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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 615

Mr LAMING (Bowman) (12:53): Almost in continuation, I want to give a little bit more detail about how we have started the very, very long process of recognising excellence in schools. I want to start by saying that a huge amount of this data is actually available on NAPLAN if families care to look. NAPLAN has gone to extraordinary efforts, through the work of ACARA, to make sure that you can compare your school's NAPLAN performance against that of similar schools, schools with similar scores and the state mean. You might be interested in where your school sits compared to the national average.

Of course, NAPLAN is a very different measure to what we often see as an exit score in senior school. When you are leaving school, it is predominantly about finding a job, continuing your training and your education, and so we do not necessarily have highly detailed aptitude tests at the end of senior school, because universities use other means to determine who they will take, as do those that deliver trade and vocational education. I will never stop recognising quality where it exists, but too often it is not immediately available when you go to a website.

In 2015, which is the year of the latest public data, in numeracy in grade 5, for instance, Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island, with a predominantly Indigenous group, achieved the greatest numeracy results in my entire electorate when compared to the human capital of the families at the school. We also saw Russell Island, Vienna Woods, Redland Bay, Cleveland and Thornlands state schools performing above what one would expect for a school in their neighbourhood, as well as one Catholic school, St Anthony's, and one independent school, Ormiston College, overperforming.

You can go and look in NAPLAN and see that, but I take this opportunity to recognise the schools in my electorate of Bowman that are performing above and beyond. You can do that for every odd-numbered year of school across five different domains, if you are interested, and then you can have a look at those performances in bands, numbers and relative gain between years, which is obviously vitally important.

The research that I referred to before though was a little different and probably a little bit more advanced. It was following gain through the last three years of senior schooling, which has really never been performed before. The methodology in some more detail was that in NAPLAN we have an issue that children are often withdrawn intentionally or are simply absent and not turning up. The first phenomenon is predominantly wealthier families; the second is predominately poorer families. Whatever the case, I do not want to see schools with inordinately low NAPLANs hiding their lower performing students and then claiming a higher average, so we adjusted for that.

It is the same with an academic pathway, an ATAR or an OP leading to university. We do not want schools hollowing out the bottom half of their senior group and then claiming 100 per cent success rate with those that remain. Logically, that would mean that we need to be looking at the proportion going on an OP stream relative to the wealth of the community and identifying outliers, which is what we did. Obviously what we found was that NAPLAN sitting was extremely good for schools over the average wealth, but as schools fell slightly we saw a falling off of NAPLAN attendance. It is only proper that we allow poorer schools a slightly lower NAPLAN attendance, for those obvious reasons, without punishing them.

We then simply measured the cohort change: the number of kids achieving a certain NAPLAN level and the proportion of grade 12 achieving a certain OP score. Those who live and breathe statistics will know that one is effectively an aptitude measure, where potentially everyone can get the same score, and the other one is a ranking where, in theory, you are simply moving down the rungs of a ladder. You cannot directly compare these two cohorts: with additional methodological adjustments that is possible, but probably beyond my resources at the moment.

It is important also to notice that we do not have individually linked data, so I cannot tell you the individual scores of a student—and nor should I know them. But I can talk about percentages of that year that went on to get a score given their starting point. And there were some extraordinary findings. The first one is that there is increasingly a barbell distribution of independent schools achieving something over here and the great bulk of secondary schools that are not in wealthy suburbs are over there and achieving a completely different proportion of people heading into the university stream. The problem I have identified is that if you are not heading towards a university and needing an OP, in many cases universities will take you directly on your diploma. That is not, in and of itself, a single measure of achievement, but hidden behind the diploma are numerous subjects of different levels of ranking or weighting. If we have a diploma where you have done no high-level subjects and another where you have done many, we need to recognise quality—someone doing a higher level of maths. That is the next great step: recognising quality within the vocational stream. I am confident that is where all governments should be heading and, with the encouragement and support of this parliament, I am sure that can be achieved.