0.001 0.018

Two DEA models (input-output mix) were examined as shown in Table 3 below.

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Table 3: Input/Output mix examined

Inputs/Outputs Model 1 Model 2


FTT (Input) x x
SPT (Input) x x
UEN (Output) x x
ULG (Output) x

4. Results and discussion


There is a subjective dimension in ULG, as the evaluation of the students is made
on the basis of the teachers’ criteria. So the exemption of the output ULG (see
Table 3) makes model 2 more objective in relation to model 1, as it eliminates from
the evaluation model any subjective dimension inherent in ULG. For each one of
the above input/output settings, both intra-cluster and universal efficiency assess-
ments are carried out by using the VRS DEA model. In intra-cluster assessments
the efficiency (CEFF) of each school is estimated in relation with the schools that
belong to the same cluster. In universal assessments the efficiency of each evalu-
ated school (UEFF) is estimated relatively to the whole sample of schools. The
efficiency analysis results obtained are summarized in Table 4 below. For the shake
of anonymity, each school appears with a symbolic name sx-y where x represents
the number of the cluster in which the school belongs and y is the serial number of
the school within the cluster.

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Table 4: Intra-cluster and universal school efficiencies

Model 1 Model 2

Schools UEFF CEFF ICEFF UEFF CEFF ICEFF

s1-1 0.941 1.000(0) 0.941 0.941 1.000(2) 0.941


s1-2 1.000(25) 1.000(4) 1.000 1.000(36) 1.000(5) 1.000
s1-3 0.943 1.000(1) 0.943 0.943 1.000(3) 0.943
s1-4 0.993 1.000(1) 0.993 0.881 0.981 0.898
s1-5 0.917 1.000(1) 0.917 0.912 0.992 0.919
s1-6 0.840 0.966 0.870 0.840 0.963 0.872
s1-7 0.915 1.000(2) 0.915 0.909 1.000(5) 0.909
s1-8 0.744 0.807 0.922 0.744 0.807 0.922
s1-9 0.981 1.000(2) 0.981 0.981 1.000(2) 0.981
s1-10 0.915 1.000(0) 0.915 0.790 0.906 0.872
s1-11 0.887 0.891 0.996 0.887 0.887 0.999
s1-12 0.915 0.930 0.984 0.915 0.930 0.984

s2-1 0.908 0.927 0.980 0.829 0.830 0.999


s2-2 1.000(2) 1.000(2) 1.000 0.728 0.728 1.000
s2-3 0.879 0.886 0.992 0.879 0.886 0.992
s2-4 0.788 0.791 0.996 0.788 0.791 0.996
s2-5 0.855 0.863 0.991 0.855 0.863 0.991
s2-6 0.865 0.884 0.978 0.865 0.884 0.978
s2-7 0.885 0.889 0.996 0.854 0.858 0.995
s2-8 0.892 0.913 0.976 0.892 0.913 0.976
s2-9 0.985 0.987 0.998 0.982 0.987 0.996
s2-10 0.885 0.901 0.982 0.885 0.901 0.982
s2-11 0.886 0.886 1.000 0.886 0.886 1.000
s2-12 1.000(1) 1.000(2) 1.000 1.000(3) 1.000(0) 1.000
s2-13 0.941 0.946 0.996 0.893 0.908 0.982
s2-14 0.828 0.828 1.000 0.828 0.828 1.000
s2-15 0.834 0.841 0.992 0.796 0.796 1.000
s2-16 0.800 0.800 1.000 0.800 0.800 1.000
s2-17 0.894 0.895 0.999 0.894 0.895 0.999
s2-18 1.000(0) 1.000(0) 1.000 1.000(1) 1.000(0) 1.000
s2-19 0.944 0.949 0.995 0.944 0.949 0.995
s2-20 0.651 0.651 1.000 0.651 0.651 1.000
s2-21 1.000(6) 1.000(5) 1.000 1.000(9) 1.000(8) 1.000
s2-22 0.928 0.933 0.994 0.928 0.933 0.994
s2-23 0.848 0.848 1.000 0.738 0.738 1.000
s2-24 1.000(39) 1.000(24) 1.000 1.000(44) 1.000(27) 1.000
s2-25 1.000(2) 1.000(3) 1.000 0.882 0.884 0.998
s2-26 1.000(7) 1.000(1) 1.000 0.866 0.869 0.996
s2-27 1.000(25) 1.000(16) 1.000 1.000(32) 1.000(19) 1.000
s2-28 0.879 0.889 0.989 0.878 0.889 0.988
s2-29 0.896 0.900 0.995 0.889 0.900 0.987
s2-30 0.945 0.950 0.994 0.945 0.950 0.994
s2-31 0.856 0.856 1.000 0.856 0.856 1.000
s2-32 0.899 0.908 0.991 0.899 0.908 0.991

