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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 770

Mr CHESTER (6:48 PM) —I rise to raise my concerns in relation to the government’s much hyped My School website. This government seems to think the answer to every problem is a new website. We have had Fuelwatch, Grocery Choice and now My School. Two out of three have already been disbanded and, hopefully, My School will be overhauled or it should also end up in the cyberspace garbage bin.

I am not opposed to transparency. I am certainly not opposed to providing parents with accurate information on the performances of schools, but I fear that My School will cause more trouble than it is worth. To begin with, it is a simplistic measure of a school’s performance to report the result of the NAPLAN tests and, in doing so, it is tempting parents to reach some conclusions about the respective worth of schools in their region. I fear that publishing these results in this manner will cause unnecessary stress and uncertainty for students, parents and teachers. At the very least, it has the potential to erode confidence and self-esteem of young people attending schools which perform below the national benchmarks. The inevitable ranking of schools will lead to parents making an assessment of a school and making decisions on the merit of sending their child to a particular school without a full and accurate account of the school’s true worth. There is much more to education than the results of a numeracy and literacy test, as important as these measures are. We have already heard that Victorian schools are being urged to ‘teach the test’ and it is only a matter of time until valued programs like music and physical education are diminished in the curriculum.

The My School website carries a message from the Chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority claiming the website allows the national tests to be understood in a ‘fair and meaningful way’. With all due respect to Professor Barry McGaw, what a load of rubbish. The website should carry a flashing red sign warning parents to handle with care or treat these results with caution. The great irony in all this is that now we have the government claiming it will be able to allocate resources on a needs basis. (Time expired)