Gillard My School tests flawed
Gillard boasts that the My School website and school league tables are her proudest achievement - all based on the New York model introduced by Joel Klein. The latest research proves that the New York model has failed!
Edition 1 - First with the newsMON 02 AUG 2010, Page 021
Flaws test Gillard's proud boast
By Kevin Donnelly
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard recently nominated the MySchool website as one of her proudest moments in politics.
But should it be? When she was education minister, Gillard justified making tests public, league tables and naming and shaming schools by citing the work of New York City's head of schools, Joel Klein.
Gillard visited New York and was involved in inviting Klein to Australia.
Unfortunately, just released research from New York shows the Klein initiatives, which Australian schools are being forced to follow, have led to falling standards, a dumbed-down approach to the curriculum and a host of unintended consequences.
Such were concerns about falling standards that the State Board of Regents, the body responsible for education in New York, commissioned research to evaluate the impact of Klein's testing and accountability regime - one that Gillard touts as world's best.
One of the main criticisms against high-stakes testing, like New York's model and Australia's national literacy and numeracy tests at Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 (NAPLAN), is that standards are dumbed down to make sure more students succeed.
This is exactly what has happened in New York.
It is true that under Klein more students are passing the local tests but, as noted in a recent Board of Regents media release: ``The problem is that those exams didn't sufficiently test students' abilities - the bar was set too low.''
The result? Students who achieve good results in the Grade 3-8 state tests fail to perform well in later examinations and during first year at college. The New York research concludes, ``students who scored `proficient' on state exams found themselves unprepared, without remediation, to do the work required of them when they reached college''.
The Board of Regents further noted that ``not only is the Klein testing regime very lenient'', it is also dishonest and misleading as ``no good purpose is served when we say that a child is proficient when the child is not''.
New York is not the only education system where testing and naming and shaming schools are under attack.
In the UK, after the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Union of Teachers organised a boycott of tests for 10 to 11-year-olds earlier this year, the new Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove has agreed there are flaws in the current testing system and that it needs to be reviewed.
Many of the criticisms of the New York system of testing are mirrored in a UK research project, The Cambridge Primary Review, including teachers teaching to the test, with subjects such as music, history, literature and physical education being dropped from the curriculum.
One wonders what Prime Minister Gillard makes of the fact that when she boasted during her recent debate with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott about beating the teacher unions and getting the MySchool site established that the Channel 7 worm went into negative.
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Latest NewsGillard My School tests flawed
2nd August 2010
Gillard boasts that the My School website and school league tables are her proudest achievement - all based on the New York model introduced by Joel Klein. The latest research proves that the ...