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UAI scores out — media complains about transparency

By Kerces 22 December 2007 6

This year’s UAI scores were released this week and one Patrick Horsley from Radford scored the ACT’s only perfect 100.

Congratulations to him and all that.

However, the interesting thing I took from that story, and this other one also by Emma Macdonald, is that the Board of Senior Secondary Studies appears to be making it harder for parents to pick where to send their kids if they want good academic performance.

Apparently the BSSS has stopped issuing useful statistics and is only giving the median score for each school’s UAIs. They used to provide the full spread of statistics, which gave a more meaningful basis for comparing a school’s students’ performance year to year.

However, Opposition education spokeswoman Vicki Dunne said she did not think one should be comparing year-to-year statistics because “every cohort of students is different and some years are great and some years are not”.

She also said, “Parents should think most about which school would suit their child and not look at complex raw numbers.”

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UAI scores out — media complains about transparency
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GnT 9:00 am 23 Dec 07

As I said, teaching quality clearly impacts on the outcomes students achieve. But it is not the only factor, and probably not even the most important, making any direct link between students’ scores and teaching quality meaningless.

VicePope 11:13 pm 22 Dec 07

The raw numbers tend to get the headlines, but they are pretty meaningless. Some colleges make a point of grabbing the available talent, and some go broad and some get left with relatively less able students. The first group strengthen themselves and (relatively) weaken every other school. Some colleges are relaxed about marginal students doing tertiary courses and some are not. The first group will have lower averages and may degrade the performance of their top group. Some focus on large scale accredited/vocational populations and they probably can’t put resources into sustained academic excellence.

If we knew (somehow) what was the quality going in to each college at the beginning of year 11, it might be possible to work out which of them are simply grooming the already talented and which are making their students do better.

cranky 10:37 pm 22 Dec 07

Can you, hand on heart, state that there is no longer term ranking of colleges in the local education system? That the yearly results achieved by the various colleges are random, and can change up to 100% from year to year dependent on the factors you have listed above?

I wish every college to achieve top marks for every student.

But please bear with me when I find a concerted effort is made to make comparisons dificult, with the apparent objective of removing any question of competence by the teaching staff from the equation.

GnT 8:38 pm 22 Dec 07

Teaching talent is not constant. Staff change every year, and most teaching staff in the ACT are required to chnage schools after a number of years.

Students’ results are not directly indicative of quality of teaching. Sure, good teachers can have a positive influence on students’ achievement, but other factors (parents, peers, socio-economic background) also come into play.

cranky 5:46 pm 22 Dec 07

I imagine that any ranking of these colleges is a fairly good indication of the quality of teaching. As indicated by Vicki Dunn, students change. The constant is the teaching talent.

The Teacher’s union of course insist that all teachers are created not only equal, but exemplary, and therefore any ranking of school results is to be totally dismissed.

Unfortunately our local council agrees with them.

GnT 5:06 pm 22 Dec 07

I can’t believe I agree with Vicki Dunne for once!

There is a lot more to indicate how your child is going to perform at a particular school than how high the UAIs are.

BTW, Patrick seems like a well-rounded kid: “Patrick is taking a year off and plans to work as a waiter to save money until July when he flies to South America to work as a volunteer with the Columbia Kids Community Service Project.”

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