School Autonomy Allows Schools to Fall Through the Gap

A second report in a week by the UK House of Commons has criticised the effect of school autonomy in England. The Public Accounts Committee issued a report saying problems in schools are going unnoticed because of a lack of oversight of schools under the autonomy regime. It has “allowed some schools to fall through the gap” and failure to go “unnoticed”.

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No Evidence that Independent Public Schools in England Raise Standards

A UK House of Commons report published last week says that there is no evidence that academies, England’s version of independent public schools, improve school results. The report by the bi-partisan education select committee said that although it was clear that academies led to greater competition, there was not yet proof that they raised standards for disadvantaged students or overall. Several issues raised by the report are very relevant to the expansion of independent public schools in Australia.

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Charter Schools’ Promise Unfulfilled

Charter schools are a central component of current efforts to change the face of public education in the United States. Charter schools are publicly financed, but free of many of the regulations that govern traditional public schools, such as those involving staffing, curriculum, and budget decisions. Independent public schools in Australia are similar to charter schools in some respects such as autonomy in staffing and budget decisions.

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“Markets Don’t Work in Education” Shockwave

A leading US education research economist caused shockwaves amongst the education research community last week by saying that markets don’t work in education. Dr. Margaret Raymond from Stanford University said that after decades of looking at charter schools in the US she has come to the conclusion that the “market mechanism just doesn’t work” in education.

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Education Chief Says Market-Based Policies are Ineffective

The head of Australia’s leading education research body, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), has questioned the effectiveness of teacher and school incentives as a school improvement strategy. ACER Chief Executive Geoff Masters said that there is little evidence that performance pay for teachers, financial incentives for schools, encouraging competition between schools and sanctions on schools that fail to improve are effective in delivering better student outcomes. Continue reading “Education Chief Says Market-Based Policies are Ineffective”

Claimed Advantage for Disadvantaged Students in Charter Schools is Much Ado About Nothing

In a column in The Australian last Monday, Jennifer Buckingham from the Centre for Independent Studies claimed that the expansion of Independent Public Schools will benefit students who have the most to gain. The basis for her claim is that independent public schools in the United States, called charter schools, achieve much higher results for low income and minority students than do traditional public schools. However, her evidence fails to stack up and she is guilty of grossly exaggerating the differences in results.

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Victorian Report on School Autonomy is Intellectually Bankrupt

The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission report on school autonomy published at the end of last month is a remarkable document. It finds that the research evidence on school autonomy is inconclusive about its effects on student performance, but then it rejects its own finding and recommends increasing school autonomy. In so doing, it opts for faith over evidence.

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OECD Says That Competition in Education Has Failed

The OECD has issued a damning verdict on education policies that promote competition between schools. Its latest PISA in Focus brief says bluntly that the PISA international test data shows that more competition has failed to improve student results and has increased social segregation between schools.

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The Evidence Does Not “Stack-up” for Independent Public Schools

This is an edited version of the negative case made by Professor Alan Reid of the University of South Australia in a debate with Kevin Donnelly about independent public schools held at the Australian Curriculum Studies Association Symposium in Canberra on Friday August 1, 2014. The full presentation is available below.

I argue that the idea of public schools being ‘independent’ is philosophically at odds with what lies at the core of public education and that IPS is a policy in search of evidence. Continue reading “The Evidence Does Not “Stack-up” for Independent Public Schools”

Chile’s Failed Free Market Education System Faces Overhaul

Chile has one of the oldest large scale universal school voucher programs in the world. It was established under the Pinochet dictatorship during the 1980s as part of a policy to create a free market in education through decentralization and privatization of the education system. Continue reading “Chile’s Failed Free Market Education System Faces Overhaul”