League Tables

The Herald reports:

Australian parents yesterday overwhelmed a new federal school rating website, causing it to crash as they ignored teachers’ warnings that they would be misled by data that matched literacy and numeracy with social indicators.

As repairs were made to myschool.edu.au – a site designed to take 2350 hits a second – Education Minister Julia Gillard said My School’s problems had confirmed that parents wanted to be able to compare the performance of schools across the country.

Parents care about the quality of their kids education – this is no surprise.

But opponents continued to criticise the site, warning that it would lead to inaccurate “” that would hit struggling schools in disadvantaged areas.

The Australian Education Union, which represents the nation’s public school teachers, will refuse to do the next round of national testing that provides the raw data for the system unless the Government ensures it does not lead to discriminatory tables.

“Teachers, parents and principals are united in their opposition to damaging league tables which rank schools according to their test results,” New South Wales Teachers Federation president Bob Lipscombe warned before the site went online.

This was introduced by a Labor Government. It is nice to have a labour party that is not captured by the union movement.

The reforms in NZ are more modest. There will be no Government run database of school statistics (even though I think there should be). Any league tables will be because media organisations have gained infromation under the Official Information Act.

NZ Labour wants to amend the OIA so that educational results from schools are more tightly restricted than security and defence information. The public need to be protected from themselves!

In the Press we read:

League tables that rate schools’ performances are inevitable once are introduced, a teachers’ union says.

Three union groups raised fresh fears yesterday that the new national standards will lead to league tables. Education Minister Anne Tolley said she was waiting for answers from a working party set up to look at the matter.

The fear of league tables is what lies at the heart of the unions opposition.

Frankly they need to get over themselves and understand the realities of the Internet age.

First of all there have always been league tables of sorts. For decades newspapers publishes tables of pass marks in School Cert, or number of A bursaries or whatever. Sure, the tables may be misleading, but the answer is not to ban information, but to counter it with more information. We spend billions of dollars on our schools and teachers and parents should be able to access information on said schools.

There are other so called league tables that the media could publish. The number of suspensions. The average experience level of teachers. The proportion of students who stay on to seventh form. The level of “donation” requested. Do the unions want all information on schools made secret?

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