I have been a strong supporter of the teachers union in Australia. However there is one issue that we have never agreed on:-comparative data on schools performance. I can recall many debates since the early 1990's with the union refusing to accept the need for data to support parents decisions on where to send there kids, to distribute remedial funding and so on.
Fast forward to this week with the union now signalling that it will be banning the next NAPLAN test cycle in May. NAPLAN is far from a perfect set of measures. However there is powerful evidence of the fundamental importance of basic literacy and numeracy in establishing a successful foundation for a students learning career. There will be more comprehensive assessment processes in future, such as being generated by the work of the international '21st century assessment' project. I am also aware of some exciting ideas being tossed around inside ACARA. But none of this is likely to come on stream for 3-5years.
The interest shown by parents and the general public in myschool has been huge. Parents have always been hungry for information to help them determine where to send there children to school. Prior to myschool I for one have felt totally inadequate when asked for advice on school options.
Lets not pretend that myschool data is now the only determinant. However it is making an impact.Likewise the taxpayer needs greater assurance that the huge amount of funding being applied to schools is having the desired impact.
Myschool for the first time attempts to provide a 'value added' comparison not just results that can be traced to school location and student selection 'policies' Its not perfect but a great place to start.
The union may or may not win this latest battle but they will lose the war unless they engage far more effectively in the pursuit of more appropriate assessment tools.