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Friday, March 07, 2014

Pull the curtains on My School?

I'm no expert on education but there we were thinking the publication of school data on the My School website, now in its fourth year, was a great step forward for transparency and accountability, arming the community as well as policy makers and stakeholders with vital information about at least some performance indicators from all that money spent on school education.

Only to be corrected by the NSW Minister for Education, obviously a great fan of evidence based policy development, who apparently sees no benefits, only egregious impacts:
Mr Piccoli said he supported the continuation of NAPLAN testing but he wanted an end to the publication of its results because of the "unintended consequences" it created. "I've been told a story of a kid in year 3 throwing up on the morning of the NAPLAN test because of the anxiety surrounding the tests," Mr Piccoli said. "This stress never happened when we did Basic Skills testing in NSW because it was simply a diagnostic tool, it wasn't publicised."

My School "provides up-to-date quality data on the performance and resources available to more than 9,500 Australian schools. The site also allows comparisons to be made between schools. We acknowledge the strong interest in the site, as evident in the number of visitors each year to the site – over 1.2 million in 2013.." 

 Australian Information Commissioner Professor John McMillan may have been prescient last year:
realistically, open government can complicate life for government decision makers. Information available on the My School website for example focuses attention on political choices concerning funding and brings forward questions about priorities, comparisons and fair and equitable allocation of resources.

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