The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (21:33): I rise to support the Address in Reply and, in doing so, I formally thank the Governor for the speech he presented to parliament on behalf of the government. In opening my remarks, I endorse the remarks of my colleague the Hon. Michelle Lensink in her conclusion that, as I think I indicated earlier today in Matters of Interest, the government’s program as outlined in the Governor’s opening speech is singularly underwhelming.
Certainly, the government’s Spin Doctors had been out for some weeks prior to the speech opening parliament. The spin was being spun that the prorogation of the parliament would allow a line to be drawn in the sand for the government after its acknowledged difficulties in recent times and that the government was going to be able to outline a visionary, bold and imaginative program for the remaining 18 months of the parliamentary session and that the foundation for that forward thrust was to be the Governor’s opening speech.
When there was a comprehensive sigh from the commentators, the media commentators in particular, when they had listened to and digested the government’s program, the Spin Doctors then came out and said that that had never been the case, the government had decided not to put all its bold and imaginative stuff in the Governor’s opening speech, and they would be progressively revealed and released over the coming 18 months leading up to the March 2010 election.
I intend to return to some general comments about the government’s approach and its arrogance later on in my contribution this evening, but the principal issue I want to address this evening in the Address in Reply are some comments on education, education policy, the state of education debate, not only in South Australia but in Australia at the moment and, in particular, in terms of education accountability and performance, if I can summarise the topic in that way.
I was fortunate earlier this year to be able to visit New York and Boston to look at aspects of education performance and measurement. In New York, I met with Mr Christopher Cerf, Deputy Chancellor for Organisational Strategy, Human Capital and External Affairs (they have wonderful titles in the United States of America), the New York City Department of Education. I also met separately with Mr Phil Vaccaro, Project Manager for Progress Reports for New York City Department of Education. Later on, I met with Mr Dirk Tillotson, Chief Operating Officer, New York Centre for Charter Schools Excellence. Then separately I had meetings with Mr Joseph Colletti, Special Representative for Educational Programs, the United Federation of Teachers. Subsequently, I met with Mr Joseph Rappo, who is the Executive Director, Office of Education, Quality and Accountability in the Massachusetts Education Department and Systems.
First, I will direct my comments principally to the work and activity of the New York City Department for Education, and in a moment I will explain why I looked in particular at that area. The first point to make when one looks at the New York school system is that, as one would envisage, it is enormously complex and complicated and an extraordinary challenge in terms of any education administration. The changes that I will talk about tonight have come under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg, who, as members would know, was rumoured to be interested in making a run for the presidency this year but eventually decided not to. He won the mayorship of New York City and instituted comprehensive reform right across the board in terms of the administration of New York City and, in particular, the Department of Education.
One of the things he did was to employ a bloke called Jo Klein, who, on my understanding, had either no or negligible knowledge of direct education administration. He had had a very comprehensive and successful business career in a number of companies, but he was brought in to run and manage the New York City Department of Education: an enormous challenge. He was supported strongly by Mayor Bloomberg, with significant financial support both from taxes and also from subsidies or contributions from the private sector as well.
My report (based on my trip) summarises the nature of the discussions I had with the people I have mentioned, in terms of the New York City Department of Education, as follows. I had a general discussion about a range of issues, including: literacy and numeracy testing conducted by state authorities as well as federal authorities; the measures of education performance they used included value-adding measures and not just raw school results; they close about 20 schools per year on the basis of poor education performance; new schools are sometimes established on the same site where a school has been closed; they had a new pay per performance scheme for teachers which had been introduced; the department paid bonuses to schools based on grading performance, grading schools between A and F, and schools made decisions at the local level on how the bonus was to be allocated amongst teachers (that had actually been negotiated and had the support of the United Federation of Teachers in the New York City Department of Education schools); and that teachers could be dismissed by principals in the first three years for poor performance, although the department does not believe that it occurs often enough.
Subsequently, as I said, I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with, I guess, almost the computer boffins to work through how the test results were massaged and managed to determine value-adding of the school in terms of performance measurement, and I will return to that discussion later in my contribution. In essence, what they were talking about was trying to measure the level of value-adding that a particular school and its teachers add to the level of education achievement by its students.
