New League Table Exposes Hollow Assurances

A proposed new league table of Australian schools has exposed government assurances on the issue as hollow, Save Our Schools (SOS) said today.

SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, called for an inquiry into the harm caused by league tables.

“It is clear that Education Ministers cannot ensure that school results will not be misused.

“While the ranking is not yet available, the proposed Australian Schools Index is further proof that league tables are inevitable as a result of the Federal Government’s decision to publish school results. Already, simplistic league tables have been published by the Hobart Mercury and the Brisbane Courier-Mail as well as on the Better Education Australia website.

“The Federal Education Minister claims to be opposed to ‘simplistic’ league tables but she is providing the information that enables them to be produced. The proposed Australian Schools Index shows that anyone will be able to construct league tables of school results.

“Julia Gillard and state and territory education ministers have proved themselves as able stand-ins for the ‘Hollowmen’. All they have said on league tables stands exposed as hollow rhetoric and hollow assurances.

“The new league table shows that state and territory education ministers have not understood what they signed on to. For example, the ACT Education Minister, Andrew Barr, told the Canberra community in May that fears of league tables were “unfounded”. His assurance has already proved to be false.

Mr. Cobbold said that there are serious questions around the new ranking system.

“The South Australian Education Department has issued a warning that the company has used unauthorised information about schools on its website. It says that the assessment process is unclear and has not been accepted as a method of assessing its schools.

“Parents should be extremely wary of the new Australian Schools Index.

“It is the very worst kind of league table possible. It gives a single score ranking to schools combining a range of school characteristics and features that bear no necessary relation to school quality. For example, its rating system includes a score on school facilities including swimming pools and tennis courts.

“The result will be an arbitrary ranking system that will mislead about education quality. It seems designed to give an exemplary rating to the richest schools.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the new league table highlights the need for governments to assess the potential harm of league tables before it was too late.

“The evidence of the harm done to education by publishing school results and league tables is overwhelming.

“Australian governments should subject school performance reporting and league tables to the transparency test they want to apply to schools. They should initiate a parliamentary or independent inquiry into the potential harms and benefits.

“If governments fail to heed this, the only recourse for parents and teachers is to boycott the national tests next year.”

15 July 2009

Contact: Trevor Cobbold 0410 121 640 (m)

For more information on league tables

Australian Schools Index – Some Background

The Australian Schools Index website

The company behind the ASI is PIE Limited, an Australian unlisted public company. More information

PIE’s software development centre is located in Vizag, India. More inormation

The description of the ranking system to be used for the ASI has been taken off the website in the last couple of days. However, it is still available on the New Zealand Schools Index site

School Rankings

The ASI and NZSI evaluate schools, rate them across specific categories and provide a cumulative ranking.

Each school is rated across a band of five elements. They are:
1. School information
2. School facilities
3. Organisation, Structure and Governance
4. Curriculum and Academic Results
5. General and Community

Each of these five elements is further sub-classified. For example:
Facilities: Administration building, school class-rooms, library, science & arts facilities, sports facilities (gym, swimming pool, tennis courts, playing fields.

Each of the five band scores is accumulated and a specific score is calculated. This score is ranked in order of highest to lowest and given an absolute ranking e.g. highest score = 1st ranking.

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