Labor’s $100 000 reward for schools which most improve their results will encourage them to cheat and rort their results, poach high achieving students from each other and discriminate against other students says Save Our Schools, a public education advocacy group.
SOS national convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that the scheme will be another huge waste of money that could be better used to fund schools with high student learning needs rather than dissipated in fruitless and destructive competition between schools.
“Gillard’s reward scheme is an $88 million annual competition to see which schools can poach, rort and cheat more than others.
“Schools will have a large financial incentive to enrol more high achieving students and not enrol low achieving students. The easiest way for schools to improve their performance will be to replace low achieving students with those who generate better test results. They can do this by ‘creaming off’ high achieving students from other schools and denying entry to low achieving students.
“It will encourage increased discrimination against students with disabilities, students with limited English, Indigenous students and students from low income families. Schools vying for the money will deny entry to these students or palm them off to other schools.
“Schools have a large financial incentive to ‘rort the system’ by encouraging low achievers to stay at home on test days. We have already seen evidence of this in the last round of NAPLAN tests. This new scheme will lead to more rorting.
“Cheating is another easy way for schools to manipulate their results to make it appear as if they are improving performance. Teachers will be under pressure to assist students in tests or to change answers as was also seen during the last NAPLAN tests.”
Mr. Cobbold said the reward scheme is yet another clone of the failed New York City school improvement model implemented by Julia Gillard’s mentor and hero, Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein.
“This scheme will lead to illusory gains in student achievement, just as it has in New York
“Last month, the New York bubble burst. Its amazing test score gains over the past four years under Klein were shown to be a gigantic fraud. Test results plummeted this year following the introduction of new standards by the state education department in response to public pressure and an independent report from a Harvard University testing expert that revealed New York’s test scores were highly inflated.
“Under Klein, student scores on standardized tests are used to decide which teachers receive bonuses, and how big those bonuses are; which principals receive bonuses, and how big those bonuses are; which students are required to repeat a year; which students are required to attend summer school; which teachers are first laid off; which teachers are fired; which teachers are rated effective or ineffective; and which schools are closed down.
“All this was done on the basis of phony results. This is where Julia Gillard is taking Australia in her mistaken penchant to use test results to reward and punish schools and their teachers and principals.”
Mr. Cobbold said that the reward will distract schools from making genuine improvements in literacy and numeracy.
“It will lead to even more intensive test preparation in schools, which is happening because of My School. More time will be spent on practising for tests at the expense of deeper learning and understanding and at the expense of subjects that are not tested such as science, history, social studies, languages, arts and music.
“Ms. Gillard would do better to put the $88 million a year directly into government schools where there are high levels of student learning need. More high qualified teachers, additional support staff and learning resources would make a real difference to these schools.”