Comparing Schools

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REPORTING AND COMPARING SCHOOL PERFORMANCES

Geoff N Masters
Glenn Rowley
John Ainley
Siek Toon Khoo

Paper prepared for the MCEETYA Expert Working Group to provide advice on national schools data collection and reporting for school evaluation, accountability and resource allocation

December 2008

Commissioned by the Reporting and Accountability Branch, National Education Systems Group, Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and
Workplace Relations (DEEWR)

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Reporting and Comparing School Performances

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Reporting and Comparing School Performances

CONTENTS
Executive Summary
1. Introduction
1.1 Audiences and purposes
1.2 Forms of information
1.3 Nationally comparable data
1.4 Principles for reporting
1.5 Structure of paper

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2. Student Outcomes
2.1 Value-based considerations
2.2 Pragmatic considerations
2.3 What is feasible?

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3. Measuring Outcomes
3.1 Measurement scales
3.2 Measures of status
3.3 Measures of gain and growth
3.4 Measures of improvement

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4. Physical and Human Resources
4.1 Finances
4.2 Facilities
4.3 Staff
4.4 Leadership

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5. Student Intake Characteristics
5.1 Indigenous status
5.2 Socio-economic status
5.3 Language background other than English
5.4 Geo-location
5.5 Special educational needs

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6. Evaluating Outcomes
6.1 Status, gain and growth
6.2 Performance against pre-specified ‘standards’
6.3 Improvement over time
6.4 Simple school comparisons
6.5 Like-school comparisons

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7. Measuring School Performance
7.1 The intention to ‘measure’
7.2 Contextualised attainment measures
7.3 ‘Value-added’ measures

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Reporting and Comparing School Performances

8. Audiences and Purposes for Reporting
8.2 School principals
8.2 Employing authorities
8.3 School communities
8.4 The general public

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9. Public Reporting
9.1 Reporting school data in tables
9.2 Providing school profiles
9.3 What data should be reported?

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Bibliography

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Appendix

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Reporting and Comparing School Performances

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This report provides advice on the collection and reporting of information about the performances of Australian schools. The focus is on the collection of nationally comparable data. Two purposes are envisaged: use by education authorities and governments to monitor school performances and, in particular, to identify schools that are performing unusually well or unusually poorly given their circumstances; and use by parents/caregivers and the public to make informed judgements about, and meaningful comparisons of, schools and their offerings.

Our advice is based on a review of recent Australian and international research and experience in reporting on the performances of schools. This is an area of educational practice in which there have been many recent developments, much debate and a growing body of relevant research.

Our work is framed by recent agreements of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), in particular, at its meeting on 29 November 2008:
C OAG agreed that the new Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority will be supplied with the information necessary to enable it to publish relevant, nationally-comparable information on all schools to support accountability, school evaluation, collaborative policy development and resource allocation. The Authority will provide the public with information on each school in Australia that includes data on each school’s performance, including national testing results and school attainment rates, the indicators relevant to the needs of the student population and the school’s capacity including the numbers and qualifications of its teaching staff and its resources. The publication of this information will allow comparison of like schools (that is,...
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