The Scourge of School League Tables


I was stunned to see that the Canberra Times published its own league table about ACT Schools.  I mean I was sure that a respectable rag like the CT would know better than to engage in a cheap stunt like this


Sadly I was wrong.


Thankfully Trevor Cobbold of Save our Schools fame has stepped in and provided a telling commentary here Save Our Schools Canberra: The Whackiness of School League Tables


The table shows the following


  1. That the data from NAPLAN at the schools level is completely meaningless and unreliable at least when it comes to drawing any conclusions about school or teacher quality.
  2. Across year groups, across the disciplines, and across the independent, Catholic and government sectors, schools are jumping around all over the place!


The simple fact is that student cohorts change every year. And the smaller the school, the greater the chance of wild fluctuations.


You see NAPLAN was never ever designed to be reliable and valid at the individual school level  – never.  It is/was designed a population measure and at that level and that level only it is quite reliable and useful.  At the school level – not so much


The decision to provide NAPLAN results at the school level is a political decision and there is no evidence that the results are valid at this level – they were not intended to be used in this way.


According to Cobbold in the ACT In Year 3 writing, one school went from 1st last year to 66th this year, whilst in Year 3 grammar another school went from 81st to 4th!


These are not aberrations, as similarly spectacular rises and falls appear throughout the tables.


So what if anything d these league table results tell us:


“what really matters – attracting and retaining the best in teaching, giving schools and systems the support they need to become hubs of collaborative professional learning, and improving equity by targeting resources to students who need extra assistance, as recommended by the Gonski report into school funding”.




It really is as simple at that



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