18 March 2022

How Canberra schools fared in NAPLAN

| Lottie Twyford
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School students

The ACT is on par with the rest of the country as significant performance gaps remain for Indigenous students. Photo: File.

It’s been a while since ACT schools topped the nation in NAPLAN, but a closer inspection of individual school test results shows the overwhelming majority of Canberra’s students are progressing at similar rates to their peers from similar backgrounds.

In 2020, the Australian Curriculum Reporting and Assessment Authority (ACARA) updated its My Schools website, dumping school-by-school comparisons to instead focus on how schools are progressing compared with similar students across Australia.

It’s now possible to compare students’ progress (year three to five, five to seven, or seven to nine results) with the progress of students from a similar background.

It also provides information about a school’s test participation rates.

This year, comparisons are being made between 2019 and 2021 results as NAPLAN was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

READ ALSO NAPLAN: ACT’s fall from grace continues amidst worrying national performance gaps

Every student has an Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) which is based on factors such as family characteristics (parental education, parental non-school education and occupation) and school (location and socio-economic background of the students it serves).

An ICSEA value can also be calculated for a school, with the average value being 1000. A higher ICSEA – up to 1200 – means the school has a high socio-educational advantage.

A total of 136 schools in the Territory are listed on the My Schools website, but not all of these have data provided. Special schools, early childhood schools (K-2) and colleges are excluded.

In total, data is provided for 115 schools and the majority have ICSEA values above 1000.

An independent review by the Grattan Institute in 2018 found the ACT was the country’s worst-performing jurisdiction when social and economic advantage were taken into account.

But the recent NAPLAN data suggests this may not be true as most students progress between years three and five and seven and nine in reading, writing and numeracy ‘close to’ the performance of their peers.

READ ALSO NAPLAN warning bells should not go unheeded

One over-performing school was Orana Steiner School, where students achieved ‘well above’ the national average for progress between year three and year five in all three categories of reading, writing and numeracy.

However, the participation rate for Orana Steiner was well below the national average of 95 per cent. Only 73 per cent of Orana Steiner students participated in NAPLAN.

In the secondary years, the gap has widened and students’ progress between years seven and nine had moved close to the national average, rather than well above.

In numeracy, ACT students fall behind their peers.

The following secondary schools all recorded progress rates below that of their peers in numeracy when comparing progress from year seven to year nine results: University of Canberra High School Kaleen, Saint John Paul II College, Saint Francis Xavier College, Mount Stromlo High, Lyneham High School and Campbell High School.

Multiple primary schools also record student progress that was lower than their similar peers (comparison of year three to five results). These were Theodore, Saint Francis of Assisi, Palmerston, Mount Rogers, Maribyrnong Primary, Margeret Hendry, Holy Family, Gold Creek, Fraser, Amaroo, Weetangera, Majura, Hughes, Farrer, Charles Weston, Chapman Primary, Canberra Grammar, Aranda and Brindabella Christian School.

READ ALSO Queanbeyan High School backflips on controversial decision to move to part-time in-person learning

Bonython, Gowrie, Fadden, Taqwa School, Latham, Rosary Primary School and St Michael’s Primary School performed ‘well below’ their peers when comparing student progress between years three and five.

At the time the changes to the reporting of data were announced in 2020, many experts said it would allow for a fairer comparison and also help schools demonstrate how they were helping their students progress.

However, ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry said it would lead to “flawed” data for the ACT as many parents in the ACT held public service jobs.

She’s repeatedly pushed for reform of the system which she said creates anxiety for students and teachers and can stigmatise lower-performing schools.

But the Opposition wants an independent review into the Territory’s education system instead.

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Tom Worthington4:57 pm 18 Mar 22

If you want to do well at school, select your parents carefully, as the school and teacher have very little to do with it. 😉

Mansell Industries7:40 am 18 Mar 22

I checked the NAPLAN results for 27 public primary schools in the south of Canberra to see if the school was well above, above, at, below or well below similar students in the rest of the country for both year 3 and year 5 student in the 5 NAPLAN tested areas… 270 data points… And this is what I found.

None of these schools had any area at all where the school’s average NAPLAN scores were well above students with a similar background in the rest of the country. 0 out of 270

Wanniassa Primary had the only two areas where the school’s average NAPLAN scores were above students with a similar background. 2 out of 270.

Of the remaining 268 data points, 70 were well below students with a similar background and 60 were below students with a similar background

Therefore, In 48% of the areas public primary schools in the south of Canberra are below similar students in the rest of the country (26% of which is well below) and less than 1% we are above…

So either what are “similar schools” is wrong, or we have a bigger problem…

This “new” data is a total con job. For years, the my school website had the “bubble” charts that showed your ACT school compared to 30-50 similar/same ICSEA cohort schools, and by tracking the 3-5-7-9 results every second year, you could see the ACT schools falling further back down the cohort.

Then Yvette Berry spat the dummy and threatened to pull the ACT out of the data comparison, so ACARA buckled and withdrew the bubble charts, and just had the raw scores and the improvement data. And even this showed the ACT public system was rubbish.

Now that we’re “post” COVID, magically the ACT data shows there never was any deficit or rubbish ACT performance. So Grattan, ANU, the ACT Auditor General, and the Australia Institute, they ALL got it wrong.

This is garbage, and “old” data that showed how poorly the ACT Gub’mint was at delivering curriculum has clearly been smoothed. Remember when ACT Health was busted twice in three years falsifying KPI data to the feds so that it got the performance funding under the health NPA?

Maybe they all aced tiktok and roblox

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