Without going into all the detail of the Massachusetts education system, I think it is fair to say that they too have headed in almost a very similar direction to the New York City Department of Education schools, certainly with significant testing of students’ education achievement all the way through primary and secondary school. All of the test results are publicly available, but at the time I was there the office, at that stage, was not currently grading all schools, unlike the New York City Department of Education. However, Boston’s schools’ performance were compared in a complicated model with a theoretical school population to try to allow some indication of relative school performance for each individual school. Unlike the New York City Department of Education, no school in Massachusetts has closed on the basis of performance.
It leads to the general discussion about league tables and educational performance. In my recommendations, which are part of my official travel report, recommendation No. 9 reads as follows:
“Most states are now providing detailed information on the performance of schools to parents and the public. In some states or cities, ‘league tables’ of school performance are being produced. It is now time to accept more information on school performance should be provided in South Australia as even other states in Australia are providing much more information publicly. The New York City model described briefly in this report is worth considering for replication in South Australia—especially the emphasis on providing measures of ‘value adding’ by schools. It is now time to provide a version of ‘league tables’ to assist parents and departments for education to make informed decisions about comparative educational performance between schools.”
I should interpose that, when I said ‘most states’ in the first sentence, that refers to most states in the United States rather than in Australia. I hasten to say that this is obviously a personal view that I express. My Party’s position in South Australia has long been, and still is, to oppose league tables, in terms of educational performance.
I think it is fair to say that my Party’s position at the federal level is different from the Party’s position at the state level; that is, for the past few years our representative ministers and shadow ministers at the federal level have supported the introduction of varying versions of league tables. However, as I said, my conclusions from my study tour and report and recommendations are a personal view at this stage, and the state Party’s position remains opposed to the use of league tables.
The reason why I briefly summarised the studies is that, in an extraordinary coincidence, I guess, in the past two months we have seen the significance of the New York City model of education achieve some degree of prominence in Australia, and that is because the federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, in August this year (12 August is the date of the transcript of an interview on ABC Radio, so I think her speech was either on that day or earlier in that week), indicated that the federal Labor Government was going to insist on significant changes in the measurement and accountability of educational performance.
The Minister indicated that there was national testing and that, as part of the next educational agreement with schools, there would have to be some public accountability of the performance of schools to allow the comparison of one school with another. In that interview by Madonna King on 12 August, Julia Gillard talked about the New York model. She said:
“Well, the New York model, we’ve got to remind ourselves there are over a million kids in schools in New York, so it might geographically be a school place but there’s a lot of kids there. What they do in New York is they have a statistical way of analysing schools and then comparing like schools. They look at performance, the sort of attainment information I am talking about in like schools, and that enables them to see which schools are doing better and provide particular assistance to those schools that aren’t coming out with the kind of results that should be expected of a school of that nature.”
Later in the interview she said, ‘We don’t have national comparable information about schools.’ She is not only talking about government schools; she is also talking about government, Catholic and independent schools. Soon after that the Prime Minister, on 27 August (so, just two weeks later) put out a joint media release with Julia Gillard entitled ‘Education revolution in our schools’. They said as follows:
“In return for increased investment in the quality of schools the Rudd government will demand greater transparency and greater accountability. It will insist on a system of individual school performance reporting as part of the new national education agreement to come into effect from 1 January 2009. These reports will allow parents to compare schools with a similar mix of students and the extent to which they are adding value. These public reports will reveal a limited number of instances where it is clear that individual schools are simply not achieving the essentials. The government is prepared to invest money and effort to lift their performance.
“However, where despite best efforts, these schools are not lifting their performance, the commonwealth expects education authorities to take serious action—such as replacing the school principal, replacing senior staff, reorganising the school or even merging it with other more effective schools.
“Tough action is necessary to achieve real change. And it’s tough action that our reform payments will reward.”
