US School Cheating Scandal Sends Warning on My School

One of the largest school cheating scandals ever in the US is under investigation in the state of Georgia. Last week, the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that one in five of Georgia’s public elementary and middle schools are under investigation for changing student answers on the tests. Continue reading “US School Cheating Scandal Sends Warning on My School”

Gillard’s Case for Publishing School Results is Based on Faith Not Evidence

Julia Gillard claims that publishing school results on the My School website will create pressures for school improvement; better inform parent choice of school; identify best practice and where additional resources are needed.

None of these arguments withstands scrutiny. The Minister’s claims are faith-based rather than evidence-based. Continue reading “Gillard’s Case for Publishing School Results is Based on Faith Not Evidence”

House of Commons Report Damns League Tables and Warns on School Report Cards

The UK House of Commons Committee for Children, Schools and Families has made a devastating critique of the impact of league tables on education in England. In a recent report on school accountability the Committee says that school performance tables present a very narrow view of school performance and there are inherent methodological and statistical problems with the way they are constructed. Continue reading “House of Commons Report Damns League Tables and Warns on School Report Cards”

Languages Learning Under Threat from League Tables

Language education in secondary schools continues to decline under the pressure of league tables according to new reports on language education just released in England and the United States. The studies add to the weight of evidence that league tables narrow the school curriculum and student learning. They suggest that the efforts to expand language learning in Australia are likely to be impeded by the imminent publication of school results. Continue reading “Languages Learning Under Threat from League Tables”

My School is in Breach of National Ministerial Agreement

The new national system of reporting school test results has failed to meet the standards set for it by education ministers.

The My School website unveiled by the Federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, last month is in breach of the national ministerial agreement for reporting school results.  Continue reading “My School is in Breach of National Ministerial Agreement”

Dirty Tricks Used to Boost School Rankings

The imminent publication of school results in Australia will inevitably give rise to the extensive rorting and manipulation of results to improve school rankings that has become a feature of school systems in England and the United States.

A common rort is for schools to selectively admit high achieving students, ‘cream off’ high achievers from other schools and exclude low achievers so as to boost their results.

Continue reading “Dirty Tricks Used to Boost School Rankings”

My School Reports Will Name and Shame

I can absolutely guarantee there’s not one part of the Education Revolution that’s about naming and shaming schools. I won’t do that, I don’t believe in doing that….it’s not about naming and shaming.

So said Julia Gillard in a doorstop interview just hours after she unveiled the My School website last month.

Her statement is either a crass deceit or it reveals her complete ignorance about what she is doing and that she just sprouts whatever her advisors put in front of her. Continue reading “My School Reports Will Name and Shame”

School Choice Increases the Social Divide in Education

A major new study of school choice in England has found that it compounds the social divide in education. Whilst parents do not admit to choosing schools on the basis of their social composition, this happens in practice. Continue reading “School Choice Increases the Social Divide in Education”

Annual Ritual Naming and Shaming of Schools is Gillard’s Future for Australia

The future for Australia was on show this week as England went through its annual ritual hunt for the worst performing schools in the country.

Following publication of primary school test results on a government website, league tables of the best and worst schools in England were published by all the major newspapers. Continue reading “Annual Ritual Naming and Shaming of Schools is Gillard’s Future for Australia”

Most Children Attend Their Neighbourhood School

Government claims that the neighbourhood school is obsolete and that most students do not attend their local school are refuted by the Government’s own enrolment data.

The Minister for Education has argued that large numbers of families have deserted the neighbourhood school.

…the majority of students now do not walk to school. Approaching 50 per cent of students in our public system in fact do not even attend their local school and go past often eight or ten other government schools to attend a particular school that their parents have chosen or that they have chosen. So I think it is already the case that parents and students are making the choice not to attend local schools. [Hansard, 16 August 2006]

The Minister has also argued that the neighbourhood school is a relic of the sixties and seventies and that it does not now reflect the modern day realities of Canberra and the way in which parents and students are making choices about which school to attend [Hansard, 16 August 2006].

These claims are incorrect. The Minister for Education has mislead the Legislative Assembly and the public about the extent to which students attend a government school other than their local school.

The fact is that the large majority of families continue to support their local school. According to 2006 enrolment data, 64 per cent of primary school students are attending their local neighbourhood school.

It is also relevant to note that in the secondary sector, 62 per cent of students attend their local high school and 63 per cent of college students attend their local college. These figures are similar to those of ten years ago; the high school figure is slightly down on that of 1996, while that for colleges has increased slightly.

Furthermore, only about half of the primary schools proposed for full closure retain less than 50 per cent of the resident PEA students. Several primary schools proposed for closure retain an above average proportion of resident PEA students: for example, Gilmore (66%), Giralang (70%) and Holt (67%).

Several of the schools that retain less than 50% of the resident PEA students meet particular needs of the local community in that they have a large proportion of low SES, Indigenous and SWD students: for example, Melrose, Mt. Neighbour, Rivett and Village Creek. Nearly all the schools proposed for part closure and which retain less than 50% of the resident PEA students also serve particular needs of the local community.

Thus, contrary to the claims of the ACT Government, the neighbourhood school still serves an important role in the local community and is supported by the large majority of families.

Trevor Cobbold