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School choice

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 2 May 2015

A version of the following letter was published in The Courier-Mail on Saturday 2 May 2015. It was submitted in response to an opinion piece that had appeared in the previous day's edition. Underlined words were deleted and bracketed ones were inserted. The paper's heading was "MySchool and NAPLAN fail to give parents best advice on education".

School choice

David Gillespie provides (provided) sound advice (in his opinion pice, C-M, May 1) when he writes (said) that schools that genuinely add value to student learning are better choices than prestigious ones with slick marketing campaigns that fail to do this ("Find school that adds value", Opinion, May 1).

He recommends (recommended) using the MySchool website to identify such schools. There are, however, a couple of problems.

First, is that the NAPLAN tests report single-point-in-time performance on only a narrow slice of the whole school curriculum.

Then, if the perceived "value adding" school is not nearby, students will be contributing to traffic congestion and overcrowding on public transport. In addition, we would have a healthier nation if more students walked or rode bikes to school and for that to be viable, schools need to be relatively close to home.

Gillespie also reminds (reminded) us that NAPLAN results are often misused in inappropriate league tables.

With this set of problems, NAPLAN and MySchool are probably not worth what they cost the taxpayer. This has been reported to be $10 million annually but ACARA is not forthright about the amount. Could this be because they fear it would not stand up to a proper cost-benefit analysis?

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
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