I interpose to say that the Prime Minister and the minister are saying that there will be, as part of the new national agreement with the states, a system of public accountability where public reporting will allow a comparison of individual school performance; and that, in those schools that do not perform, in the end, principals can be replaced or schools closed. And that will be an expectation by the federal government of the state government.
Some tables were circulated explaining the education revolution on 28 August in The Advertiser and, under the heading ‘What would schools have to do?’, the dot points are as follows:
• From January 1, 2009, education funding would be tied to school performance reporting.
• Schools would collect and make available to parents clear and simple information about the performance of their child, and the school.
• Schools would publicly report their performance on key measures, including national test results.
I will repeat that: schools would publicly report their performance on key measures, including national test results. Of course, if there was public reporting of key measures, including national test results, that means that there is inter-school comparison in terms of those schools that have performed well in literacy, numeracy or science (whatever is being tested) and those schools that have performed badly. There is therefore the capacity, under what the education revolution is talking about, for league tables to be established.
Julia Gillard, when interviewed in The Australian, further expanded on her experience and testimony in terms of supporting the revolutionary changes instituted in the New York City school system. I quote from an article of 12 August. It states:
“Education minister Julia Gillard yesterday endorsed aspects of the New York system for ranking schools based on student performance and progress.
“As the teaching unions and state Labor governments railed against moves to rank schools, Ms Gillard called for a national system to compare the differences between schools and identify the most disadvantaged.
“But the Acting Prime Minister stopped short of supporting the New York system for grading schools from A to F based on their performance, saying the goal was to compare similar schools to identify those in need of further assistance. ‘This is not about simplistic league tables. This is about rich performance information about our schools,’ she said.
“Addressing the Australian Council for Education Research conference in Brisbane, Ms Gillard pointed to the New York model as one from which Australia could learn and said she was inspired after meeting New York City’s schools chancellor Joel Klein.
“‘We can learn from Klein’s methodology of comparing like schools with like schools and then measuring the differences in school results in order to spread best practice,’ she said. ‘Something Joel Klein is personally and passionately committed to is the identification of school need, the comparison of like schools and the identification of best practice. The answer is not league tables and it’s not A to F reporting, but it’s making sure we have this rich performance information available, school by school.’
“In New York, school progress reports are issued each year comparing students’ performance levels year on year. The reports also compare schools within a group of 40 peer schools to the same type of schools across the city.
“Schools are then graded from A to D and F based on student test results, the progress of students in a year, and the school environment as determined by attendance and a survey of parents, students and teachers.
“Schools rated as A or B receive financial rewards and are used to demonstrate good teaching practices. Schools graded D or F are given assistance to improve and, if no progress is made over time, the school is restructured, the principal changed or it is closed.
“Last year, 50 of the 1,400 schools in the New York evaluation system were rated an F.
“Unions yesterday rejected Ms Gillard’s comments as divisive.”
I do not know whether I am entirely comfortable, but politics seems to make strange bedfellows. Here I was in April and May of this year writing a report based on the judgments I had made in February recommending that we ought to look at the New York City Department of Education system and implement some of the changes in terms of measurement of school performance, and less than six months later a federal Labor Minister for Education, Julia Gillard (admittedly, from South Australia) is recommending the very same thing. As I said, politics does sometimes make strange bed fellows. Within the space of six months, the two of us having looked at the New York City Department of Education changes in this area were recommending that we ought to be looking at picking the eyes out of the best aspects of the changes.
Julia Gillard’s assessment of what occurs in New York is not entirely accurate based on the discussions that I had. I think she would probably acknowledge that; that is, what she is recommending is a little different from the New York system, although obviously it is based on the foundation of the New York system. Certainly, as I said, in the New York system, I was advised that up to 20 schools a year are being closed and some within the space of a couple of years of first measurement and grading. That is, the administrators of that system are very strongly of the view that, if schools are performing badly in terms of educational performance and that there was no prospect of an early turnaround in terms of performance, they had moved quickly in terms of closure of schools.