s3-1 0.758 0.879 0.862 0.758 0.879 0.862


s3-2 1.000(5) 1.000(4) 1.000 0.985 1.000(1) 0.985
s3-3 0.830 0.954 0.870 0.830 0.954 0.870
s3-4 0.837 0.914 0.916 0.837 0.914 0.916
s3-5 0.857 1.000(5) 0.857 0.857 1.000(6) 0.857
s3-6 0.861 0.934 0.922 0.849 0.923 0.919
s3-7 0.834 0.931 0.896 0.834 0.931 0.896
s3-8 1.000(0) 1.000(1) 1.000 0.958 0.986 0.971
s3-9 0.884 0.938 0.942 0.766 0.865 0.885
s3-10 1.000(2) 1.000(7) 1.000 1.000(4) 1.000(9) 1.000
s3-11 0.861 0.949 0.908 0.861 0.949 0.908
s3-12 0.850 0.935 0.909 0.847 0.933 0.908
s3-13 1.000(9) 1.000(3) 1.000 1.000(0) 1.000(2) 1.000
s3-14 1.000(0) 1.000(0) 1.000 1.000(0) 1.000(1) 1.000

s4-1 0.915 1.000(0) 0.915 0.824 1.000(0) 0.824


s4-2 0.914 1.000(0) 0.914 0.819 1.000(0) 0.819

For the efficient schools, the efficiency score of 1.000 is followed (in parentheses)
by the frequency with which the school is used as a reference by the inefficient
schools. We applied the idea of decomposing the efficiency [5] in order to represent
the socio-economic environment effect on the efficiency of a school. This is shown
in the columns labeled ICEFF by the ratios UEFF/CEFF that represent the effect
of the clustering in the efficiency assessments. Always holds (UEFF/CEFF)≤ 1.
The lowest is this ratio the greatest is the effect of socio-economic clustering in the
efficiency of a school.

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[Universal assessments (UEFF) ]: With the input/output mix of model 1, fourteen
(14) schools are estimated efficient in universal efficiency assessments (one from
cluster 1, eight from cluster 2 and five from cluster 3). With model 2, nine (9)
schools are estimated efficient in universal efficiency assessments (one from cluster
1, five from cluster 2 and three from cluster 3). The schools that are efficient
in model 2 are also efficient in model 1. School s2-24, followed by s1-2 and s2-27,
seems to outperform the other efficient schools, in both input/output settings, in the
sense that they are the most frequently used as reference by the inefficient schools.
This means that these three schools have the strongest impact in constructing the
efficient frontier.

[Intra-cluster assessments (CEFF) ]: Eight (8) out of the twelve schools in cluster 1
are proved to operate efficiently when their efficiency is assessed within the cluster
(model 1). Recall here that only one school of the cluster 1, the s1-2, is efficient
also in universal assessment. This is an indication of the impact of the clustering to
the efficiency of the schools. The ratios ICEFF=(UEFF/CEFF) for the schools of
cluster 1 indicate that a significant portion of their efficiency can be attributed to
the socio-economic characteristics of the particular region rather than to the school
operation itself. With a small differentiation, the same holds for the efficiency
evaluations with model 2. Unlike the cluster 1, the efficient schools of cluster 2
(eight out of the thirty-two schools) maintain their efficiency in both universal and
intra-cluster assessments. This holds for both models 1 and 2. In cluster 3, the
majority of the efficient schools maintain their efficiency in universal assessments
also and this holds for both the models 1 and 2. The results obtained for cluster 4
are not informative due to the limited number schools in the sample. Table 5 below
summarizes the average performance of the clusters.

Table 5. Average Efficiencies within the clusters

Average UEFF Average CEFF

Model 1
Cluster 1 0.916 0.966
Cluster 3 0.898 0.960
Cluster 4 0.915 1.000
Model 2
Cluster 1 0.895 0.956
Cluster 2 0.879 0.884
Cluster 3 0.884 0.952
Cluster 4 0.821 1.000

[Intra-model comparisons ]: Comparing the efficiency scores of the schools obtained


with models 1 and 2 one can observe the following. In cluster1, when moving from
model 1 to model 2 the universally efficient school s1-2 maintains its efficiency. In
intra-cluster assessments however, 37.5% of the efficient schools lose their efficiency

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status. The cause of this variation is the exemption of the variable ULG from the set
of outputs. As there is a subjective dimension inherent in ULG (teachers personal
attitude), one can conclude that only 62.5

5. Conclusion
This paper deals with the problem of high schools evaluation. It is commonly
accepted that the performance of a school can be attributed to both intra-school
factors as well as to the socio-economic environment. We observed that schools
operating in non-privileged areas perform, on average, better than the schools in
privileged areas. Proceeding to a decomposition of the total efficiency, we provided a
measure of inefficiency attributed to the school’s environment. Such decomposition
provides a deep insight in school’s performance and might be considered as a useful
tool for setting targets for schools, both in a regional and national sense, and in
developing strategies in order to improve the quality of the education in a national
scale.

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