Testing and Schools

Posted: January 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

In Australia recently, the Government has introduced a Website enabling like schools to be compared.

 

The first question to ask, of course, is why only LIKE schools are being compared.

And I can think of only two possible answers:

 

“Well, it wouldn’t be fair otherwise. “

 

Or

 

“Of course we know that schools in a better socio-economic demographic will perform better.”

 

Remembering that it’s politicians driving this initiative, so I think only the naïve will believe that they’re concerned with fairness here.  Of course, some may try to argue that if we didn’t eliminate the socio-economic differences, then the whole league table thing – sorry, not a league table, no-one should be using it as a league table – the whole comparison thing wouldn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know.

 

Which, of course, is the point.  If the public can be convinced to nitpick over minor differences between School X and School Y, then the Government never has to address the larger issue of the enormous gulf between both schools and Schools A and B.

 

I don’t deny that there are underperforming schools in Australia, but the idea that a simple test will pick them up is simplistic and dangerous.  In a discussion I had with an assistant principal from a “top” government school, there was a concern expressed at the lack of a rigorous, engaging curriculum that challenged the top students.  “We still keep getting good results, but trying to convince anybody here that we might just need better results is nearly impossible!”

 

Will a secondary college whose Year 7 data is below par be judged for it, or will the feeder primary schools be held responsible?

 

Oh I know, it’s not punitive.  It’ll be to help underperforming schools.  They can go to the better schools and learn from what they’re doing.  And the better schools will be so much happier to share their expertise than before they were competing.  Oh, I keep forgetting, it’s not a competition.

 As for performance pay, well, I guess that’s not a competition either…

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