Benchmarking of secondary schools based on students’ results in higher education

Maria C. A. Silva*, Ana S. Camanho, Flávia Barbosa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The performance of secondary schools is usually assessed based on students’ results on national exams at the end of secondary education. This research uses data on academic achievements by first-year university students to benchmark secondary schools on their ability to lead students to success in higher education. The analysis is conducted using data of University of Porto and Catholic University of Porto, Portugal, for a three-year period, corresponding to more than 10.000 students from 65 degrees, for which the school of origin is known. A number of variables representing students’ success in Higher education were constructed for each school in our sample and aggregated through a Benefit of the Doubt indicator. Results suggest that the schools’ ranking based on schools’ ability to prepare students for university success is quite different from the ranking based on results on national exams. Given these findings, we propose complementing schools’ performance assessments (traditionally based on national exam results or indicators of value added) with indicators that account for the preparation of students for success in future challenges, which is indisputably a key objective of secondary education. We propose a composite indicator for the analysis of these complementary aims as well, and results show that frontier units indeed exhibit trade offs between traditional measures of performance and our new measure of performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102119
Number of pages13
JournalOmega (United Kingdom)
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Composite indicators
  • Data envelopment analysis
  • Higher education
  • Secondary schools’ benchmarking


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