MY Schools website data released this week shows Orange schools are falling behind the national average for literacy and numeracy but Orange principals believe the data is not accurate on it’s own and lacks important variables like context.
Out of 16 schools nine recorded results from NAPLAN testing last year that were below the national average for reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation and numeracy.
Yet four schools received marks that were higher than average in all four areas, while another three were higher in one or more of the categories.
The My Schools website is a government website that provides information about Australian schools from students in years 3,5, 7 and 9.
Orange Anglican Grammar principal Len Elliot said the data was invaluable when it comes to compiling subject choices for the future but he has serious reservations about the quality of the data if it was used by parents to choose a school.
“For example at our school we know that our year 9s haven’t done that well in grammar but that means we can add an elective course next year and encourage those students into it,” he said.
“It doesn’t take into account the whole student, and things like social learning and sport and community work, for literacy and numeracy NAPLAN is great but for everything else it doesn’t come close.”
Kinross principal Brian Kennelly said he believed the data was useful to the individual school but does not believe the data can be used to compare schools.
“The socio-economic level of students is only one small measure,” he said.
“It’s not fair to put marks down and compare school to school because each year there is going to be a different intake of students, sometimes the student has only been at the school for three or four months before the NAPLAN test is taken.”
Orange Christian School principal Melissa Brown said the data was great for transparency but questioned whether it should be made publicly available considering smaller schools might only have two or three students in a particular year.
She said students could be absent on the day of testing and that would severely impact the results for smaller schools.
“You might be looking at a trend but really you’re only looking at one or two students,” she said.
James Sheahan Catholic High School principal Mark Pauschmann said the new-look website was easier to navigate but warned the information was only a snapshot in the life of a student.
“In an age of transparency it is a good attempt at trying to do that but a snapshot can distort the figures.”
For more My Schools analysis see tomorrow’s Central Western Daily.