The Prime Minister has acknowledged that, under his proposed system, there will be closure of schools. Minister Gillard is trying to downplay that particular aspect of the New York system. If one looks at the New York system, they make it clear that there needs to be consequences for poor education performance. If there are not any consequences, then there will be no incentive in terms of improving educational performance in their view based on their experience.
The other aspect that Julia Gillard has been trying to downplay has been the notion of grading of schools, although I think the Prime Minister has been a little more gung-ho in terms of supporting the notion of grading of schools. It is quite clear that the New York system is based on a system of grading schools and it is quite clear that schools are graded from A to C, but that some schools are graded at F, that is ‘F’ for fail. They have failed their students and their educational community in terms of their educational performance, and some of those schools are the ones which the department closes down. As I said, they may well close down a school on a site and then next year reopen another school on that site with a completely new principal and, in some cases, new teachers, and a completely new structure and support base, but, nevertheless, that first school had been closed. In other cases, the school is closed, the site is closed and a new school is established somewhere else.
I turn to some aspects of how the New York system operates in detail. As I said, each year a progress report is introduced for each school. It has a grade of A, B, C, D or F. The reports are helping parents, teachers, principals and others understand how well schools are doing and they compare them to other similar schools. You can visit the website to look at the progress report for every school in the New York City Department of Education for 2006-07 and also for 2005-06 and compare the relative performance. You can search the web for the particular school that you want in terms of its performance on all these key indicators.
Schools which receive As and Bs in their progress report are eligible for rewards. The Department of Education will work with the schools that receive low grades to help them to improve. Schools that receive low grades will also face consequences such as leadership changes or closure. It is an important part of their work to hold children’s schools accountable for living up to the high standards we all expect them to achieve.
The school grades are based on three key elements. It is important to understand how that is constructed. The first element is what is known as the school environment, which is 15 per cent of the final score. That includes things such as attendance and the results of parent, student and teacher surveys. You can go on the website and look at the surveys they conduct each year of teachers, students and parents in each individual school. They are put together with things like attendance—and these are the sort of things Minister Gillard will be referring to when she talks about a rich composite of measures in terms of performance and not just the scores. That might be retention rates and a whole variety of other things like that. That adds up to 15 per cent of the score.
The second area is student performance, which comprises 30 per cent of the final score and is measured by elementary and middle students’ scores each year on the New York state tests in English, language, arts and mathematics. For high schools student performance is measured by diplomas and graduation rates. So the student performance, the 30 per cent, essentially is based on the raw scores in terms of the performance of the student.
The biggest component of the final score, which is 55 per cent, is called student progress or what I referred to earlier as value-adding. Student progress is measured by how much schools help students progress during the school year in subjects such as reading, writing, maths, science and history. Schools’ progress scores also rise when they help English language learners, special education students and students who are not performing well at the start of the year to improve. That is the total: 55 per cent on value-adding or student progress; 30 per cent on raw scores, or student performance; and, 15 per cent on school environment, giving the final score of 100 per cent.
A school’s result in each area is compared with the results of all schools serving the same grades throughout the city. Results are also compared to a peer group of 40 similar schools. Families can use the progress report to identify areas in which their school is performing well and also to identify areas in which other schools are performing better. I will not go through the detail, but each year a quality review is conducted by departmental officers of each school and that is made available for parents and anyone who wants to look at the results of the quality review report.
I turn to the section on grading, the A to D or F. On each of the three grading measures—school environment, student performance and student progress—schools will be graded based on three main factors: outcomes for the current year; a comparison of the school’s performance during the current year to that of schools city-wide (this means a school’s performance for the 2006-07 school year, as compared with the two or three-year average historical performance for schools city-wide: using a multi-year view assures that schools are graded on actual trends and not random fluctuations); and, a comparison of the school’s performance with that of schools with similar student populations (this is based on student demographics and/or performance on ELA and maths test scores). The last point refers to the comparison of like schools with like schools (and I will turn to that in a moment).
