A new study into principals’ responses to the introduction of test score reporting via the Federal Government’s MySchool website has found that most schools are ignoring the data.
The website, launched in 2010 by the Gillard Government and administered by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) allows parents and students to search and compare more than 10,000 Australian schools.
However, according to a newly-released academic paper by the Economic Record titled: ‘Do School Principals Respond to Increased Public Scrutiny?’ most schools are largely ignoring the data on their students’ performance.
The survey of 1,000 principals, conducted in 2009 before the website’s launch, and later in 2012, found that 67% consider MySchool’s effect to be neutral. Interestingly, 24% of principals said the impact of MySchool has been negative.
“One potential objective of MySchool is to incentivise leaders of school performing poorly on NAPLAN tests to change policies and practices to boost student performance on those tests,” Michael Coelli, the study’s lead author and an economics lecturer at the University of Melbourne, told The Educator.
“We observe some responses consistent with that objective, but not many.”
Coelli added that given the concerns raised by principal and teacher groups regarding the introduction of MySchool, it was not too surprising that some school leaders responded negatively.
“What was interesting, but also not particularly surprising, is that schools that were identified as performing well below similar schools were more likely to respond negatively,” he said.
Andrew Pierpoint, president of the Australian Secondary Principals Association (ASPA) said he was not surprised by the results.
“What principals find with MySchool is that a lot of the data, from the school’s point of view, is inaccurate and not meaningful in terms of why a parent sends their child to a school,” Pierpoint told The Educator.
“There are a lot of more other important parameters that we feel are important about education, rather than how much money is in the bank and NAPLAN performance – and that view has not changed since MySchool was created.”
Pierpoint said that in his 20 years as a principal, he said he has never had a parent approach him to inquire about his school’s NAPLAN results.
“Parents ask about what the school’s culture is like, what the school is doing about bullying, how bright kids are being encouraged and how struggling students are being supported.”