Monday, April 12, 2010

Myschool website

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At the beginning of this year the Australian Government via ACARA Launched the Myschools website. a league table of all the schools in Australia, both public and private - based on one metric - the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy, a series of tests given to year 3, 5 7 and 9 students in May.

To say it is a little unfair would be understating problem. One metric on one week determines the score for an entire school. The test is based on the New South Wales Curriculum (each state has it own curriculum - National Curriculum is coming this year).

The tests are mostly (except for the writing) multiple choice, and the mathematics test has almost the same amount of reading as the comprehension tests, severely limiting ESL students who my be capable of mathematics but can't comprehend the way the question is worded.

The website does integrate information like demographics but the format is difficult to read if you just want to get an overall feel for the school.

Max Cruise wrote an excellent article in Rotarian Life and has given permission for me to copy it into this blog. He has an excellent idea.

Finally, thanks to, we can see how badly our local school is performing. We got a NAPLAN average of 301! How bad is that? Actually, it's hard to tell because nobody knows what it means.

Then, even when the score was adjusted for ICEA RAW (although we don't know what this means either), it was only 108, which can't be good, can it?

Humans are funny. If we can rank something or categorise it, we will.

However, it is difficult to see the advantage this latest bureaucratic offering offers us in dealing with disadvantage - ostensibly the reason for myschool - since we know where the disadvantage lies anyway.

Nevertheless, we can now see our rank, thus enabling us to blame someone other than ourselves for our children's failings.

Fantastic! But why stop at schools? Why not a myschool thingy for all public services?
Lets start with politicians; they would surely welcome to weed out under performers. We could use the Commonwealth Research Assessing Politician's Laziness and Niceness scores. Adjusted for disadvantaged electorates, such as those with National Party members.

Better yet, how about a Schools could see who the under performing parents are so that they can be sacked or retrained or given more resources.

Hang on as with schools, we already know where the under performing parents are, so lets give them some dosh and cut out the middle-plan.

As with the current obsession with metrics and KPI's in the corporate world - National testing is not going away... and even if teachers strike on test days (which is what a lot of teachers are planning) there will be some sort of public ranking.

I just wish is was more broad based than one series of tests on one week. We don't assess students on one test for their reports, we take into account a range of assessment tasks as well as behaviour and improvement. It reduces 'gaming" the system and assessments can be made in a range of contexts.

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

At the heart of the matter is this: a test can't show the total picture of a student (or anyone). This is what makes testing for rank such a nightmare. It isn't really an accurate picture of what is happening with a student or a school. I understand that we all like things to fit in a nice neat category that we "understand" that lets us quickly determine if something is good or bad. We are talking about human beings here. Nothing so static will ever be able to give us an accurate understanding.