I’ve been looking through the Australian government’s new My School website, which shows the graded performance of schools around the country, both public and private in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, grammar/punctuation and numeracy.
After looking at all the schools I attended, and those that my sister attended that I didn’t, there seems to be a fairly consistent pattern.
Grade 7 seems to have the worst marks in general, and that seems to improve across the schools I looked at by grade 9. Of course, I can only look at 2 years worth of data, so I can’t really compare the same students as yet, but that does seem to be a consistent pattern across the two years.
Note that I only looked at 1 primary school as myself and my siblings both went to the same school for primary, so my thoughts here are more in relation to high schools.
It seems to me that the data currently shown is not actually very relevant, or useful for choosing a high school. The reason I say this is because it seems to me that the performance of the high school is directly affected by the primary school. It is my opinion that grade 12 averages should also be shown. I realise each state marks grade 12 separately, but the only way I can see to really determine anything useful from this information, in relation to a high school, would be to see the grade 12 performance. If a school average improves from grade 7 to grade 9, then it is logical that by grade 12 it should have improved more.
A school that has high performing grade 7 students for example doesn’t, in my opinion, reflect on that school at all, but on the primary school that is feeding most of the students into it. It’s not until the higher grades that the high school’s performance really can be shown, I mean in grade 7, they haven’t really had long at all to help any poorly performing students.
What do you think? I mean I don’t have kids, I’m just looking at it as a bystander, and honestly, I don’t know how relevant that data is without the year 12 results. The year I completed grade 12 which was only 4 years ago now, and the year before, my school was highly ranked in NSW, yet according to the My School data, it’s in general, a below average performing school. That doesn’t seem very consistent to me. How do you know if your high school is just performing well because it has a good primary school feeding it, but then the performance drops in senior years? Or is it well performing in senior years but with a bad feeder school? This just doesn’t tell us.
On another note, I find it quite pathetic that the news anchors and the Education Minister, Julia Gillard, all claim that the site is a huge success and that parents clearly want this information simply because the website received 1.5 million hits and crashed a few times on the day of launch.
In my opinion that simply indicates poor planning on the IT side. As for the views, there is no way to prove they were all parents, I’m not after all and I ran 10-20 searches on the day it went live. There are going to be numerous teachers looking at it to see how the school they teach at is performing, there are going to be ex-students curious to see how their school is officially performing and then students currently attending schools having a look at their school out of curiousity.
I in all sincerity do not believe it is as much of a success as the minister and media would make it out to be. It seems to me that it is more of a novelty for students and ex-students than anything else, with just enough information to appeal to parents, though I don’t believe it is enough information to truly make an informed decision.
I just had a thought though, the information is perfect for private schools. In my experience in rural areas, the public schools seem to outperform the private schools in grade 12, however the information on the My School website indicates that the private schools are better performing than the public schools. It makes me wonder if perhaps there has been a bit of a push from the private sector to put this information out there to encourage enrollments in their schools rather than public schools. Just a thought.