Performance assessment of secondary schools: the snapshot of a country taken by DEA

M. C. S. Portela*, A. S. Camanho, D. Borges

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes a performance assessment of Portuguese secondary schools using data envelopment analysis (DEA). The assessment adopts a perspective where schools are viewed as promoting students achievement given their characteristics in terms of academic abilities and socio-economic background. Our sample comprised all secondary schools in Portugal with both basic and secondary education levels. Two types of DEA analysis are performed: one using an output-oriented model that restricts output (exam scores) weights to be linked to the number of students that have done that exam in the school, and the other using a model that restricts factor weights to be equal for all schools. In this model the weight restrictions are linked to the total number of exams done nationally. The first model is well suited for identifying worst performing schools and to assess schools that may specialize in certain subjects, whereas the latter is best suited for improving discrimination between best performing schools when pursuing the identification of benchmarks, as well as to construct performance rankings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1115
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Operational Research Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Data envelopment analysis
  • Secondary schools
  • Single weights
  • Weight restrictions


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