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MySchool 2018 reveals most-improved schools

Today, ACARA cautiously released newly user-friendly 2018 MySchool data, revealing, among other things, individual schools’ 2017 NAPLAN performances.

“We know that schools are more than just their NAPLAN results. However, literacy and numeracy are the fundamental skills all our children need to be successful in and beyond school,” CEO Robert Randall said in support of the release.

Though he stressed his agency sought to avoid “unfair comparison” between schools from divergent ICSEA contexts. That’s why details like school type, student and staff population, ICSEA status, and student gender, culture and language categories are co-published alongside a school’s NAPLAN performance.

For example, MySchool shows that 82 per cent of students who attend All Saints Catholic College in Liverpool, Sydney, have a language background other than English. It further details that last year, its students achieved average or above average scores in all NAPLAN categories when compared to similar schools, though they scored below average in numeracy compared to Australian students generally.

To further avoid unfair comparison, media outlets have been banned from assembling school ‘league tables’ based on the data.

ACARA did, however, identify a sample of ‘most improved in NAPLAN’ schools nationwide, some of which “are low-achieving schools”, ACARA’s general manager, Assessment and Reporting, Dr Stanley Rabinowitz advised. “In reading there has been significant improvement … it comes from those schools.”

To earn this credential, schools must have achieved a ‘substantially above average gain’ in NAPLAN reading and/or numeracy scores.

Most-improved schools include:

NSW

Picnic Point High School, Panania (government)

Year 7-9 Numeracy

Rathmines Public School, Rathmines (government)

Year 3-5 Numeracy

Marrickville High School, Marrickville (government)

Year 7-9 Reading

Meadowbank Education Trust School, Oatlands (independent)

Year 3-5 Reading

Good Samaritan Catholic College, Hinchinbrook (Catholic)

Year 7-9 Numeracy

Mountain View Adventist College, Doonside (independent)

Year 7-9 Numeracy

VIC

Ruskin Park Primary School, Croydon (government)

Year 3-5 Reading & Numeracy

Gembrook Primary School, Gembrook (government)

Year 3-5 Reading & Numeracy

Paynesville Primary School, Paynesville (government)

Year 3-5 Reading

WA

Pemberton District High School, Pemberton (government)

Year 7-9 Numeracy

Falcon Primary School, Wannanup (government)

Year 3-5 Reading

SA

Kangaroo Island Community Education, Kingscote (government)

Year 7-9 Reading & Numeracy

St Joseph’s School, Murray Bridge (Catholic)

Year 3-5 Reading

Lucindale Area School, Lucindale (government)

Year 3-5 Numeracy

Pinnacle College – Elizabeth East Campus (independent)

Year 7-9 Numeracy

Samaritan College, Whyalla (Catholic)

Year 7-9 Reading

Caritas College, Port Augusta West (Catholic)

Year 3-5 Reading

Cleve Area School, Cleve (government)

Year 7-9 Numeracy

NT

Leanyer Primary School, Leanyer (government)

Year 3-5 Numeracy

TAS

Punchbowl Primary School, Newstead (government)

Year 3-5 Numeracy

Ruskin Park Primary School in Melbourne achieved substantial Year 3-5 gains in both reading and numeracy, mainly thanks to targeted teaching and a ‘growth mindset’, as principal Andrew Moore explained:

“In terms of targeted teaching, we looked at where students were at and made teachers more aware of this, and revamped assessments in accordance with this.

“We also implemented principles associated with Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset’, whereby we used words like ‘attitude’ and ‘effort’ instead of telling kids they were naturally smart, or things like that. We also use phrases like ‘we haven’t done it yet‘ at assemblies.

“The growth mindset looks at challenges as opportunities.”

South Australia’s Kangaroo Island Community Education, Kingscote, similarly significantly enhanced their Year 7-9 reading and numeracy scores. Principal Maxine Sherry attributes the growth to uniform teacher approaches, as well as the use of specific intervention programs.

“Three years ago, teachers were adopting their own approaches to teaching reading. Now, they use Jolly Grammar and Jolly Phonics.

“For numeracy, we use Back-To-Front Maths and QuickSmart.

“Our review last year of intervention programs showed that, for example, QuickSmart is working. Children that have had that are outperforming their peers in terms of achievement and growth.”

For those that haven’t improved like Ruskin Park and Kangaroo Island, Randall and Rabinowitz said schools can use MySchool data to do this. Education Review asked them for more detail. “It will prompt them to go and look a bit further,” Randall responded.

“School authorities will be looking at this data too. In some states, they get access to even more detail.

“They will be looking at schools in similar circumstances, like ICSEA status and location, that perform better.”

According to them, inter-school competition won’t trump professional exchange. “Competition between schools is often written about in the media, but I’m pretty confident that school principals have the interests of their kids at heart … and that other schools are more than happy to share [information],” Randall ventured.

But Ruskin Park’s Moore and Kangaroo Island’s Sherry both believe there’s more to improving NAPLAN scores than MySchool.

“There is some scope in learning from other schools. [Though] I think every school is quite unique [and] needs to delve into its own data, look at its own story, and respond accordingly,” Sherry said.

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