The Australian Government has finally grasped the nettle and created a web site that is supposed to keep “score” on the performance of Australian schools, much too the chagrin of the rent seekers in the education sector, primarily the teachers union. The public sector unions representing the pen pushers in the department are pretty quiet, I suspect because they want others to carry the poison can. Unbelievably, the P&C association also does not want the site.
I have never, ever, seen a successful improvement initiative that did not start with a comprehensive, and quantitative review of the status quo. You need to know the starting point in order to know what to change.
The state departments of Education have been collecting huge amounts of data for years, they have massive infrastructure devoted to nothing else, but have failed to use it to improve the education of our kids. We have increased responsibility being foisted on schools for things we reasonably expect parents to cover, and we seek to protect kids from the world. The education system should assist to prepare our kids for a world changing at a huge rate, rather we teach them to comply, to be subservient to the status quo, not to rebel, not to ask difficult questions, and not to learn to think for themselves, display leadership, or be inquisitive.
Had the various institutions we pay for collectively to provide education to our kids done their job, the scorecard would not be necessary, the information collected over 30 years would have been used to improve the educational outcomes, instead of filling warehouses with useless bits of paper.
The scorecard clearly has some downsides, but if it gets some of the rent seekers off their collective arses, if for no reason that they need to in order to cover them, it will have been successful, as the improvement opportunities will have the chance to be aired, and implemented. Ironically, the debate sparked by the publication of the site is the first step in a rational review of the way in which the education dollar is spent, the outcomes we should expect from that expenditure, and weather the expenditure is both sufficient in total, and sufficiently well directed to deliver the sort of education necessary for our kids to contribute and prosper in the years to come.
The pain to the few that will be caused by poor use of the site will in the long run be worth it.