Gillard Wrong Again on New York

It has to be seriously questioned whether the Federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, is interested in informed debate on reporting school results. Writing in The Australian (9 January), she asserts incorrectly that the New York City model of school reporting has made a difference to students living in poverty and disadvantage.

The facts are as follows.

First, the National Assessment for Educational Progress tests show that there was no improvement in the average reading test scores of low income 4th and 8th grade students between 2003 and 2007, taking statistical margins of error into account. There was a small improvement in average mathematics scores.

Second, there is a large achievement gap between low income and other students in reading and mathematics in both 4th and 8th grade. There was no reduction in these achievement gaps between 2003 and 2007.

Third, there was no improvement in the percentage of low income students at or above basic proficiency levels in 4th and 8th grade reading between 2003 and 2007. There was no improvement in the percentage of low income students at or above basic or proficiency levels in 8th grade mathematics, but a significant increase in 4th grade mathematics.

Yes, there are elements of improvement, but the overall picture is one of stagnation in the achievement of low income students since Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein, starting implementing changes to the New York City school system. It hardly justifies the glowing praise that Gillard continues to shower on Klein’s school reporting model.

Trevor Cobbold

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