Commentary

My school and yours: the disappearing achievers

12 Feb 2014
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A new analysis of schools data shows why we mustn’t walk away from the promise of Gonski.

I NEVER thought I’d say this, but I’ve become a fan of the My School website. You’ll remember My School: the federal government launched it with great hype in 2010, promising greater school transparency and responsiveness, and it garnered millions of hits from the public. Alas, the first website was almost fraudulent in its claims, but recent versions show real promise – and it could get even better if it begins to use a greater variety of school achievement measures.

The winning feature of My School is not so much the way it enables accurate comparisons between individual schools – it doesn’t. But the data behind the site, covering such things as school size, funding, enrolment composition and student attendance, really do allow us to see how groups of schools compare, and how they may be changing over time. The most valuable feature is the measure of the socio-educational make-up of each school’s enrolment, the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, or ICSEA. When we need to track the way our schools are progressing, or regressing, this measure is gold.

This year we’ll see the launch of My School version 5.0, which will allow us to track changes over time on measures including enrolments, social make-up and funding. But we can already use data from My School alongside other long-run information to find out more about schools, test hypotheses, track trends and paint future scenarios…

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2014
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