There is yearly testing for elementary middle school students in New York. They take annual state exams in English language arts (ELA). Students in grades 3 to 8 take the exam each winter. In mathematics, students in grades 3 to 8 take the exam in late winter and early spring. In social studies, students in grade 5 take this exam in the fall; students in grade 8 take it in the spring. For science, students in grades 4 and 8 take this exam in the spring, and in high school, if you go to the website, the various regent tests—English, maths, science, global history and US history and government—are tested for each student in their high school system.
If you go to the website of the New York City Department of Education, you can look at the results, for example, the state maths test, for individual schools or all schools and can look at the number of students tested in each grade, the comparative results of that year with the previous year and the number of students in level 1 through to level 4 in terms of their maths performance, and can compare it with a district or city average or like school with like school average. So any parent can compare the maths, English or science performance of their child’s classroom of students with comparative schools either across the city or across a small group of 40 like schools as well. Comprehensive information is available on the New York City Department of Education website for those interested in looking at the detail. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a purely statistical table on one aspect of the performance measure of the New York City Department of Education.
Progress reports for high schools and transfer schools will be released later in the fall.
DBN District School Principal 2007-08 school support organisation Progress report type School level*
01M015 1 P.S. 015 Roberto Clemente Thomas Staebell ICI ESMS Elementary School
01M019 1 P.S. 019 Asher Levy Ivan Kushner ESO ESMS Elementary School
01M020 1 P.S. 020 Anna Silver Felix Gill ICI ESMS Elementary School
01M034 1 P.S. 034 Franklin D. Roosevelt Joyce Stallings Harte ICI ESMS K-8
01M063 1 P.S. 063 William McKinley Darlene Despeignes ICI ESMS Elementary School
01M064 1 P.S. 064 Robert Simon Sandra Litrico Pappas ESO ESMS Elementary School
01M110 1 P.S. 110 Florence Nightingale Irene Quvus ESO ESMS Elementary School
01M134 1 P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold Loretto Caputo ICI ESMS Elementary School
01M137 1 P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein Mellissa Rodriguez ICI ESMS Elementary School
01M140 1 P.S. 140 Nathan Straus Esteban Barrientos ESO ESMS K-8
01M184 1 P.S. 184M Shuang Wen Ling Ling Chou New Visions ESMS K-8
01M188 1 P.S. 188 The Island School Barbara Slatin ESO ESMS K-8
01M292 1 Henry Street School for International Studies Hoa Tu ESO ESMS Middle School
01M301 1 Technology Arts and Sciences Studio George Morgan ESO ESMS Middle School
01M315 1 The East Village Community School Robin Williams ESO ESMS Elementary School
01M332 1 University Neighbourhood Middle School Cynthia Kerr ESO ESMS Middle School
01M345 1 Collaborative Academy of Science Technology & Law Mauriciere Degovia ESO ESMS Middle School
01M361 1 Children’s Workshop School Maria Velez Clarke ICI ESMS Elementary School
01M363 1 Neighbourhood School Judith Foster ESO ESMS Elementary School
01M364 1 Earth School Alison Gall Hazut ESO ESMS Elementary School
01M450 1 East Side Community High School Mark Federman ESO ESMS Middle School
01M539 1 New Explorations into Science Technology and Math High School Olga Livanis ICI ESMS K-8
01M839 1 Tompkins Square Middle School Mark Pingitore ESO ESMS Middle School
02M001 1 P.S. 001 Alfred E. Smith Amy Hom ICI ESMS Elementary School
02M002 2 P.S. 002 Meyer London Brett Gustafson ICI ESMS Elementary School
02M003 2 P.S. 003 Charrette School Lisa Siegman ICI ESMS Elementary School
02M006 2 P.S. 006 Lillie D Blake Lauren Fontana ESO ESMS Elementary School
DBN District School Peer Index* Overall Grade Overall Score Environment Category Score Environment Grade
