School research shows Labor fails our children, says Lee

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A new analysis of NAPLAN data in ACT schools shows the Labor government is failing Canberra students, says Opposition education spokesperson Elizabeth Lee.   

Elizabeth Lee

An ANU analysis of NAPLAN data from 2012-16 has found the academic performance of Canberra students was falling behind students in comparable schools in literacy and numeracy, across every socioeconomic group. The researchers say the data analysis shows ACT school students are several months, sometimes years, behind their peers in writing and numeracy.

“The report confirms concerns about academic performance previously raised by the auditor-general but ignored by the government,” says Ms Lee.

“It is evident that there is only one reason why Education Minister Yvette Berry wants to do away with NAPLAN, and that’s because it is a damning indictment of her own government’s performance.

“Instead of seeking to get to the heart of what we can do to achieve excellence in our schools, the Education Minister has disgraced herself by campaigning on a national scale to discredit NAPLAN.

“Recently, Ms Berry announced the government’s education strategy with great fanfare, but failed to address the significant issues of underperformance in our schools or what the government will do about it.

 “Clearly, ACT Labor is more about saving face than strengthening academic outcomes for our children. Parents have every right to be concerned about this.”

Researchers from the ANU School of Law studied NAPLAN results from 2012-2016 for ACT schools and compared it to the same data for equivalent schools in the same socio-economic profile.

Lead author Prof Andrew Macintosh says the results were “alarming”.

“The analysis showed ACT schools – both government and non-government – are being outperformed by comparable schools in other jurisdictions in writing and numeracy across all age brackets,” Prof Macintosh says.

“This research demonstrates, once again, that learning outcomes are not solely linked to resourcing. The ACT has some of the best resourced schools in the country but their students are still underperforming.”

The research shows more than 75 per cent of ACT government schools had more than 66 per cent of their results below the equivalent results of statistically similar schools. The results were similar for ACT non-government schools, with 70 per cent having 66 per cent or more of their average results below those of their equivalent schools around the country.

Prof Macintosh and resarch partner Debra Wilkinson said the ACT government should lead the way in trialling alternative teaching methods to improve student outcomes, and in demonstrating how NAPLAN data can be used more effectively to inform decision-making by policymakers and schools.

“At the 2016 election, the ACT Labor government promised to undertake a trial of teacher-led approaches in ACT schools. It is time for that trial to get underway, and for the ACT government to take this opportunity to engage with the government and non-government school sectors to demonstrate how NAPLAN can be used more effectively to improve outcomes.”

The research paper, “Academic Underperformance in ACT Schools: An analysis of ACT school performance in NAPLAN over the period 2012-2016” is available here.




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