Speech on Achievement Gaps and School Funding in Australia

National Convenor of Save Our Schools, Trevor Cobbold, presented a paper on achievement gaps and school funding in Australia to the Annual Conference of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia in Canberra on 14 October.

The paper discusses the extent of achievement gaps between different groups of students, why equity in education matters and shows that the vast majority of educationally disadvantaged students are enrolled in government schools. Given these challenges, government schools are severely under-resourced compared to private schools. Yet, the largest increases in government funding have gone to private schools over the past decade.

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Teachers are More Likely to Transfer from Schools with Low Results

A recent paper published by the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University in Chicago shows that teachers are more likely to leave schools with falling results than schools whose results do not change or increase. Furthermore, it is the higher quality teachers who are more likely to transfer to another school as a result of falling school results.

The results point to a major challenge facing struggling schools: low average results lead to high teacher turnover; good teachers leaving leads to worse results and a spiral of decline that often leads to school closure. Continue reading “Teachers are More Likely to Transfer from Schools with Low Results”

The Creeping Privatisation of Public Education

Last month, the Brumby Labor Government in Victoria launched a new foundation to make it easier for businesses to make donations to government schools in Victoria. The Business Working with Education Foundation has been established as a registered charitable company to co-ordinate and facilitate business donations to schools.

Under existing tax laws, businesses cannot make tax-deductible donations to individual government schools. Unlike independent schools, which are able to generate millions of dollars from tax-deductible donations, public schools are not considered to be “charitable organisations” under federal tax laws. The new foundation provides a way for business to contribute to funding public education. Continue reading “The Creeping Privatisation of Public Education”

School Results Matter for Voluntary Financial Donations to Schools

The negative consequences of publishing school results and league tables are now well-known and have been documented in many research studies. They include narrowing the curriculum, turning classrooms into testing factories, rorting of school results, high quality teachers leaving schools with low results, and increasing social segregation between schools.

New research has revealed another negative consequence for schools with low average results – voluntary financial donations by parents decline when a school gets lower results. Continue reading “School Results Matter for Voluntary Financial Donations to Schools”

Using Enrolment Data to Measure School Socio-economic Status Will Bias Like School Comparisons in Favour of Private Schools

The current system of comparing the literacy and numeracy test results of so-called “like schools” on the My School website is systematically biased against government schools because the results of higher socio-economic status (SES) private schools are compared with lower SES government schools.

This bias occurs because the measure of school SES is based on the average of geographical areas in which students live rather than on their family SES. Some high SES families live in low SES areas, but their children are more likely to attend private schools than government schools. They carry their low area SES rating with them and this causes the SES of private schools they attend to be under-estimated.

It also causes the SES of government schools to be over-estimated because it is based on the area average which includes high SES families who do not attend government schools. So, the SES of private schools is systematically under-estimated and that of government schools is systematically over-estimated. Continue reading “Using Enrolment Data to Measure School Socio-economic Status Will Bias Like School Comparisons in Favour of Private Schools”

Murdoch Turns the Screws on Joel Klein

How things have changed as a result of the fiasco with the New York City system of grading schools. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has lost patience with Joel Klein. It told Klein he should scrap the grading system because it “stinks” and is “jerry-rigged”. Continue reading “Murdoch Turns the Screws on Joel Klein”

High Farce in New York City

Remember Joel Klein? He is New York City’s Schools Chancellor whom Julia Gillard, as Federal Education Minister, brought to Australia in 2008 to spruik New York’s school reporting system as a model for Australia.

Gillard claimed that reporting individual school results in New York are “working” and have produced “remarkable outcomes”. She said that there has been continual improvement in student achievement in New York City under Klein.

Well, Klein’s model has degenerated into high farce and with it so too has Gillard’s credibility. Continue reading “High Farce in New York City”

Doctors Play the Numbers Too

In the US, some health insurance companies are posting report cards on individual doctors on-line to encourage patients to look for the “best” doctors. The rationale is to “incentivize” physicians to practice “quality” medicine by concentrating on particular evidenced-based measures of efficient health care. Sound familiar? Continue reading “Doctors Play the Numbers Too”

Get Used to “Bubble Kids” and “Educational Triage”

“Bubble kids”, “target intervention group” and “educational triage” are terms that the education community and the public will need to come to grips with in coming years. They reflect new educational approaches in the era of publication of school results and league tables.

“Bubble kids” are students whose results form a bubble just below proficiency benchmarks on standardised tests such as NAPLAN. They form a “target intervention group” to improve school results. “Educational triage” is the practice of devoting extra resources and time to the “bubble kids” or the “target intervention group” to get them above the proficiency benchmark. Continue reading “Get Used to “Bubble Kids” and “Educational Triage””

Students from Disadvantaged Schools do as well at University as Other Students

Students from disadvantaged schools did as well as those from other government and private schools in first-year subjects at the University of Sydney last year and actually did better than students from all other schools, excluding government selective schools.

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