01M015 1 P.S. 015 Roberto Clemente 63.28 D 31.9 5.8 C
01M019 1 P.S. 019 Asher Levy 50.39 B 50.8 9 B
01M020 1 P.S. 020 Anna Silver 57.37 A 69.7 9.7 A
01M034 1 P.S. 034 Franklin D. Roosevelt 58.96 B 59.8 4.5 D
01M063 1 P.S. 063 William McKinley 53 F 26.5 7.6 B
01M064 1 P.S. 064 Robert Simon 60.63 A 79.7 12.1 A
01M110 1 P.S. 110 Florence Nightingale 42.56 C 41.2 9.4 A
01M134 1 P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold 54.03 B 53 5.8 C
01M137 1 P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein 61.63 B 55.2 7.8 B
01M140 1 P.S. 140 Nathan Straus 62.46 B 64.8 9 B
01M184 1 P.S. 184M Shuang Wen 27.1 A 71.2 13.3 B
01M188 1 P.S. 188 The Island School 64.92 A 70.8 4.6 A
01M292 1 Henry Street School for International Studies 2.98 C 43.5 3.4 C
01M301 1 Technology Arts and Sciences Studio 3 C 48.2 8.1 F
01M315 1 The East Village Community School 34.21 B 47 7.9 B
01M332 1 University Neighbourhood Middle School 2.92 B 58.1 7.5 B
01M345 1 Collaborative Academy of Science Technology & Law 3.28 B 62.4 9.3 B
01M361 1 Children’s Workshop School 35.74 B 51.5 9.4 B
01M363 1 Neighbourhood School 33.34 D 32.1 12.2 A
01M364 1 Earth School 34.68 A 62.4 11.9 A
01M450 1 East Side Community High School 2.99 A 76.5 8.8 A
01M539 1 New Explorations into Science Technology and Math High School 11.77 A 68 7.8 B
01M839 1 Tompkins Square Middle School 3.35 A 82.4 13.6 B
02M001 1 P.S. 001 Alfred E. Smith 40.34 B 56.9 6.1 A
02M002 2 P.S. 002 Myer London 39.62 A 73 8.2 C
02M003 2 P.S. 003 Charrette School 18.64 B 58.9 10.4 B
02M006 2 P.S. 006 Lillie D Blake 11.78 B 58.4 6.3 A
DBN District School Per-formance category score Per-formance grade Pro-gress category score Pro-gress grade Additional credit
01M015 1 P.S. 015 Roberto Clemente 8 C 18.1 C 0
01M019 1 P.S. 019 Asher Levy 11.4 B 30.4 B 0
01M020 1 P.S. 020 Anna Silver 20 A 37.7 A 2.25
01M034 1 P.S. 034 Franklin D. Roosevelt 10.6 C 37.9 A 6.75
01M063 1 P.S. 063 William McKinley 11.3 C 7.6 F 0
01M064 1 P.S. 064 Robert Simon 18.9 A 46.4 A 2.25
01M110 1 P.S. 110 Florence Nightingale 16.9 A 13.4 D 1.5
01M134 1 P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold 14.4 B 31.3 B 1.5
01M137 1 P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein 16.1 A 29.8 B 1.5
01M140 1 P.S. 140 Nathan Straus 15.3 B 36 B 4.5
01M184 1 P.S. 184M Shuang Wen 15.4 B 44.6 A 1.5
01M188 1 P.S. 188 The Island School 22.5 A 35.4 B 0
01M292 1 Henry Street School for International Studies 19.2 A 45.5 A 1.5
01M301 1 Technology Arts and Sciences Studio 14.3 B 25 C 0.75
01M315 1 The East Village Community School 16.3 B 23.8 C 0
01M332 1 University Neighbourhood Middle School 8.3 C 29.3 B 1.5
01M345 1 Collaborative Academy of Science Technology & Law 15.2 B 31.6 B 3.75
01M361 1 Children’s Workshop School 17.4 B 32.7 B 3
01M363 1 Neighbourhood School 11 C 31.1 B 0
01M364 1 Earth School 9.6 C 9.5 F 0.75
01M450 1 East Side Community High School 9.8 C 36.9 A 3.75
01M539 1 New Explorations into Science Technology and Math High School 19.6 A 42.8 A 5.25
01M839 1 Tompkins Square Middle School 24.2 A 36 B 0
02M001 1 P.S. 001 Alfred E. Smith 20 A 45.8 A 3
02M002 2 P.S. 002 Myer London 17.4 A 33.4 A 0
02M003 2 P.S. 003 Charrette School 17.1 A 46.2 A 1.5
02M006 2 P.S. 006 Lillie D. Blake 15 B 32 B 1.5
DBN District School 2006-07 Progress report grade 2007-08 Quality review score 2006-07 Federal accountability status
01M015 1 P.S. 015 Roberto Clemente B Proficient In good standing
01M019 1 P.S. 019 Asher Levy B Well developed In good standing
01M020 1 P.S. 020 Anna Silver B Well developed In need of improvement—Year 2
01M034 1 P.S. 034 Franklin D. Roosevelt C Well developed In good standing
01M063 1 P.S. 063 William McKinley C Proficient In good standing
01M064 1 P.S. 064 Robert Simon C Well developed In good standing
01M110 1 P.S. 110 Florence Nightingale B Well developed In good standing
01M134 1 P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold B Proficient In good standing
01M137 1 P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein B Proficient In good standing
01M140 1 P.S. 140 Nathan Straus B Proficient In need of improvement—Year 1
