A Cautionary Tale from New York on High Stakes Testing

Lectures by US Professor of Education, David Hursh, in Melbourne and Sydney last month described the rise of market-based education policies in New York State. He showed that over the last twenty years, control over education policy has shifted from the local level to the state and federal levels.

As a result, he said, unelected and unaccountable entrepreneurs and corporations dominate curricular and assessment decisions. Students and teachers are increasingly assessed by tests that are intended to portray them as failures. However, parents, students, educators and community members are fighting back to regain control over education. Continue reading “A Cautionary Tale from New York on High Stakes Testing”

Greater Funding Equity Increases Student Results

New research by the Boston Consulting Group shows that increased funding for low income students increases their reading and mathematics results. It also shows that needs-based funding can improve results for all students, whether from low-income or high-income families. The research contradicts claims that there is no correlation between school expenditure and outcomes. Continue reading “Greater Funding Equity Increases Student Results”

Public Schools in the Top Performing Countries Have Little Autonomy in Budgeting and Staffing

Australia’s approach to school autonomy in budgeting and staffing is at odds with the latest results from the OECD’s Programme for International Assessments (PISA). An OECD report on PISA 2012 shows that public schools in the top performing countries generally have little autonomy in budgeting and staffing but considerable autonomy over curriculum and assessment. Strangely, however, the Australian Government is intent on devolving greater responsibility over school budgets and staffing to principals rather than responsibility for curriculum and assessment. Continue reading “Public Schools in the Top Performing Countries Have Little Autonomy in Budgeting and Staffing”

Pyne’s Opportunistic Support of States’ Rights Has Sabotaged Gonski

The Federal Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, has re-affirmed that state and territory governments will not be required to put in additional funding for schools as agreed under the national agreements signed with the previous Labor Government. He said yesterday that he does not want to “infantilise the states”.

Last December Pyne clearly signalled to the original signatory states that they do not have to keep to the conditions they signed up for to increase school funding. He said the Government “will not be requiring them to make contributions” and whether they increase funding or not is “a matter for those sovereign jurisdictions”. The Government’s new agreement with the Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory governments does not require them to increase funding for schools.

This effectively sabotages the Gonski funding plan. State and territory governments will not be required to increase their funding and there is no guarantee that they will pass the Federal funding increase over the next four years. They may substitute it for their own funding or even cut their funding. Continue reading “Pyne’s Opportunistic Support of States’ Rights Has Sabotaged Gonski”

The Prime Minister Should Fully Implement Gonksi to Improve Indigenous Education

If the Prime Minister is serious about his “passionate” commitment to improving Indigenous education, he should stop the sabotage of the Gonksi funding model and implement it in full. Gonksi is fundamental to reducing the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school outcomes. Continue reading “The Prime Minister Should Fully Implement Gonksi to Improve Indigenous Education”

Northern Territory Review of Indigenous Education

I have just finished reading Bruce Wilson’s Draft Independent Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory and I am impressed and dismayed.

I am impressed because this is the first time I have seen a report on the NT Department of Education (DoE) website that notes the systemic failure of ‘bush schools’ in the NT and the devastating consequences of this. This report has placed the urgency of this situation squarely on the public agenda and this is important. I am impressed because he has been willing to question the business-as-usual assumption that the answer must be to keep doing what we do, but to do it better.

His recommendations about centralising all remote indigenous secondary education into urban and regional centres took me completely by surprise and I am still considering my response to this.

But I am also dismayed. Wilson has plenty to say about funding and resourcing but at no time in this report does he raise the underfunding of NT remote schools. Continue reading “Northern Territory Review of Indigenous Education”

More Untruths by Pyne on Independent Public Schools

It seems that the Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, is either incapable of getting his facts straight or he is deliberately misleading the public about his plan for independent public schools.

Three governments have now rebuffed his claim that all governments except South Australia have signed on to his proposal. The NSW, Tasmanian and ACT governments say that they have not signed up. As well, the Liberal opposition in Tasmania says that if elected in next month’s election it will not introduce independent public schools. Continue reading “More Untruths by Pyne on Independent Public Schools”

Pyne Misleads the Public on School Autonomy Yet Again

The Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, is misleading the public yet again about the facts on the effects of school autonomy. The evidence he cites in support of creating more independent public schools is highly selective and misleading and completely ignores the latest evidence from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Continue reading “Pyne Misleads the Public on School Autonomy Yet Again”