My School website fails the grade

TECHNICAL glitches troubled the start-up of the Federal Government’s My School website yesterday after its launch in the early hours of the morning and it was closed for most of the day.

My School is a national school performance website aimed at giving parents information about 10,000 Australian schools.

The rankings are based on data from the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy tests from the past two years of students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

But the whole concept of publishing ‘grades’ for schools has come under fire.

The principal of Mullumbimby High School, Ian Graham, said he had concerns about the merits of the website.

“The quality of the data is wanting,” he said. It was too general and could lead people to make choices based on inadequate information.

“It also doesn’t have gross data, which shows the progress of students through their testing points – which has a lot to do with measuring how a school performs,” Mr Graham said.

The method was also ‘a bit reductionist’, because it was based on literacy and numeracy tests, he said.

“While these are of course very important, they are only one part of what contributes to a school’s worth,” he said.

One parent, whose son is in Year 9 at Xavier Catholic College Ballina, agreed.

“There are many factors that can’t be measured by statistics, such as a school’s culture and how it feels when you go there,” the parent said.

The Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage number, which ranked a school’s ‘disadvantage’, also celebrated statistical analysis at the expense of humanity, she said

However, Anne Wareing, with one son in Year 9 at Mullum High and another in Year 3 at Coorabell, was keen to access the site. She was ‘very curious’ to see what was there, she said.

But Mrs Wareing didn’t think the website would change her mind about her sons’ schools.


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