01M184 1 P.S. 184M Shuang Wen C Well developed In good standing
01M188 1 P.S. 188 The Island School B Proficient In good standing
01M292 1 Henry Street School for International Studies A Well developed In good standing
01M301 1 Technology Arts and Sciences Studio B Proficient In good standing
01M315 1 The East Village Community School B Underdeveloped with proficient features In good standing
01M332 1 University Neighbourhood Middle School A Proficient In good standing
01M345 1 Collaborative Academy of Science Technology & Law C Proficient In good standing
01M361 1 Children’s Workshop School Well developed In good standing
01M363 1 Neighbourhood School B Proficient In good standing
01M364 1 Earth School B Well developed In good standing
01M450 1 East Side Community High School B Well developed In good standing
01M539 1 New Explorations into Science Technology and Math High School A Well developed In good standing
01M839 1 Tompkins Square Middle School B Proficient In good standing
02M001 1 P.S. 001 Alfred E. Smith A Well developed In good standing
02M002 2 P.S. 002 Myer London C Proficient In good standing
02M003 2 P.S. 003 Charrette School B Proficient In good standing
02M006 2 P.S. 006 Lillie D Blake Well developed Requiring academic progress—Y
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: This table summarises the information which is available for parents, educators and teachers for each individual school in the New York City Department of Education. It will be a bit of a challenge for Hansard to read it, but it is all neatly printed. It is significantly horizontally placed rather than vertically—which will be a challenge for Hansard—but I am sure they will cope.
It starts on the left with the code, the district, the name of the school (for example, Roberto Clemente Primary School), the name of the principal, the school support organisation, the progress report type, the school level (which is an elementary school), the first score (which is the peer index and which is 63.28), the overall grade for the school (which is D), the overall score for the year for the school (31.9), and then there are the grades for the individual subcategories to which I referred earlier.
The environment grade is C, the performance grade is C, the progress grade is C, the additional credit—I was not able to refer to that earlier—for this school is zero, the 2006-07 progress report grade is B, the 2007-08 quality review score is proficient, and the 2006-07 federal accountability status summary is ‘in good standing’. In relation to one school it states ‘in need of improvement’ for year 2, but most of these are ‘in good standing’. One of the other schools has something like ‘requiring academic achievement’ as an alternative summation.
All schools are graded, and one can look at the particular components of a school performance or the value adding or the environment measures. It does raise some interesting issues in terms of what the federal government is proposing. As I said, I am supporting some moves along this line, so these are the challenges ahead for education administrators. When one looks at the components of a final score, the value adding is worth 55 per cent of the total score. The performance of value adding is obviously very important in terms of the overall grade.
For example, if I look at the William McKinley Primary School, in terms of the environment grade, it got a B. Essentially, that is student attendance, and the surveys of parents, teachers and students gave it a B ranking—which is quite high. The ranking for the performance measures was a C, which means that the raw score was not too bad. So, it had a B and a C in relation to those two measurements, but when it came to the extent of value adding it failed; it got an F. Because value adding is such an important part of the final score, its total assessment was F for fail. Even though it had passed in the raw scores—that is, the actual levels of performance by the school in terms of the performance grade—nevertheless, it failed in the end because it had not value added during that particular year.
