My School, the Federal Government’s controversial new website that effectively ranks 10,000 Australian schools, crashed this morning due to higher than expected demand from parents. A spokesperson from the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) – the body that runs the website – says they are aware of the problems Internet users have experienced logging on to the site this morning and technicians are currently working to restore access to the website as soon as possible.
My School contains the following information about Australian Schools:
- the number of students at each school;
- the number of teachers and other staff at each school;
- the socio-economic status of the students attending each school;
- school attendance rates; and
- Year 12 attainment rates.
Parents will also be able to see how their child’s school is performing in the National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), compared with other schools and that is a bone of contention between the Federal Government and critics of the website.
In a radio interview yesterday with Fran Kelly of ABC Radio National, Federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard said: “Parents have choice and when they have choice, they obviously want information to help them make that choice. Now I believe parents are entitled to the most comprehensive information we can give them and the My School website is the most comprehensive information parents have ever had.”
Julia Gillard was quick to add, “This is not a league table, this is comprehensive information enabling you to compare schools around the country that serve similar student populations.”
But critics of the My School website says the information provided on the site will unfairly stigmatise disadvantaged schools in low-social economic areas because it fails to include crucial data about school funding. There are also concerns about what the media will do with the information published on the website.
The Australian Secondary Principals Association says the website has the capacity to be used to generate simple comparisons between schools and is calling for measures to be taken to prevent the compilation of league tables by the media (it is rumoured some newspapers will do exactly that tomorrow).
The Australian Education Union agrees, stating that league tables which rank schools based on raw test scores are bad for students, schools and education.
“Naming and shaming schools that don’t get high marks in the tests is devastating for those school communities and makes it much harder for students and teachers.”
For more information on the My School website, please visit www.myschool.edu.au