Investigating the variation in student performance in the A'level examinations in Uganda:
Nshemereirwe, Connie V.
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Student performance in the A’Level national examinations in Uganda is the main criterion for selection for higher education, particularly university. About 2000 merit-based scholarships are available annually for the best performing applicants to public universities, but in recent years the majority of the recipients of these scholarships have come from only a handful of the best performing secondary schools in the country university. This reflects a wider issue of the widely differing quality of secondary schools in Uganda, and motivated the current study. In order to investigate the nature of the school effect within the A’Level performance, a multilevel modelling procedure was employed. Covering a period of five years (2005-2010), it was found that up to 30% of the variation in student performance at the end of A’Level could be attributed to the student’s A’Level school. Almost one quarter of this school effect was explained by four school characteristics: ownership, boarding status, gender ratio and whether it run the free universal secondary education (USE) programme. Of these, single-sex boarding schools that did not run the USE programme had the highest performance advantage. The performance advantages attributable to the type of school which students attend at A’Level can partly explain why the majority of students enrolled at universities in Uganda come from such a small proportion of secondary schools.