Monday, January 25, 2010

School League Tables Spark Stoush

It's no secret that there is no love lost between the Deputy PM and Education Mnister, Julia Gillard, and the teacher unions. The industrial action by the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union just 3 days before the 2007 Federal election didn't help. Members of her staff were still smarting on election night even after the result was known.

The latest bad blood is about the so-called "school league tables". The government website starts on Thursday:

A SHOWDOWN is looming between the Federal Government and teachers over the publication of information on the nation's more than 10,000 schools that will allow the creation of so-called league tables.

From Thursday, the My School website will detail - among other things - individual schools' attendance and retention rates, an index of disadvantage, and results in national numeracy and literacy tests.
Showdown between Gillard, teachers looming over schools website

Industrial action has been threatened by the AEU:
Public school teachers at an Australian Education Union meeting have voted unanimously to boycott national literacy and numeracy tests unless the Government changes its plans to publish the results online.
Teachers vote to boycott school tests
Meanwhile principals have questioned the effectiveness of the disadvantaged rating system:
The International Confederation of School Principals says there is no evidence to suggest rating schools will help those that are disadvantaged.

...The confederation's Australian-based executive secretary, Ted Brierley, says the system has failed in England and the United States.

"The problem is, very rarely, if ever, has funds ever been generated in sufficient quantities to enable any improvements to occur in those schools," he said.
School disadvantage ratings system 'just doesn't work'
Julia is unmoved by threats of a boycott:
Education Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to take action to ensure national literacy and numeracy exams go ahead if teachers boycott the testing.
Gillard warns teachers over tests
My view after three decades teaching in schools is that the energy that goes into the testing, teaching to the tests and engaging in unhealthy competition between schools, would be much better spent on teaching and learning. During our years in Arnhem Land, the waste of valuable time and resources going into the testing regime in remote indigenous schools was disgraceful.

The Opposition are happy to wedge the ALP and its teacher constituency by opposing a scheme similar to ones they have proposed in the past.

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