More Questions Raised About the New York School Reporting Model

More questions are being raised about the validity and reliability of the New York system of reporting school performance, which Julia Gillard wants to introduce in Australian schools.

Last week, report cards for New York City elementary and middle schools were released for 2007-08. They show huge variations from the previous year and significant inconsistencies with other test results. Continue reading “More Questions Raised About the New York School Reporting Model”

ALP Education Policy is an Admission of Failure

The education policy announced by the ALP this week is an admission of Government failure in education over the past 7 years. The Government has suddenly discovered the huge achievement gap in the ACT, despite criticising Save Our Schools for raising this in the past.

The Government is clearly running scared about education as an election issue. It is desperately trying to gloss over its legacy of failure in school education.

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Gillard’s School Reporting Model is a Triumph of Ideology over Evidence

The Rudd Government’s “education revolution” is looking more and more like an extension of the Howard Government’s school policies. All the same elements are there – choice and competition, reliance on markets, and now public reporting of school results. Continue reading “Gillard’s School Reporting Model is a Triumph of Ideology over Evidence”

Choice or Equity in Education?

This paper, by Trevor Cobbold, was delivered to the Education Summit in Sydney in June 2008.

It argues that choice has failed the promise of its advocates to improve education outcomes and that it has not only deflected education systems from dealing with the major challenge of inequity in education, but has exacerbated inequity. Continue reading “Choice or Equity in Education?”

Do Smaller Classes Make a Difference and is it Cost Effective?

The Liberal Party proposal to reduce class sizes from about 30 to 21 in Years 4-6 in government schools will be popularly received. Reducing class sizes is one of the very few education policies that are widely endorsed by teachers and parents.

The Opposition is to be congratulated for committing a large funding increase for government schools. However, across the board reductions in class sizes are expensive and there are more cost effective ways to improve student outcomes.

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More Meaningless Rhetoric on Community Consultation

The Chief Minister’s proposals for the reform of community consultation processes in the ACT amount to more meaningless rhetoric from a Government under pressure.

The Chief Minister is only promising superficial change, not real change. All he has done is to serve up more bureaucratic drivel that fails to deal with the key failures in community consultation.

The big failure of the Stanhope Govt on community consultation has been its use of sham consultations to get a pre-determined outcome. This is what it did in the case of the W. Belconnen super-school and the school closure program. It had made up its mind before the consultations began.

What the Chief Minister has to do to make real change is to commit to full open consultations processes, not sham consultations.

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Govt. is in a Dither over Closed School Sites

The ACT Government is in a complete dither about what to do with the closed school sites. On the one hand, it has a report from Purdon Associates that says “sell, sell, sell”. However, the problem for the Government is that the report also reveals strong community opposition to selling off school buildings and ‘green space’.

There is a stark contrast between the recommendations of the Purdon’s report and the outcomes of the consultation it conducted with regional and local communities last year. The report recommended partial or full re-development of each closed school site (except Hall and Tharwa), while retaining some parts for community use.

It also found that there is a strong community preference for the buildings and grounds to be retained for community use. There was very limited community support for re-development of the sites.

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Minister for Education Disowns Budget Figures

At the Budget Estimates hearings last week on education, the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, effectively disowned the Chief Minister’s budget figures. The Minister resorted to producing ‘rubbery’ figures not reported in the Budget Papers in order to give the appearance of a real increase in government school funding for 2008-09.

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A Message of Support From Save Our Schools

Save Our Schools has sent a message of support to the Hemmant school community in Brisbane who are fighting against their school closing.

Hemmant is a small school of 90 students supported by a very committed parent community. The Queensland Minister for Education wants to combine it with up to 4 other primary schools into one with over 900 enrolments. The school has been the hub of the community for 144 years with all buildings heritage listed. It appears that the Government wants to sell off the land. Continue reading “A Message of Support From Save Our Schools”

False Claims by Minister on ACT Budget

The ACT Government has claimed that it is increasing per capita funding for government schools in 2008–09 by 8% in real terms (that is, adjusted for inflation) and total real funding by 6%, contrary to the figures provided in its own budget papers.

The claims are made in a paper selectively circulated by the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, which purports to refute the analysis of the schools Budget published by Save Our Schools. Evidently, the Government has been stung by criticism of the Schools Budget by SOS.

The Minister’s claims are false. At best, there is no increase in real funding available for government schools in 2008-09. In fact, real funding is likely to decline. The mistakes in the paper reflect either deliberate misinformation or extraordinary ignorance about the Budget Papers.

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