I will give another example—which is even more stark—in relation to Florence Nightingale Primary School. They have much more imaginative names than we tend to have here in South Australia. The Florence Nightingale school had an A in terms of environment, so when everyone was surveyed they all thought it was fabulous. It had an A in terms of the actual performance of students. If you look at the literacy and numeracy score, it was very high compared with all other students in the state; it got an A for that, as well. But when one looks at how much progress it had made, it got a D; that is, it had not improved as much as most other schools in that particular year.
As a result, they ended up with a C in the overall grading. I gave that as an example because one of the schools—the name of which I will not mention here, but it was highlighted to me by some of the experts in the system over there—was very similar to that in New York City. By reputation, it was one of the outstanding schools in the New York City Department of Education. A very high socioeconomic demographic student went to that school, the parents of whom were quite wealthy—they were professionals. The student performed in an outstanding fashion year on year; and, when they came to do the measurement, they performed well in the raw score (so the vast majority of the students would have been in the A category compared to everyone else in New York City), but because they could not show much improvement in terms of the value adding in that school they got a very low marking.
When the marking came out that school was classified as only a B school. The proverbial hit the fan in New York, because all the parents were paying quite a deal of money to send their children to this school. All the students were basically achieving A levels, yet the school was classified only as a B. That is one of the problems you do have. There are advantages with the notion of value adding in terms of school performance; that is, if you are fortunate enough to have all bright students come into your school and you do nothing to improve them, then you have not added much value in terms of the education. It is not necessarily good quality teaching and education outcomes—so the theory goes.
However, on the other hand, some education administrators and, certainly, teachers will say, ‘We can do no better. If those students are getting almost 100 per cent [or whatever it is—an A] for all their subjects, how can you improve on them? Therefore, why should that school be marked down?’ That will be a challenge for Julia Gillard, Prime Minister Rudd and others when they say, ‘We are not going to look at the raw scores.’ She is very dismissive of the raw scores, and I can understand that. Indeed, my recommendation is to look at notions of value adding, as well, but there are problems with value adding.
I give that example in some detail to demonstrate what the problems will be when you might have a school, as I said, which is performing at an exceptional level but which, in terms of educational improvement each year, is not able to demonstrate as much as, for example, a school where most of the students are failing one year and then the next year they are all improved to B level or B standard. They will show massive improvement in value adding and therefore will be classified as an A-grade school. They are the challenges in relation to when you get down to the detail of measuring educational performance.
That brings me to the attitude of the South Australian government. Minister Lomax-Smith and the state Labor Government for 20 years have opposed basic skills testing. They now accept and support those, but, certainly, they have not supported league tables, either. When Minister Lomax-Smith was asked what she thinks of the federal Labor Government’s moves in this area in terms of grading and comparing schools (and I do not have the exact quote here), she said something like, ‘Well, we’re essentially doing much of those sorts of things, anyway.’ The impression was given that the state government had already headed down that path and did not see much of a difference in terms of what the federal government was suggesting.
What I say to the educational writers and commentators here is that there is a massive difference in what the federal Labor Government is recommending and what the state Labor Government is currently doing. Because there have been these glib responses from Minister Lomax-Smith, no-one has questioned her closely or probed her on exactly what her attitude is to some of these New York models and some of the specific statements of the Prime Minister and minister Gillard, that is, comparing schools, measuring performance and being publicly accountable in terms of performance and potentially closing schools down. Those hard questions have not been put to minister Lomax-Smith in relation to the proposed changes from the federal government.
So far she has managed to get away (and so has the state government) with the glib response that, ‘Essentially, we’re doing much of that sort of thing already.’ They are not, and it is time for an educational writer or commentator, or someone, to put those hard questions to Minister Lomax Smith and to receive some sort of detailed response from her.