Fears school rankings fail test

RANKING of all schools in NSW based on a single student test has frustrated educators, who say the move doesn’t represent what education is all about.

North Coast schools had mixed results based on the narrow ranking, as published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School at Woodburn scored among the top 48 in the State. But down the road at Coraki Public, the situation differed with the school ranked among the lowest at number 986.

If parents took account of a mathematical formula that tried to take into account a school’s socio-economic situation, the schools’ rankings become much closer.

But educators are concerned confusing school scores will only lead to frustration and disappointment.

Broadwater Public School principal Stephen Curtin, who presides over 35 students, said the test at the centre of the schools ranking controversy, the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), was designed as a tool for teachers to guide future teaching and learning, and not for creating an order of rank.

“The NAPLAN provides good information for teachers, but it does concern me what the media does with these results,” he said.

Mr Curtin pointed out the test was created only for years 3 and 5 in primary school, and years 7 and 9 in high school.

“It doesn’t create an accurate picture,” he said.

“It is only one test on one day of the year.”

West Ballina’s Emmanuel Anglican College K-12 principal, Heidi O’Brien, was pleased her high school scored 113 in the State.

But she tempered her enthusiasm, saying the test failed to ‘show all the other things that education is about’.

“There is so much more than one test,” she said.

“It doesn’t give an indication of improvement, especially in disadvantaged schools.”

Mrs O’Brien’s husband John, the K-12 principal of Cape Byron Steiner School, echoed his wife’s concerns, saying ‘schools are much more rich and broad than NAPLAN results’.

He explained his primary school ranking of 784, saying his Year 3 students were much less test ready compared with other students their age, simply because of the teaching methods involved in Steiner education.

The Steiner school’s secondary results were markedly improved, with a ranking of 221.


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