Transparency and Equity at MySchool.
Just over ten years ago now, in the face of the Howard Government’s favouring of private education, I wrote a paper for a little in-house journal which discussed the problems inherent in league tables and their effects on educational, and thus social, equity. Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now under a Labor Government, the same fights are being fought, this time, though, in the name of accountability rather than choice.
As you are probably aware, the government has today launched its MySchool website amid much controversy: it gives data that can enable the ranking of schools due to its publication of, among other things, national NAPLAN test results.
If you want to know why the publication of these results is so problematic, take a look at this paper by Professor Alan Reid, presented to the 2009 Australian Curriculum Studies Association National Biennial Conference in Canberra in October. He critiques the whole of the Rudd Government’s “Education Revolution” so, unless you are interested, it is not necessary to read the whole article, just go down to the section headed “Theme 5 of the ‘Education Revolution’: Accountability” starting on page 19 of the document. Professor Reid puts it far more efficiently than I managed all those years ago, with the added advantage that his paper is reasonably up-to-date (it was delivered before the final details of the website reporting were known).
If you are still interested, there is plenty of educational literature out there on both equity and quality in education. The issues are complex and long-standing. Schools do not stand separate from the rest of society and there are no quick fixes. The ultimate results of the government’s moves towards ranking schools will probably depend on how we value equality, as a nation, as governments, and as individuals.